Thursday, January 7, 2010

Cafe Crepe - A quick version of a French classic

A popular franchise found downtown and in other parts of Vancouver, Café Crepe is a bit of an oddity. Is it a respectable sit-in establishment for European cuisine, or is it a fast-food restaurant ideal for people in a hurry? In the end, it aims for both, and although the atmosphere and service may suffer a little as a result, it still succeeds in providing an extremely wide variety of delicious (and portable!) crepes, making it a perfect pit stop for hungry Olympic visitors on the go.

Taken from user oumtulip on

About the restaurant:  There are two types of Café Crepe restaurants: regular and Express. The former have a reasonably robust seating area where wait staff will bring you a menu, take your order, and so on. The Express restaurants, on the other hand, are focused more on a fast food model and thus play “quick and dirty”; the menu is trimmed down, the seats are fewer and less elaborate, and you must order and collect food from the counter yourself. All Café Crepe restaurants have a large open front window where you can place take-out orders. There is a large circular grill lined with glass where the chefs will prepare your crepes while you watch; it’s quite an entertaining show in its own right and will keep you occupied while you wait for your takeout.

As a general rule, the sitting area is nothing to write home about in either type of Café Crepe; the décor mostly consists of black walls and Toulouse-Lautrec posters. The Express restaurants can seem a little uncomfortable as well compared to the cozy leather seats of the regular branches. In my experience, however, they have always been decently clean, and the food more than made up for the unimpressive ambiance… doubly so if you are only getting takeout! As for service, some people have complained about slow or unhelpful servers, but my experiences have only been positive.

Taken from user oumtulip on

The food: There is a common assumption that crepes are a sweet dish, and as such many people imagine Café Crepe as a dessert café. On the one hand, the franchise certainly does have a great selection of dessert crepes, with every possible permutation of honey, nuts, chocolate, Nutella, chocolate and maple syrup as well as a few speciality crepes such as rum and banana, or strawberries and cognac. I rather like the caramel cream crepe, though it may be a bit sweet for others. However, Café Crepe also has an equally respectable selection of savory crepes that are warm, filling, and mellow. Most of the flavors are analogous to sandwiches (e.g. tuna salad, chicken and egg) the use of a hot crepe as the wrap gives everything a more satisfying texture. Many of the selections use European cheeses such as emmenthal, giving a more high class taste and presentation. 

Taken from Geoff Peters via Urbanspoon

Besides the crepes, there is also a selection of baked goods, Panini, etc. One of the most popular non-crepe dishes is the Hot Dog Parisien, a long sausage served on a 30 cm (12 inch) baguette and topped with emmenthal cheese and béchamel sauce. There’s also a good selection of non-alcoholic drinks, including the best milkshake in the entire universe: Nutella milkshake. It’s sweet and rich and super thick, and any fans of Nutella, chocolate or hazelnut should give it a try.

Be aware that not all dishes will be available at Café Crepe Express; they do not serve milkshakes, and some of the more elaborate crepes are missing. The food they do produce, however, is easy to wrap up and eat on the run, with most crepes simply wrapped in a cone and ready to eat with one hand.

My favourites:  Chicken and egg crepe, caramel crepe, Nutella milkshake.

Cost: As befits its hybrid nature, prices are slightly higher than a fast food outlet but lower than a sit-in restaurant. Savory crepes and baked goods sell for 5-7 dollars, with sweet crepes going from $3-7. Soft drinks are a little more expensive than vending machine prices, and teas are $2.

Take-out?:  Yes. This is actually a big draw of the place, and food is prepared so as to be eaten easily while on the go.

Delivery?:  No.

Licensed?:  Yes. Beer is available.

Location(s): Several places in Vancouver, but mostly concentrated downtown. Link to Google Maps

Website and menus: Not available.

Summary: While the atmosphere and service may not be particularly impressive, Café Crepe still wins people over with its variety, its excellent quality, and its convenience. If you have a few minutes between Olympic events, grab a crepe to go; if you have a bit longer, sit and enjoy a little taste of France in the heart of Vancouver.

Cafe Crepe on Urbanspoon
Cafe Crepe on Urbanspoon


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