On the hunt for some dessert one evening of late, we strolled past a little booth signposted ‘Crepes’ on St Marks Place in the East Village. But i was reluctant to stop. I’m not one for crepes – I usually find them too soft and mushy for my liking. However tonight, my dessert date was sold – and because it looked like a cute & interesting place, i obliged. And i’m very glad i did, because this turned out to be the real deal as far as a crepe experience goes.
The outlet is as simple as it gets. A worn, faded flag of Breton (the French word for Brittany) hangs above the counter, and a sign for ‘Crepes from Brittany’ sits on the sidewalk out front. Though, as we soon learned, there’s far more to this hole in the wall than meets the eye.
As we peered through the opening, a chirpy Frenchman pops his head out & welcomes us warmly. His name is Jean-Christophe Henry, and he’s from Brittany in the north-west of France. We’re struck by how friendly & warm he is, and his passion for & knowledge about crepes shines through immediately.
He chats away enthusiastically, bestowing all sorts of facts about crepes on us (e.g that Brittany is actually where crepes originated from, which i did not know) and invites us into his tiny kitchen to see where the action happens. We’re given a taste of the delicious bananas he’s been cooking in rum & spices, and that was enough for us to be sure we’d stumbled upon a gem here.
Jean-Christophe’s crepes are made using an old family recipe dating back to the late 19th century. In Eastern Brittany, he explains, you’ll find galettes, which are thick and made solely from buckwheat flour. His on the other hand, are from Cornouaille in Western Brittany, and have an added touch of wheat flour which gives them a lighter texture.
We order the ‘Caramel Beurre Sale & Whipped Cream’ – after Jean-Christophe informs us that both his caramel sauce and vanilla bean whipped cream are homemade, we couldn’t resist trying them out – and ask him to throw in some of his special banana filling also.
As we wait, we’re treated to a complimentary mini-crepe filled with butter & sugar as a taster. With just one bite, he’s already proven to us just how great his crepes are. They’re paper thin and lighter & flakier than any other crepe i’ve tried.
Jean-Christophe uses 2 separate griddles to create these wonderful crepes: one on which the batter is poured and the other (20 degrees cooler than the first) on which the crepe gets adorned with toppings & folded.
The pancake was supremely delicate and i totally loved the flaky texture. And this Frenchman really knows how to dress a crepe – the quality of his toppings was fantastic. His homemade salted caramel was brilliant – he refuses to use anything but the highest quality salt from Brittany – & we greedily asked for an extra drizzle half way through. His vanilla bean whipped cream was just perfect.
This was my first time eating an authentic French crepe from Brittany, and it was outstanding. I’ll definitely be back for more.
Dips Bites: Surely this has to be the crepe to beat in NYC? From the charming customer service, to the passion behind the operation, to the delightful end product, this was the most satisfying crepe i’ve ever eaten.
It was honestly so refreshing to find such an honest and genuine operation in the city. I really believed in the authenticity of Jean-Christophe’s crepes from Brittany and applaud him for bringing them to the streets of New York. Go there, hear his story and try those wonderful crepes – i doubt you’ll be disappointed. This one man East Village operation deserves all the customers it gets.