Without further ado, let me sum up this review in one word: Wow! Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let us begin. There are certain foods that we’ve grown accustomed to finding in a very specific form. The crepe is a prominent example: To find a version that’s not sweet, with Nutella-chopped almonds-butterscotch-colored sprinkles-white chocolate-Lotus spread-banana-etc, you’ll have to put in some effort. And even then, it may not pay off. Remember the lines that used to snake down the block on Friday nights in the 1990s in front of Henri’s Creperie in Dizengoff Square? Well, I’m pretty sure they also had a few savory versions on the menu, but I’d be ready to swear that no one ever ordered them. Crepes are for dessert. That’s what we’ve always been told.
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But the new creperie that just opened on Ibn Gvirol Street in Tel Aviv will turn your world upside down – at least when it comes to crepes, but maybe beyond. In just a few days, Bretagne Local Creperie (Bretagne Creperie Mekomi) has gone from quiet word-of-mouth to some serious buzz. The place is still finding its feet, the menu isn’t completely finalized, the guys behind the counter are still adjusting – but the food they have to offer is so great that it looks like we’ve already discovered one of this year’s big winners, and 2016 has barely begun.
First of all, forget about the soft, sweet crepe you’re used to. At Bretagne Creperie, they make the crepes fresh every day, using a traditional recipe from the Bretagne region of France, made of spelt flour, water and salt. And what goes inside? Cheeses (Emmental, labaneh, smoked mozzarella, Saint-Mor, vegan cheese), fish (pickled mackerel, salmon, anchovies), meat (sausage, goose breast, pastrami) and all kinds of vegetables. And never fear, there are plenty of sweet options too (Nutella, crème fraiche, caramel, cinnamon, peanut butter and jelly).
This is where one could still be skeptical. We’ve been to plenty of places that have tried to upgrade familiar foods in all sorts of decadent ways, but soon failed to catch on. It’s not surprising that when I’ve told people about this place lately, many were puzzled to hear my tremendous enthusiasm (over crepes? In 2016?), and also by some of the menu options (“It sounds like they’re going overboard”). But just to be sure, we tried a wide variety of things on the menu: a crepe with artichoke, truffle oil, pickled lemon, Emmental cheese (in place of vegan cheese), black pepper, garlic and arugula (NIS 38); a crepe with smoked mozzarella, potato, spinach, garlic and hot sauce (NIS 34); and a crepe with pastrami, rosemary, béchamel, Emmental, egg, garlic and hot sauce (NIS 32).
Aside from healthy cholesterol levels, you also need a little patience here. After hearing the elaborate (almost overly generous) explanation by one of the proprietors, you’ll have to wait a little while for the crepe of your choice. The crepe itself is ready in a minute, but assembling each one takes a little longer. But as you’ve certainly guessed by now, it’s definitely worth the wait.
At Bretagne Creperie they pour the batter onto the hot surface in a very measured amount, so that the crepe comes out thin and crisp. Surprisingly, it manages to hold all the fillings well. It doesn’t fall apart, and you can also eat it standing up, if you can’t find a place at one of the tables. Bite after bite, all three crepes we tried were delicious and brought together their varied components in perfect harmony: The slices of artichoke set the tone and blended wonderfully with the Emmental; the cubes of potato were soft and fun to eat, and were delightfully enhanced by the spinach and the relatively strong flavor of the mozzarella; and the meat crepe, which we had worried might be a tad heavy, was just the opposite – delicate pastrami, just the right amount of béchamel sauce, and a scrambled egg that lent volume and absorbed all the flavors.
Everything is prepared with great care and attention to detail, with light touches where needed. Take the garlic for example, which was present in all the crepes we tried. It could have easily been overpowering, becoming the only thing we remembered. But at Bretagne Creperie they use just a little garlic oil that adds a marvelous flavor but won’t saddle you with garlic breath for the rest of the day. The hot sauce didn’t make much of an impression, although it wasn’t really needed.
We didn’t really “need” dessert either, but that didn’t stop us from ordering a crepe with lemon sugar and cinnamon (NIS 18). Another sign of the careful thought that goes into everything here: The batter for the sweet crepes also contains white flour – i.e., gluten, so they are made completely separately in a side kitchen. And the crepe itself? So simple, and so very good. At first you experience the aroma and taste of the cinnamon, and gradually you start to feel the addictive lemony sweetness of the sugar. Let’s see you order it after one of the “main” crepes, and let’s see you not finish off every last bit of it.
Bretagne Creperie shines with originality, executes brilliantly, offers a splendid return for the price, and does it all in a way that’s such a pleasure for the taste buds. May it continue for a long time to come.
Bretagne Local Creperie, 52 Ibn Gvirol Street, Tel Aviv, (03) 635-8221. Open seven days a week, 12:00-24:00 (this may be subject to change).