The Greatest Crepe: Five Fantastic Brooklyn Crepe Makers

Nothing like a great crepe to warm you in the Winter. It’s almost therapeutic to watch a crepe artist do their handywork. And you’ll forget all about the cold when you, before your first bite, admire the neat, tidy bits of cream and strawberries peeping out of tanned, toasty and crisp folds of a crepe. Any of these five creperies will give you an engaging and memorable dining experience.    

Eight Turn Crepe  I went to this busy location in Dekalb Market and loved it. Every time I think of my savory shrimp and avo crepe turned ‘round and ‘round eight times—hence ETC’s name—I want to go back for it, and to try more. Eight Turn Crepe’s Japanese rice crepes menu is extensive, so it took me a while to order. Once I finally ordered, service was timely and effective. Not lightning fast but certainly not slow either. 

Usually, I like to take food to go, but my son’s affection for eating food right away won on this occasion for two reasons. Crepes have a strict no-travel policy—you must eat them ASAP—that if contested, the crepes will turn soggy in half an hour or less. 

I found myself trying to relax, as much as possible, in noisy and so-not-comfy Dekalb market. But the thought of a totally not crispy crepe was almost painful.

My mouth was literally watering as I watched other patrons pick up their orders. Finally, it came to me. And it was ridiculously beautiful, crispy edged, mouthwatering and a lot tastier than I’d hoped. 

Cloud 9 Crepes  A cute and quaint spot with lust-able rice crepes that made me walk to the other side of Bed-Stuy on a sunny but cold afternoon. Buses are not convenient during the day. But I was on a mission and no amount of inconvenience could stop my crepe craving, so I made it there and back in record time: about two hours. The longest time ever. 

By the time I inhaled it, my chicken salad crepe was of course soggy but still flavorful with Dijon mustard dressing. Sogginess aside, I could tell by the thickness of the crepe that it was a bit different from what I’m used to and what I prefer in a crepe.

Cloud 9’s space is sugary sweet though. What an adorable, child-friendly space for a friends’ get-together. 

Lakou Café  Three words, curry chickpea crepe, lingered in my mind for days till I finally ordered it for lunch. Not only did this wow-worthy vegetarian crepe exceed my expectations, it also destroyed any meat protein cravings for the rest of the day. Moments like these reaffirm my belief that Brooklyn is home to some of the best dining in the world. 

Lakou’s distinctive Haitian menu is a cool mix of classic French fare with adventurous Caribbean highlights. The Jerk Jackfruit crepe is on my long list of next times from local restaurants. “Next time, I’ll try this … next time I’ll try that.” 

By the way Lakou Café is the second Haitian resto this month that has blown me away with its undeniable flavor. And more Haitian restaurants are popping up. I see a guide to Brooklyn’s best Haitian cuisine on the horizon. It’s too spectacular to be overlooked.

Madame Poupon  Picture it! Valentine’s day 2020. You and your honey meet here at this authentic and intimate French restaurant. There’s candlelight, red roses and soft French music playing in the background. You find yourself sharing first, the vegetarian crepe, then second, the Daoulas crepe—fresh strawberries, chocolate ganache, vanilla whipped cream and black pepper—by taking turns to feed each other. What a perfect night for love. 

I hope to visit Madame Poupon sooner than Valentine’s Day next year, especially since it’s very conveniently located for me. But if I don’t make it there sooner then, it will skyrocket to the top of my list. The Daoulas crepe is one of a few sweet crepes that I’d like to try. Looks like dessert is the winner at Madame Poupon.

Take a Break and I’ll Bake Café & Creperie  Southern-French is always a favorite of mine. Cajun and Louisiana Creole cooking comes to mind. But Take a Break and I’ll Bake Café is about a fusion of American southern and European (French and Italian) cuisine. 

The decadent Peaches & Cream (Peach cobbler filling), and the Campfire (rich dark chocolate, marshmallows and graham crackers) crepes seem promising.  

Lead Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

The Do’s and Don’ts of Devouring a Crème Brûlée Cupcake

The darnedest things happen when your kid has to use the bathroom, so you run into a favorite Cobble Hill bakery/cafe/treasure trove of pastry lobster tails, tiramisu cakes and one of the best diner style strawberry shortcakes in Brooklyn, and you see it …

Your favorite new snack. A delicious mini version of your most cherished French dessert. Something blogworthy, finally.

The crème brûlée cupcake at Mia’s bakery! Follow these do’s and don’ts of experiencing this very French and very memorable cupcake. Trust me. You really need this eating guide. 

Do order three macarons and a chocolate cupcake—or whatever y’all agree on—as an enjoyable distraction for your child, while you finally focus on this special treat for yourself. Moist and delicious, you won’t want any interruptions.

Don’t let anyone have a clue, including your kid, as to how much the crème brûlée cupcake is making your mouth water. They might ask you for a bite and you won’t want to share.

Do resist the urge to buy two or three because despite its small size, this cupcake is satisfying and simply delicious. One is a good guilt-free indulgence. Two would be over-the-top richness.

Don’t take your order to go. Instead enjoy Mia’s quaint, clean and comfortable enough for a quick dessert stop café. I’ve seen people linger as though they’ve been sitting in the same place for hours but to me it’s not that type of place.

Do marvel at Mia’s cute cupcakes to-go policy. They use Chinese takeout containers as portable cupcake holders.

Don’t be hasty when removing this adorable cupcake from its close-fitting container. You don’t want to mess up the best part of this cupcake: its créme brûlée frosting.

Do eat the fresh berries that top the cupcake immediately, and simultaneously tune out your kid who finishes his snack, notices the pleasure you’re taking in savoring your delightful indulgence and whines for a piece.

Don’t hesitate to take three medium-sized bites—or however many bites it will take to finish—of this fantastic, one-of-a-kind cupcake. My only wish is that the filling oozed down the center of the cupcake.

Do leave Mia’s feeling like you just won a prize. If only you could get paid for eating crème brûlée cupcakes…

If you like créme brûlée and you also like vanilla cupcakes, you’ll love this clever dessert fusion at Mia’s.

Frealthy Update

This onion soup wants to hug you, bathe you and tuck you in bed. Will you let it?

It’s a typical November day in NYC. The temperature is expected to drop almost 30 degrees today. To kickoff this soup season, as the New York Times referred to this time of year late last week, I just posted a mouthwatering recipe of vegetarian French onion soup on Frealthy.

Try it out and let me know what you think. What healthy substitutions or additions would you recommend?

Frealthy is finally live!

Madeleines, sans gluten and dairy

I’ve started a new weekly page on BkFrench.com. It’s called Frealthy, a portmanteau of French and healthy. The first Frealthy post features a gluten-free recipe for France’s most iconic sweet tooth satisfier, madeleines. They’re buttery without the butter, sweet without the sugar and defy all negative thoughts of a gluten-free cookie’s nature. You smell them. You see them. You want them. This cookie is a must try.

Bored with Bread? Try Maison Kayser’s still-so-good baguette

Sometimes you want something extraordinary. Soft and stinky brie. A long, garlicky kiss goodnight. A really great bread. It’s subtle yet extraordinary and if you’re not a master baker, you probably can’t explain why or how some bread is great, not only nostalgic. It’s just steeped in its own special greatness. 

I could tell right away though, why Maison Kayser’s bread basket’s fresh baguette (and other breads including rye, whole wheat, and tourte de meule) is memorable. In addition to its intoxicating aroma, this lovely baguette offers a crisp crust, with a soft, delicate crumb. It’s served fresh and hot—hot enough to melt the cold butter that comes with the bread basket—and even my picky eater enjoyed it thoroughly.

We struggled to finish our tasty entrée, because we filled up on bread till it was completely finished. I traded my heart (and all the benefits of my usual morning cardio workout) for its buttery, probably calorie-laden glory. Served complimentary with an entrée in Maison Kayser’s cafe, it was an absolute filling treat for our two-person party. I’m sure it would be sufficient for groups of three or four.

In 2012, when its first NYC locations opened, there was much fuss about Maison Kayser’s amazing baguette. It was promptly rated the number one baguette of NY by New York Magazine in 2013. But has something changed?

As I read the so-so online restaurant reviews of Maison Kayser’s various NYC locations, I’m in disbelief that the success of this brilliant bread boss is wavering. Some patrons report that the negative reviews are not the food’s fault, but instead blame the service for Maison Kayser’s occasional two-star reviews. I’ve not seen one, single negative comment regarding the food at Maison Kayser.

Maison Kayser’s service was great for us. Our server was friendly with a warm, genuine smile, just as was the bread basket that our server brought to our table—warm and authentically French. The environment was clean and comfortable. 

Service is extremely important, but so is Maison Kayser’s bread basket. So, I hope that poor service alone is not the sole culprit that ultimately brings my favorite (and only) baguette behemoth down. 

 Here’s a short list of Maison Kayser menu items that I’m eager to sample:

  • Shakshouka tartine—a very flavorful, sometimes spicy, petite Mediterranean version of baked eggs on toast.
  • Crab and avocado tartine—fresh crab and Dijon dressing with a kick excites, pleases and does anything else it wants to your palate, if you’ll let it. (I’ve already sampled this smile maker.)
  • Salmon Tzatziki—simply roasted salmon topped with a refreshing, cucumber and dill yogurt sauce; a winning duo for sure.

Maison Kayser, 57 Court Street Brooklyn, NY 11201

Photo by Daria Nepriakhina on Unsplash

Sticks of Bliss: Maison-Yaki delivers big flavors in bite-size portions

My only two regrets of my visit at Olmsted’s Japanese-French spinoff Maison-Yaki is passing on the chawanmushi and resisting the urge to order two of everything. 

I kept staring at the menu and contemplating if we should order the chawanmushi even after we—my son and I—ordered the bulk of our meal: 

• tempura frog legs—the melt-in-your-mouth miracle. The frog legs are delicate, buttery, savory and unforgettable. Served piping hot with a tasty green dipping sauce. This dish is a reason of its own to visit this yaki-topia. Any picky eater will love frog legs the way mine does.

• king trumpet mushrooms—Pick this plate to indulge in pleasantly chewy and satisfying mushrooms served with a diced sweet peppers and tomatoes sauce. Not sure if these mushrooms are the ones grown in house but they probably are!

• lobster & sauce americaine—Divine. A lobster patty that’s been fried and skewered then drenched in a savory sauce. We ate this all too fast.

• chicken breast and sauce allemande—Very good! Cooked perfectly and retained a good amount of moisture. 

• duck a l’orange—I loved this fatty piece of caramelized duck but the sauce was the brilliance of this particular plate. A mini egg yolk posed in the middle of an orange sauce waiting to be mixed. The end result was a luscious, creamy crave-worthy dressing.

• lamb leg & herbes de provence—Gamey, medium on the inside and roasted/grilled on the outside lamb with a light herby sauce. We loved it.

The plates came out fast and not in any order. Maison Yaki doesn’t course, so you get what you get when you get it. I loved this philosophy. It was so refreshing, like every plate that came out was a burst of surprises. Lots of flavor, lots of juicy meats and lots of French sauces that hit the spot. We surprisingly felt full. Each skewer is only two bites but the flavor was amazing. Next time we’ll need 2 (or 3) orders of frog legs. 

After all of that goodness, I was still thinking about ordering the chawanmushi until my son insisted on ordering dessert. After weighing our options, we decided that we’d get the Japanese cheesecake this visit—my son promised the wait staff, the manager and the other patrons that we’d be back next week. He gets carried away about great food like his mom. 

The cheesecake was a cloud. We found ourselves floating on air while eating it, it’s so light and fluffy. The best I’ve tasted, hands down. And it’s served with plums that thankfully, tasted like tart, saucy cherries. A flawless end to a flawless meal. 

French For Real: La Cafette is Greenpoint’s newest authentic French resto

’Twas a Friday night like every other Friday night of late—for the last seven years. I brought my son to La Cafette at around 6:30 p.m. for dinner. The ambience is quite romantic, modern, simple and versatile. It’s perfect for girlfriends’ brunches, family dinners, and date nights.

Of course my Spider-man wanted to sit next to the window at a high-top table  but it was a chilly evening, so I insisted we sit further away from the restaurant’s entrance to offset any chance of him falling out of the open window on purpose. 

We sat down at a fabulously chic table and immediately felt warm and comfy. Two Shirley temples, two glasses of happy hour half-priced wine, one cheese plate, and a whole rotisserie chicken that comes with potatoes and mushrooms later, we were stuffed, satisfied and homeward bound. 

The cheese plate delivered some great options. A mild but flavorful goat, a memorable camembert, a moderate “French cheddar”—as our waitress said it was most like—and oh-so-stinky brie served with walnuts, a fruit paste (maybe apricot) and swoon-worthy slices of soft-on-the-inside, crispy-on-the-outside baguette. We, or rather I, devoured it. 

Our waitress mentioned that the chicken would take 25 minutes. About 40 minutes later a show-stopping roasted chicken arrived at our table. Its skin almost perfectly crispy was seasoned well. Its meat was tender and soft but not juicy, just a tad dry. I appreciated its natural jus that enhanced the flavor of accompanying vegetables, but I yearned for more zing. 

We had an amazingly authentic and simple but delicious time at La Cafette. Going back for brunch soon—French toast with caramelized bananas! 

Photo by Ben Lei on Unsplash