Cafe Crepe Symphony shouldn't be so secret: Weekly Dish originally published in the Edmonton Sun March 13, 2012
Café Crepe Symphony
10115 100A Ave. (Rice-Howard Way)
Call for reservations
Food: 4 of 5 stars
Ambience: 3 of 5 stars
Service: 4 of 5 stars
Dinner for two (without beverages):
Basic, $20; Multi-course, $40
It’s tucked away in a Rice-Howard Way nook, beside the popular Tres Carnales, with a construction depot for the LRT Jasper Avenue overhaul right outside its doors.
But the Café Crepe Symphony should not be such a secret.
It ought to be as busy as Tres Carnales next door, Sugarbowl in the Bridge District or DaDeO in Old Strathcona.
Its crepes – for that is what the Crepe Symphony does – are that good.
So often, all one wants from a restaurant is something grease-free, light, refreshing and inexpensive. Yet the options are so limited.
Enter, at least for those close to downtown, the Crepe Symphony.
The menu is straightforward. Savoury crepes as a main course, sweet crepes for dessert, breakfast crepes in the morning.
Two good-sized crepes for each serving, with the most delicious of fillings.
There’s a real chef in this kitchen, owned and operated by two sisters originally from Russia, Naida Valieva and Zaida Tataeva.
My jerk chicken crepes were quite perfect, chopped fresh chicken breast with just the right amount of Caribbean spice to be interesting but not burning, folded into a cool mix of tomato, red onion and feta. For $11, this is a meal unto itself.
It’s in kitchen-crafted sauces that Crepe Symphony excels. The crowning touch on the jerk chicken crepes was a criss-cross of a strong aioli. The shrimp crepes came alive thanks to a drizzle of spicy tomato diablo sauce.
What the Crepe Symphony doesn’t tell you is the quality of its side dishes. For $3 more, you can upgrade main-course crepes to include a soup or a salad.
At the risk of hyperbole, these were two of the best “side dishes” I’ve ever had. The mushroom soup and spinach salad would be hits in the finest restaurants in town, the soup hot, a pureed blend of fresh mushrooms, dill, a touch of garlic, croutons and enough cream to enhance, but not overwhelm the other ingredients. The spinach salad had the freshest of spinach, glistening strawberries and mandarin orange sections, with a light, grated cow-feta and a most fragrant raspberry vinaigrette.
The sweet crepes, judging from a classic flambéed Crepe Suzette, are just as good. The flambé was properly done, giving the double crepe its liqueur taste and light syrupy touch, with lemon and icing sugar. The café offers a wide choice of gelato scoops, and nothing adds to a Crepe Suzette like a mango or crème brule gelato.
The only problem Crepe Symphony has is in its marketing. Such delicious soups and salads should be featured in their own right.
On top of the sweet crepes, Crepe Symphony has a bakery counter where specialized cakes (Caprice, Tiramisu, Napoleon, Coffee) made by Zaida sell by the slice … and they are Duchess Bakery quality!
The atmosphere is upscale fast-food, slightly Starbucks-like with a full-scale espresso machine, wood chairs and tables, some lounging chairs and, inexplicably, a flat-screen TV on the wall. Crepe Symphony is currently open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturdays. The plan is to open earlier for breakfast once the darned construction site outside its doors is gone,.
For a light, tasty and inexpensive supper downtown, you’ll not find better value.
*Kicking off Friday until Sunday March 24 is Downtown Dining Week, with 30 restaurants offering special pre-set $15 lunches, $25 or $50 dinners. All info at www.edmdowntown.com. Great value, as long as you‘re content with restricted choices.
*Garlic lovers and garlic cooks, Sorrentino’s 22nd annual Garlic Festival – Love at First Sniff – runs April 8 to May 11. The deadline to submit recipes for the Garlic Cook-Off recipe contest (the grand prize a trip to California) is March 24. See www.sorrentinos.com for details.