- CREPE SCRAPE: Clayton Otwell prepares a fresh French pancake at Lemon.
It takes some daring to open a restaurant with a menu restricted to crepes, coffee and fancy waters — including cucumber water — in a place fairly distant from the Left Bank. And then to name it Lemon!
But if anyone can make a creperie work, it might be Brett Todd. Her new little pancake bistro on Kavanaugh is serving up very good food within its bright yellow and lima bean green walls. It's a tad pricy — five crepes and three drinks ran our party $43 — but the fat-wallet set might not mind.
Todd was retired briefly from what she calls the “trash” business (she worked at Waste Management) when she and her husband decided to replicate here what they'd enjoyed in Europe. She went to crepe school and barista school and a month ago opened Lemon in a Hillcrest storefront, the former location of
Gallery 26 before its move a couple of doors down. It's a place to drink espresso, eat healthy (mostly) and maybe watch a little high-def television between the hours of 7 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. We'd like to see it open late at night as well, but we're getting ahead of ourselves.
Both savory and sweet crepes are made right before your eyes here, with a batter that blends a little whole wheat into the mix. The result is light but not insubstantial. The savory menu includes egg and cheese crepes (ham, bacon and sausage may be added) for the breakfast crowd as well as vegetarian, turkey, ham, lox, chicken, hummus and shrimp salad crepes. There are three ham choices: ham and cheese, French ham and brie, and pineapple, ham and cheese. They're sizeable — about the size of a wrap sandwich — and nicely stuffed. Our associates ordered the ham and cheese ($8), the ham finely shaved and the cheese a combination Colby-cheddar-jack variety, and the chicken crepe ($10, ouch!), tucked with tender strips of grilled chicken breast, cheese, spinach and tomatoes and served with a creamy mushroom sauce on the side. We chose the shrimp salad ($10, ouch!). We were glad we did. It was perfect: crispy celery chunks, a little onion, a little egg, a little mayonnaise and tiny shrimpers. Todd told us it's been a favorite — one customer ordered it in quantity — and based on her grandmother's chicken salad recipe.
We would have been perfectly happy with the chicken and ham and cheese crepes as well. All were served with sweet ripe strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and kiwifruits, not a sour note among them, and a scattering of baby lettuce leaves dressed with balsamic vinegar and oil.
One of our associates had super-sweet fresh-squeezed lemonade ($3, ouch!) with her lunch. She could have opted for fresh-squeezed orange juice; we would have, had we not decided that tea ($2) was more appropriate to the hour. We also could have ordered a Jones soda, made with pure cane sugar, or lemon water or a Perrier. Very civilized.
Since we were eating on the Times' nickel and despite the fact that shrimp salad isn't exactly low-cal, our trio followed savory with sweet and ordered, of course, a crepe Suzette. And what the heck, we had a Nutella crepe as well, served with a huge dollop of whipped cream. Good grief it was good. One of our associates, whose palate is a little more refined, preferred the Suzette, which is Grand Marnier, sugar and butter. Let's list here the remaining sweet crepes just to drive you crazy: The Lemon (butter, whipped cream, sugar and lemon to squeeze), a fresh fruit crepe, the Funky Monkey (peanut butter, banana, chocolate chips and syrup), the Smores (chocolate chips, marshmallows and graham cracker crumbs, the Sticky (honey, preserves or syrup with butter and lemon), cinnamon raisin and cheesecake. They run $5 to $9.
In days of yore, we used to like to spend a late afternoon with a bottle of Beaujolais and sugary crepes. You can't get a glass of wine at Lemon yet, but Todd is applying for a license to serve wine and beer. Perhaps she'll reduce the crepe prices when the libations are available; a beer and a pancake for maybe $15 is pretty steep.
2611 Kavanaugh Blvd.
Lemon will stay open late the first Thursday of every month for the neighborhood's Shop and Sip. Cappucino and crepes sound about right after an evening of wine and walking.
7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday (subject to change).
No wine and beer yet. Credit cards accepted.