There are certain days that are absolutely made for open-air dining. You know the ones–blue skies, zero humidity, light breeze–when those friendly little street-side cafes just seem to call out, “Come! Stay awhile! We have wine!”
Okay, well maybe not always that last part. In any event, my boyfriend and I found ourselves in Philadelphia on just such a Saturday not long ago. We contemplated our dining options: Reading Terminal Market? Always a hit–no matter what you or your dining partner are in the mood for, you both can let the spirit move you until you find the cuisine you fancy. Margaret Kuo’s? One of our favorites during undergrad, but alas, neither of us were having that very particular craving for Asian at the moment. The choice, it seemed, was clear:
As we turned off South Street onto 6th Street, we both immediately said, “Ohhh.” The street was tree-lined, quieter than the thoroughfares that bordered it, and filled with smaller, eclectic shops. And then we reached the creperie, on the corner of 6th and Bainbridge.
The maitre d’ asked us if we’d prefer indoor or outdoor seating, and we immediately opted for the outdoor section. We were seated at a table on a raised deck adjacent to the main restaurant, with a wrought-iron railing separating our table from the sidewalk.
|Wouldn’t you just want to sit and people watch here?|
Our waitress was more than happy to indulge our utter uncertainty–the menu at Creperie Beau Monde is seemingly endless. They serve both savory (buckwheat) and sweet (wheat) crepes, and although they give you plenty of suggested combinations for each, you can also mix and match any of the possible fillings you want. Permutations weren’t my strong suit in high school math, but I feel like the number of possibilities that produces is pretty darn high.
I finally settled on the coq au vin crepe for my lunchtime entree: chicken stewed with red wine, baby onions, tomatoes, mushrooms, carrots, and pancetta. I’ve ordered coq au vin a couple of times in French restaurants and I’ve always loved the blending of flavors, so I figured that encasing all that stewy goodness in a crepe could only enhance the deliciousness.
Um, I was right.
|It’s like the gastronomic version of a Christmas present wrapped up with a bow: EAT ME!|
Charlie–since he will be a recurring character, he probably deserves to have a proper name–chose the Cajun gumbo crepe (rice, okra, shrimp, and Cajun sauce), but also added Andouille sausage. (I honestly think he is immune to spiciness. We go to Indian restaurants and he has to ask them to bring sauces on the side that are amped up because if they are on the food they will literally cause me to pass out.) His looked scrumptious when they brought it out too:
I had a tiny bite, and it wasn’t terribly spicy, so I’m sure it was quite mild for him.
The crepes were, in my opinion, perfectly done–all the fillings were moist and evenly distributed, but the bottom of my crepe never got soggy or torn. There was plenty of chicken, and the red wine-y aroma permeated everything fantastically.
|My crepe upon first bite!|
We also got a side of seasoned red potatoes from the brunch menu, but those disappeared too fast for me to snap a photo of them. Suffice it to say that they were fabulous, crispy onion strings and all!
Now, you all know by now that for me, the true highlight of any meal is the dessert course. Trust me, Beau Monde did not disappoint. Our savory crepes were so substantial that both of us agreed we were too full to each get a dessert crepe, but splitting one seemed like a viable option. (A reader would do well to note: splitting a dessert with me requires a level of patience unknown to most of the male gender. I am very territorial about my sweets. I also have chronic dessert envy and thus will almost inevitably insist on having a bite of your dessert to ensure that I do not find it tastier than mine. I have been known to pout.)
Enter the dessert crepe, filled with Nutella and topped with vanilla ice cream and powdered sugar, with a dollop of Chantilly cream on the side. Heavenly? You’d better believe it.
I’ve been told the expression on my face after tasting this crepe was one that bordered on epiphany, and I don’t doubt it. The warm Nutella, coupled with the slight crunch of the crepe, met its match in the almost-too-sweet-but-just-sweet-enough combo of confectioner’s sugar and ice cream. I may or may not have swiped the last dustings of powdered sugar off the rim of the plate with my finger. Don’t lie; you’ve done it, too. (The waitress wisely had them divide this dessert crepe in the kitchen and bring it out on two plates. She must have intimate knowledge of sharing issues herself.)
If you find yourself down on South Street in Philadelphia and your tummy is a-rumbling, you definitely can’t go wrong stopping in at Creperie Beau Monde. They also have brunch and dinner menus, as well as daily specials. Don’t forget to explore the nooks and crannies of the Philly side streets while you’re out and about!