Lunch Break: Chocolate & Crepes in Alphabet City

I work in Midtown Manhattan. Now, normally this provides for some pretty interesting sights. Free movies in Bryant Park, more food trucks of every conceivable ethnic variety than one could possibly choose from, and a whole lotta tourists (okay, so sometimes that part is exasperating).

But at other times? At other times the constant hustle and bustle and GOGOGO of Manhattan just gets to me. And so last week, thanks to an about-to-expire Groupon, I decided to take a field trip waaaay downtown to St. Marks Place during my lunch break. People, it’s a whole different world south of 14th Street.

When I got off the subway at Astor Place, I meandered along, just soaking up the sheer downtown-ness and its contrast to the much more buttoned-up atmosphere in Midtown. It even seemed sunnier downtown, if that was possible–although this may have been a manifestation of my excitement, hah. And I had nearly reached my destination–Motek Creperie, where I was entitled to $12 worth of crepes, coffee, or other delicious fare–when I saw this sign out of the corner of my eye:


Oh, just hold the phone now. There are few things I love more than chocolate. But things that are free are way up there. Of course you know I detoured and wandered right in.

Byron, the president of The Chocolate Library, assured me that the broken-up bits of dark chocolate on the counter were indeed free for the tasting. And when he found out I was a part-time food blogger, he brought out this bowl of Fearless brand chocolates so that I could sample even more of their products! Of the ones in this box, I sampled the Exploding Coconuts and Sweet & Hot Hibiscus Ginger flavors, both of which were variations I’d never tried before (I’m usually a chocolate purist, mostly due to my being skeptical about anything that doesn’t contain ganache). They were also both organic raw chocolate with a really high percentage of cacao, which gave them a cool flavor I can only describe as “earthy.”

The coconut one was just a little bit crunchy and pleasantly sweet–I liked it even though I’m not usually a coconut person. And the hibiscus ginger one–which I was the most nervous about, since I’ve never really gotten the hang of the whole chili/chocolate trend–was so interesting to eat. It started out quite mild, with just a hint of spiciness to it. Gradually you noticed a bit more heat, and it really left a kick in your mouth with the aftertaste. I don’t know if it’s the chocolate I’d choose for my Easter basket, but as something of a couture chocolate product, it was definitely unique and really flavorful.

I also got to try this Pacari bar, another raw organic chocolate, this one made with maca. Apparently (thanks, Wikipedia), maca is a South American variety of plant used in lots of different food and medicinal recipes, but also (and this is perhaps why it’s best known in the U.S.) marketed as an aphrodisiac. Go figure.

After my oh-so-brief chocolate detour, I was back on my way to Motek Creperie.

I decided to stray from my M.O. a little bit and opted for a savory crepe instead of ordering off the sweet menu. I know, I know, crazy, right? But seriously, when I read this: sauteed spinach, tomato, and honey-roasted turkey with aioli–I knew I’d found my sandwich soulmate in crepe form. Besides, woman doth not live on Nutella alone, right?
So, they make your crepe for you rightthere. On the little crepe griddle, in the window. Taking my food excitement to the next level.
Not having sugary second thoughts. No no no. (Are you seeing the strawberry jelly and the Nutella and the white chocolate spread on that shelf?! Yeah, me neither.)
Motek also had a really cute seating area for those customers who ate their crepes on premises, as well as a bunch of other tantalizing sweets on display in these little jars on the counter.
Now, let’s talk about this crepe. Is your tummy rumbling for lunch yet?
Not pictured: the ENORMOUS iced coffee that kept me from dying of dehydration between St. Marks and Midtown. Totally clutch addition to this lunch.

It should be. This turkey crepe totally lived up to my savory expectations. The aioli gave just the perfect amount of zest to this crepe without being too heavy or gloppy–it was an excellent match to play up a fairly mild roasted turkey. I do wish that the turkey had been a bit more substantial–Motek used sliced deli meat rather than pieces of breast meat, and they got a bit lost between the folds of crepe. The crepe itself was soft with just a hint of sweetness, pairing nicely with the sweetness of the sliced heirloom tomatoes. And the spinach provided a great counterpoint, salty and a little garlicky thanks to that sauteeing.

I think my favorite thing, though, was how well-layered this was–a good quality of any crepe! With each piece you cut out of the triangle, you had all of the flavors present in each bite–a little spinach, tomato, turkey, and aioli no matter where you cut from, very evenly distributed so that no one taste ever overpowered the others.

The verdict? I wish I had about 10 more Groupons. I guess I’ll just have to treat myself to another day downtown so I can sample something from the sweet side of Motek’s menu…maybe during their sweet crepe happy hour from 5-7!

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10 thoughts on “Lunch Break: Chocolate & Crepes in Alphabet City

  1. @Jessica– It really was! Definitely a treat to do something different and fun.@Brigid– Heeheehee…I take that on your authority! Should you happen to have any other revelations about places I should go whilst you are out carousing, you have my phone number. :)@Marla– I'm glad I could bring some nostalgia to your life! Downtown's a fun place and, as I'm sure you know, never the same day by day!

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