If you’ve been to France, you know.
Sometimes the most enjoyable food is the simplest, like the crepes you find on a Paris street corner, filled with Nutella or jam, folded quickly and sprinkled with powdered sugar.
Pascal Berthoumieux, owner of Evanston’s acclaimed Bistro Bordeaux, knows this truth first hand, and he’s brought it to fruition in just a few short months.
Evanston still mourns the loss of Donatella Majore, killed tragically last summer, and the shuttered eponymous restaurant that she owned. Berthoumieux has cleverly reworked the space into a cozy bistro, replete with banquettes and a gigantic wall mural of the Paris Metro map. The chairs are classic, French wood bistro, and your silverware comes wrapped in a soft hand towel that doubles as a napkin.
Lovely Start to the Meal
The Salade d’Artichaud ($7) is filled with interesting tastes and textures like pickled mushrooms and artichokes, crispy fried artichokes, sweet-tart confit of shallots and a piquant tarragon vinaigrette.
Or perhaps you’d prefer a more traditional starter, like the Soupe a l’Oignon ($4/7), the same rich beef broth, caramelized onions and melty Gruyere cheese we’ve always loved at Bistro Bordeaux.
You can’t go wrong with the silky smooth Mousse de Foie de Volaille ($5), a thick slab of chicken liver terrine paired with garlicky crostini, Dijon mustard and cornichons; or the Tarte aux Oignons ($6.50), a small tart made of puff pastry, filled with caramelized onions and the buttery, creamy bleu cheese Saint Agur, accompanied by a petite green salad.
Get Your Crêpe On
On to the main event: the crêpes. There are nine entrée crêpes to choose from.
If you’re looking to recreate your experience in the 5th Arrondissement, you’ll want to order the Puriste ($9), filled with French ham, aged Gruyere and a classic Mornay sauce. For the adventurous, opt for the Canard Confit ($13), with meltingly moist duck, white bean stew, Swiss chard, chunky carrots and celery topped with outrageous onion marmalade. This crepe had fabulous flavor, but could have been a wee bit saucier, and I could never get enough of those onions. Pour ‘em on!
The Bourguignonne ($12), braised short ribs simmered in red Burgundy, and the Coq au Vin ($12) were very similar in flavor, using essentially the same sauce, and it was a little too salty for my taste. I wish that I had ordered the Forestiere ($12), with chunks of Amish chicken, mushrooms, dill-bechamel sauce and fresh goat cheese, instead.
A note to the wise: all crêpes come with a small green salad, simply dressed in vinaigrette. But you might not know that you can order Pommes Frites a la Graisse de Boeuf ($4), those fabulous skinny beef tallow French fries with aioli sauce for maximum dippage.
Sweet Crepes: Ooh-la-la!
I almost hate to write about the dessert crêpes, because describing them and not being able to eat them at the same time is physically painful. Here’s the deal: You are not allowed to skip dessert here. As a matter of fact, you might want to stop by in the middle of the afternoon for a little pick-me-up along with a cup of dark, roasty Julius Meinl French-press coffee.
Order the Marquis ($6), chocolate crêpes wrapped around a dark chocolate mousse, napped with strawberry compote and fresh raspberry coulis. Wow.
Or maybe you’re more the apple type. The Normande ($6) is filled with slices of caramelized apples, candied walnuts and whipped cream, gilded with caramel sauce. As long as you’re at it, go for a scoop of Homer’s Pecan Praline on the side. You will never regret it.
And yes, I’ll be back with my kids when they return for spring break, because a crêpe filled with bananas and Nutella is their idea of dessert perfection. I love that the menu is the same from open until close, so whether you’re in the mood for a full dinner, a quick soup and salad, or an afternoon snack, they’ve got you covered.
3.5 out of 5 stars
Creperie Saint Germain
1512 Sherman Ave.