Easy to flip for crêpes at Ybor City’s La Creperia

Nutella, banana and strawberry fill the Romeo y Julieta crepe.

By Mary D. Scourtes
After the steep climb up the cobblestone path of Mont Saint Michel, an iconic village on the English Channel in France, we rewarded ourselves with a scrumptious chocolate crêpe (pronounced “krep”). These are so special that not eating one is like skipping a hot dog at a major league ballpark. The picturesque town is home to La Mère Poulard, where its cooks work at an open kitchen. I can still hear the rhythmic snare drum beat as their choreographed arms whisk eggs in metal bowls.

Ybor City’s La Creperia is a cramped, casual place, filled with brick-a brack, rickety wooden tables, random art and tchotchkes galore. A large bar predominates one side of the dining room, while a loft is filled with memorabilia. What the eatery lacks in formality, it makes up for with an ambitious menu. Indulge yourself with crêpe cravings for breakfast, dessert or dinner because, as the name implies, there are almost seven dozen versatile variations. While French in origin, La Creperie’s crêpe fillings cross ethnic lines where Mexican, Cajun, Greek and Italian ingredients become entwined. The names bear only faint relationships to the ingredients. Would you know the Butterball contains cream cheese and butterscotch; Last Wish folds in Nutella, bananas and orange liqueur; or that the Lulu lures in ham, cheese and pineapple? The 15-inch whole wheat crêpes are capable of delivering a sizable portion.

The Texan Crepe

If you stand next the kitchen, you’ll spy the crêpe master as he whisks the batter, cooks and fills crêpes and tucks the sides in to form triangles.  He garnishes the Pescadore with caviar after filling  it with asparagus, salmon and cream fraiche. Jambalaya pays homage to the Crescent City with mozzarella and cheddar cheeses,  shrimp and sausage — all punctuated with caramelized onions, garlic and Tabasco sauce. Mushrooms, tomatoes, spinach and olives fill a slightly crispy Vegetarian selection. Chicken, mozzarella and cheddar cheeses, olives and barbecue sauce do justice to The Texan.

A delicate white wine sauce excels with chicken, artichoke hearts and tomatoes in La French Riviera. La Creperie sells hundreds of these crêpes each week. Dinner crêpes are paired with a petite portion of lettuce, anointed with a red wine and olive oil vinaigrette. Paninis, pastas, salads and sandwiches round out the menu.

Choosing one or two dessert crêpes is especially difficult, so we settled on three. Hot Feeling is La Creperie’s name that I’d love to hear an explanation for. This dessert crêpe starts with a fine baker’s flour, sprinkles of sugar and cinnamon, and confectioners’ sugar. It would be better with real whipped cream rather than the ersatz topping it arrived with. Madame Suzette envelopes orange and lemon juices, caramelized sugar and Grand Marnier. A gentle Nutella, banana and strawberry Romeo y Julieta is the most popular of the sweet finds, and a worthwhile finale.

Open 6 years, La Creperia’s good headline act keeps guests returning for its thin, lacy crêpes, hot from the pan.

La Creperia Cafe
Find it: 1729 E. Seventh Ave., Ybor City
Hours: M 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., T, W and Th: 10 -10; F: 10 a.m. – 11 p.m., S: 9 a.m. – 11 p.m., Sun: 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Way to pay:  AE, Discover, MC, V
Drinks: Beer and wine
Reservations: Yes
Call: (813) 248-9700
http://www.lacreperiacafe.com

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Cooking crêpes: Whether beginner or expert, it’s easy to make your own crêpes if you’re ready for some quick moves with the pan. Choose from a multitude of fillings, from asparagus to savory sausage. Or add marshmallows, peanut butter and Nutella for dessert crêpes. Grab your favorite blue cheese, organic veggies and fresh herbs to come up with your own international invention. Read more

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Slice and a slab: Barbecue and pizza get a big smile out of Ken Elmore, who is bringing his favorite foods to Slice of Tampa, by the end of summer in the former home of Tate’s Pizza on Davis Islands. “We’ll be cooking ribs, chicken, pork and brisket in a Cookshack smoker,”  Elmore told the St. Petersburg Times. All will be topped with a variety of sauces. He makes thin, thick , traditional, wheat and gluten-free pizzas.  Elmore, who is active with  the Davis Islands Civic Association, plans to continue Tate’s goodwill with the community. Read the piece in the St. Pete Times.

Slice of Tampa Bay will be open daily at 235 E. Davis Blvd. from 11 a.m. to midnight. Visit www. slicetampabay.com or call (813) 254-5818

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Airstream attractions: Freshley’s Cafe serves breakfast and lunch in a refurbished Airstream trailer, located at the corner of Florida and Hillsborough Avenues. Operated by three generations — grandmother Karen, daughter Jackie and granddaughter and chef Ashley — Freshley’s cooks up banana wheat pancakes, an egg white frittata and grilled fish tacos, Mondays through Saturdays. The cafe, 5420 N. Florida Ave, is open 7 am to 2:30 pm Mondays through Fridays, and 8 am to 3 pm Saturdays. (813) 361-8190; www.freshleyscafe.com

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