When I saw what looked like an honest-to-god French creperie being built on the ground floor of the Medical Arts Building on Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis, I was beside myself with excitement. In a pre-opening interview with the Strib, owner Alain Lesse said, “Everyday for the past few weeks, we’ve had 80 to 100 people poke their head in and ask, ‘When are you opening?’”
I think I was at least six of those people.
So, I ventured in today for lunch. I know they’ve only been open for two weeks, but it was…not so hot.
The décor is not the problem. It actually looks quite French, with a big brass chandelier and granite counters in a teeny tiny chocolate-and-buff room. I kind of felt like I was in Paris, if off in one of the more distant arrondissements.
The actual crepes are not the problem, either. The whole-wheat crepe I ordered was altogether correct: thin, tender, light and bubbly.
The menu, however, is part of the problem. There’s no plain cheese crepe, no plain ham-and-cheese crepe, no plain egg-and-cheese crepe, no plain nutella crepe. There are only more expensive combinations. The majority of items on the menu hover around $7. Fine.
I dearly love the crepes you get on street corners in France filled with a fried egg, sheets of ham, and cheese griddled until it becomes a filling, gooey grilled cheese. And so I ordered the breakfast “classic,” which costs $6.99 and is filled with eggs, gruyere, and your choice of meat (ham, smoked turkey, chicken, or bacon). What I got: Dry crumbles of scrambled egg and ham cubes folded into a crepe, with undetectable amounts of cheese. When I picked it up to eat it, the whole thing exploded like moist potpourri folded into damp tissue paper. Luckily, I spend enough time with toddlers that I have mad skills when it comes to dodging flying food, but—dang!—that wasn’t right.
I’ll be back to try the sweet crepes, like the plain sugar and lemon juice one, and the orange marmalade and crème fraiche one, mainly because they are liquid-ish and must avoid the dry-egg-no-cheese paradigm, and I’d advise you to do the same.
La Belle Crêpe
825 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis