I have a thing for buckwheat crepes. When I first heard about this place opening, I gave a whoop for joy because…well, I love buckwheat crepes. A lot of fuss has been made about the name of the place and it being hard to pronounce, or remember, but honestly, the place that made me fall in love with buckwheat crepes, in Oakland, California, had a fancy French name that I couldn’t remember right now for a million bucks, and we just simply called it, “the crepe place.” So I’m not worried. I knew if I liked it, I would just call it whatever I wanted to. The owners of the restaurant suggest “CB.” I will probably just go with “the French place on Mass Ave.”
To be fair, it’s not just crepes—they serve a decent-sized French bistro type menu. This is cuisine that Indy is sorely lacking in, so it is a nice thing to see. The place is fairly large, and has a cute, French bistro feel with white tile and bistro chairs. The wait staff seemed enthusiastic. Our server warned us that a large party’s order had been put into the kitchen just before us and that our order might take a bit longer than normal. I appreciated that. I also appreciated the complimentary half loaf of French bread and healthy dose of butter they put on the table while we contemplated the menu. It’s been awhile since I have been offered that at a restaurant that wasn’t a steakhouse. The bread was chewy and tasty, even if it wasn’t as crisp on the edges as most French baguettes. We both enjoyed it.
Ok, so the crepe you ask? The crepe was really quite good—it totally met my buckwheat crepe craving. I had “la galette complete” ($9), which is a flat buckwheat crepe stuffed with Gruyere cheese, country ham, and an organic egg (it’s served with a very runny yolk—but they do ask to make sure you’re good with this). The crepe was thin and had just a hint of crisp edges (I love a little crispy edge on my savory crepe). The egg mixed with the cheese and ham to give a creamy, salty taste. I like these kind of thin, flat crepes better than the super fat stuffed ones you find on a lot of menus where the stuffing dominates the crepe itself by miles.
My friend Suzanne’s crepe, “la galette forestiere” ($9) was also very tasty. This was a richer taste with a creamed mushroom mix and crème fraiche. You could add house-cured bacon for $2 more. She did get the bacon—I was a little surprised it was on top of the crepe instead of inside it, but the more I thought about it, it was probably for the best because it stayed nice and crisp. If it had been mixed with all that creaminess, it would have gotten soft. The crème fraiche gave a nice slightly tangy edge to the fairly rich insides. The crepe, again, was cooked nicely with just a touch of crispy edges. The bacon was also cooked just right. I preferred mine to this one, just because, well, there’s in egg in mine (duh), but both were good. (My ideal buckwheat crepe is egg, Gruyere and sautéed mushrooms in case anyone wants to make that for me).
Sadly, once you got beyond the crepes themselves, things started to suffer a bit. The mixed greens that came alongside were in fact, a nice mix of greens, and were clearly dressed with something, but whatever the dressing was made of, it needed to include some sort of vinegar or acid. It just tasted totally flat. After one bite, I gave up on them.
We also ordered a side of the frites with roasted garlic aioli and these were very disappointing as well. They look good in the picture, and I was excited to try them, but after one or two, they were all just way too soft and soggy and not worth the calories. I feel like with some perfecting, these could have some hope. Maybe another run through the fry-o-later or something. They are housemade, but they just lack the crispness that a good fry needs. I really want them to be good though, so I hope they keep working on them. The aioli was strangely brown in color, I think mostly roasted garlic and less of the mayo part of aioli, but neither of us really cared for it. I like a little more creaminess to my aioli. You can also get ketchup.
The main dishes were good—the sides not so much. I am looking forward to going back to give this place more chances though because the menu is promising and we need a little French place downtown in the worst way. Who else has been?
Cropichon et Bidibule
735 Massachusetts Avenue