It’s happened a couple of times; people visiting have asked we where to get a really good crêpe, and I didn’t really know.
Well now I do.
We’d heard a few good things about the Breizh Café – that there was a Japanese influence, for example – and even their own byline is intriguing “Crêpes that are different”. It seems that a lot of people visiting France really want to try out authentic crêpes, and yet for us, living here, it’s something that we’d never explored. Time to put that right with a visit to the Marais district and the Breizh Café.
If you wanted a taste of Brittany – home of the crêpe – without leaving Paris, this is it… to the max. The restaurant is decorated with wooden planks on the walls, with wooden stools at the bar and colourful paintings of stylised Brittany folk on the walls. Everywhere. The staff is dressed in stripy sailor-style tops, there is (loud) traditional celtic accordeon music playing in the background, and there is even a selection of magazines about Brittany that you can look through. It’s like they’re trying to shout at you CREPES ARE FROM BRITTANY.The main space is split into three main areas, modestly-sized, and the wooden stairs that you saw above lead not to a second room, as I initially thought, but just to the (impeccable clean) toilets.Despite the Brittany overkill, the staff are all exceptionally smily and kind, and before long we had ordered some organic cider and nibbles, what they call “snack galettes”, served rolled and chopped. One was filled with Auvergne blue cheese (think creamy rather than tangy), pine tree honey and walnuts. The other was with ‘burnt’ butter, which sounds awful but is actually very interesting when mixed with the taste of the crêpes. The evening was off to a good start.It’s surprising how fast those tiny bite-size galettes can go down, especially when aided by a “fresh, robust” cider. And reading the menu taught me a quick lesson: galettes are savoury crêpes and crêpes are sweet crêpes. How did I not know that before?
It was soon time to order our main dishes, the three of them all very different. The ‘Nordique’ (smoked Scottish red label salmon, farm-produced creme fraiche et chives) seemed classic on paper, but it was very easy to slice through, not heavy or salty. A success.The ‘Savoyarde’ looked altogether more substantial: pork belly, reblochon cheese made with unpasteurised milk, potatoes and green salad. Satisfied noises from our guests confirmed that it was very tasty indeed.The last crêpe was something a little lighter, almost experimental: a dry crêpe served with a bowl of Ribot farm milk (slightly curdled to give it extra tang), to which we added a side dish of salad with wasabi sauce. Although light for a main dish, it was interesting in both taste and texture, the only disappointment being that the salad really had no taste of wasabi at all. Shame.By now we had started our second bottle of cider, another organic one, this time described as ‘dry and ropy’. It certainly had a stronger, slightly less sugary taste than the previous bottle. And with just 4% alcohol content, cider is ridiculously easy to drink.Already time for dessert? Although it may look small, a galette is still quite a filling meal. Luckily – and as usual – we had left space for dessert. One basic crêpe flambéed with Grand Marnier was ordered, another (called ‘Duguay Trouin’ after a ship that took part in the battle of Trafalgar) flambéed with Grand Marnier, filled with marmelade and dribbled with chocolate, and one of the specialities of the day – a taste of Asia, with ‘mara des bois’ wild strawberries, green tea ice cream and yuzu butter. Take a look, then we’ll tell you how they were (perhaps you have an idea already…)Well, the Grand Marnier crêpe was appreciated, as well as being pretty strong, alcohol-wise. The chocolate-orange crêpe was delicate and not oversweet, and the asian-influenced crêpe was a roaring success: slightly salted, with the ice cream not too sweet and set off wonderfully by a crunchy, tasty crêpe. An epic finale!
By the way, if you’re wondering why there’s an asian influence at the Breizh Café, it’s because the first restaurant was founded in Japan by frenchman Bertrand Larcher. He had so much success that he decided to import the concept back to France!
We decided to finish off the meal with a coffe and a glass of chouchen, a type of mead, before leaving our table for the next diners (and people were lining up outside to get in).Even if we didn’t feel in total harmony with the décor, we were more than satisfied with our meal. It’s nice to see a French favourite like the crêpe being done well, and with a number of very ordinary crêperies around town, the choice is simple.
To see all our photos of the Breizh Café, just click the play button on the slideshow below, followed by the four little arrows bottom left to go into fullscreen mode (much more comfortable).
The Breizh Café (here) is open Wednesday – Sunday for lunch and dinner. Tel. +33 (0)1 42 72 13 77. Ideally, you should book a few day in advance to make sure you get a table.
More info: here