Crepe in Paradise
"Crêpes spring eternal in the human breast."
Okay, so it's actually hope that springs eternal. But it seems at least once a year some plucky local restaurateur gets it into his or her toque to open an establishment devoted to the purveying of these thin, delicate, undeniably sexy little wafers of milk, flour, and eggs, hoping their venture lasts longer than it takes to say, "Crêpes suzettes."
This year's entry in the sweepstakes is Crêpe Lounge. (We'll ignore the fact it really debuted several months ago in late, unlamented 2007.) And although local crêperies tend to have the life span of a fly, this one might actually show some legs.
Shapely ones too. Despite an almost-invisible location in a Key Biscayne shopping mall, and a closet-size dining room that might make brooms claustrophobic, Crêpe Lounge is a looker. Sunny, faux-painted walls; cool slate floor; gleaming chrome-top tables; a pair of sleek Moderne sofas (apparently the lounge); and a tall "water treatment" that emits soothing burbles as a pair of flat-screen TV sets flicker with a silent soccer game. For a low-budget effort, it's really quite stylish.
The menu is mostly crêpes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, fleshed out with a handful of soups and salads and a brief roster of modest but agreeable wines, like a crisp, mineraly unoaked 2007 Chardonnay from Argentina's La Linda winery.
The crêpes offer variety, if not an excess of inventiveness, from ham and cheese and assorted combinations with eggs to ratatouille, beef stroganoff, and a Mexican-esque affair with ground beef and guacamole. There's a touch of India, too, in crêpes filled with curried chicken and masala lentil soup, the latter a light, savory broth filled with diced veggies and the appropriate legumes, assertively spiced but not spicy with masala.
A "Mediterranean" salad is a tricked-out mound of crisp mesclun greens with cherry tomatoes, red onion, olives, and a bit of seafood — tender rings of calamari and a quartet of fresh-tasting shrimp — all tossed with a restrained balsamic vinaigrette. It's nice enough, though you'd hope 18 bucks would at least buy a bit more imagination.
That curried chicken crêpe wasn't exactly cutting-edge, either, but it was very well done — the crêpe thin yet slightly chewy, with big chunks of tender poultry paired with tomatoes, raisins, and shaved almonds in a mild curry sauce. Those of the vegetarian persuasion should need little persuading to try the "Romini" crêpe, a surprisingly substantial mélange of tomatoes, mushrooms, pesto, and molten mozzarella that belted out basil's sweet, summery tune.
Running a similar gamut are dessert crêpes, gilded variously with Nutella, fresh fruit, dulce de leche, and more. Still, there are few better showcases for the perfectly made crêpe than the classic suzette, which traditionally showers the object of its affection with a lusciously sweet-tart sauce based on butter and orange liqueur. Crêpe Lounge adds a scoop of vanilla ice cream and thin slices of poached orange to tasty effect, enough to get hopes springing that this cute little purveyor of milk, flour, and egg wafers will actually stick around awhile.
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