14 January 2012

Le Craperie Fort Collins

This cost me $12.

OK, it is juvenile to call a "creperie" a "craperie"--I apologize for that.  But really, this place kind of sucks.

You may know of my penchant for French goodies from reading my reviews of Le Central, one of my favorite restaurants in Denver, and Cafe Panache, one of the few edible restaurants in Greeley.  The way I see it (and I'm not in the food industry, just picky), great French food is about the ingredients.  It's also about technique if you're dealing with haute Parisian cuisine, but here in Northern Colorado, we just seem to keep getting the same southern French, down-home food.  Fine by me--it means I can get a good egg dish wherever I happen to be.  But all I'm saying is that, when it comes to crepes, omelets, and the occasional plate of mussels and fries, the best dishes are a product of terrific ingredients and minimal alteration by cooking.  The seasoning is not particularly exotic or complicated, either, so you can't hide if you use canned crap (though you should take some care in seasoning, too).

Having said this, I'm pretty sure La Creperie and Bakery of Fort Collins is using some canned crap, or old crap, or something not up to par.  When you look at the menu, it sounds exciting, doesn't it?  And there is no one else satisfying these tastes in Fort Collins right now, so I really wanted to like the place.  Despite the fact that they charge a whole lot more than the fabulous Le Central, I went in with an open mind.  At $12 for a crepe, I wasn't going to become a regular customer, but I would certainly tell you about it if it was tasty.

The galettes are made with the traditional buckwheat flour, and they are lovely--thin, spongy in the middle, crispy on the edges, and quite salty.  The filling is the problem.  The scrambled eggs are inoffensive, but get a bite by itself and you find there is little seasoning added.  Likewise, the spinach was unsalted and not properly drained, creating a big wet ball of slime here and there.  These are cheap and simple ingredients (and a staple of southern French cuisine), but they deserve respect.  Make them delicious--it's not difficult!

Smoked salmon features heavily on the menu, but it was quite fishy the day I visited.  I realize that we are not exactly living near a supply of fresh coho, but other restaurants manage to offer well-balanced fish, and at these prices, La Creperie can do it, too.  Or if not, then they need to cut the salmon from the menu.  It was incredibly unpleasant.  Likewise, the brie is thrown in unevenly in thick hunks, so one bite might be a nice balance of egg, caper, and cheese, but the next mouthful is nothing but a block of chalky, oozing brie and fishy salmon.  Doesn't sound too pretty, does it?

La Creperie also boasts its own bakery, and the croissants are quite nice--fluffy, buttery, and rather salty.  So are the baguettes, though I detected a slight burned flavor to the crust which was a little off-putting.  The coffee is also pleasant--medium-bodied with a pleasant nuttiness--but at $2.25 for a mere cup of the unadorned stuff, it's a pretty expensive way to enjoy a cup of coffee and a pastry in the morning.

Finally, the service is unapologetically slow, and they make no effort to bring meals out together.  They even say in their menu, "They are  made fresh to order and served immediately– hot and delicious – Perhaps not all at  once but don’t worry you won’t have to fend off your tablemates for long."   And then they direct you to eat your galette right away, even if everyone else at your table is still waiting for their food.  I don't understand this--do they only have one crepe maker?  Perhaps they could use some of that $15 I spent on lunch the other day and start saving up to order another one.  

Obviously, I don't have much to say that is positive about this place.  I would like for there to be a charming, delicious French bakery/creperie in Fort Collins, and I would even be willing to pay a little more once in a while to keep a great creperie going.  But La Creperie of Fort Collins is collecting  high fees for a low-quality product, and I can't wrap my brain around the notion of rewarding such behavior.  Perhaps, like Cafe Panache in Greeley, they need to create a smaller menu that they can consistently recreate every day.  But for the time being, I'd put my money on some nice Indian food down the street instead.