9 February 2013
What better way to start my solo dining experience in early February than with a crêpe. Pancake day is on 12 February this year. I love any excuse to eat a pancake or, given my vie parisenne, a crêpe.
Here is a fun food fact: savoury crêpes are made with buckwheat flour or sarrasin in French and the nutella with chantilly cream on top, yes please, are always made with white flour.
I made my way to the area of Montparnasse in the 14th arrondissement of Paris. This is the destination to come for a crêpe. The trains from Montparnasse take you to Brittany or Bretagne the origin of the crepe in France. As a consequence the Bretons made this part of Paris theirs and opened their crêperies.
There are a plethora of crêperies on rue du montparnasse but the best is Josselin at no. 67 and her little brother at no. 59 with the emphasis on little.
I duly strolled onto rue du montparnasse at 8 and the queue outside no. 59 was 20 couples deep and 40 mins. I hesitated as the couples glanced at me and decided to try my luck at the little sister restaurant which had only 15 people waiting outside. It was cold. I started to shiver when the door opened and the waitress asked for party sizes: a few tables of 2 and a party of 5 and a party of one. Everyone turned to stare. The waitress said come right this way Mademoiselle. That’s more like it – party of 1 gets the VIP treatment!
It was super cold outside but inside it was hot. The room was small maybe 10 tables at most and a banquette against the back wall. It was a tight squeeze. All dark mahogany wood and lace lampshades with plates on the wall thrown in for good measure. The decor did conjure up images of visiting granny. The smell lingering in the air: 100% butter.
There was a choice of two tables, not tucked away in the corner but in the centre of the restaurant. The waitress let me pick. No table by the toilet because I was alone. You certainly don’t feel alone, your chairs touch your neighbour’s chair here!
Eating a savoury crêpe here is not for dieters or sufferers of cholesterol. They are made with pure butter and come loaded. There are the standard classics i.e. le complet – ham, cheese and an egg. There is so much choice but I decided to go for a special – le morbihannaise – cheese, fresh tomatoes, ham and an egg. What goes perfectly with a crêpe? Well cider of course drunk from a little bowl. I also find it cuts through the grease or that’s my justification for ordering a little jug rather than a single bowl.
The pancakes are baked to order and arrive fast and fills the plate. Starting from the crisp, nutty tasting, edges it builds into a crescendo of softness of: cheese, ham and tomato and as I reached the middle the yolk of the perfectly cooked egg bursts adding a pool of yellow glaze to contrast with the dark mahogany brown of the crêpe.
Between the crêpe and my 3 bowls of cider I was stuffed. The waitress left me to linger and at no time did I feel rushed. She asked if I wanted a dessert. Out of politeness I looked but I knew there was no room for dessert.
I paid a respectable €15 for my solo dish and cider ( they only take cash or plastic over €15 for the latter).
As I walked out, past the kitchen, even the chef wished me a good evening and said see you soon. Indeed he will!