Lunchbox : Helena’s Creperie
Chocolate? Crepes? Lunch? If this seems like an anomaly, put aside your concerns. In addition to sweet crepes, Helena’s Chocolate Café & Creperie offers savory selections,soup, and decadent desserts that make for a tasty midday meal.
The day of our visit, the soup du jour was billed as split pea with ham ($3.50/cup). A nice surprise—rather than being blended together, the ingredients were presented in a clear, rich broth sweetened with root vegetables. Slivers of baked ham, carrots, celery, onions, and peas added a flavorful texture to the soup, which was deliciously warming on a rainy afternoon.
Crepes are made to order and can be prepared as either a classic thin pancake concocted with white flour, or as a traditional galette using buckwheat flour. Savory fillings include ham, gruyere cheese, spinach, tuna, smoked salmon, and eggs. Types of crepes and fillings can be mixed and matched, and a vegetarian version is also available.
I chose the traditional galette for the a la Grecque crepe with the addition of tomatoes to the spinach, feta cheese, lemon and dill filling ($6.25). The crepe was thin and light without any buckwheat aftertaste. The spinach, though, was a disappointment. Instead of fresh, crisp greens, the spinach was overcooked and lank, producing a bitter flavor that was heightened by the feta. This was tempered by the sweet tomatoes and the crepe itself. The lemon provided a little zing, and a whisper of dill complemented the dish.
My companion added capers and tomatoes to the Smoked Salmon crepe ($7), which includes lightly smoked salmon, lemon, dill and crème fraiche, and ordered it encased in the classic pancake. At first bite, the salmon flavor was most pronounced. The crème fraiche added tang, and the capers produced a tart, salty finish. After a few more bites, the salmon became less prominent, and the flavors meshed with the crepe to form a delightfully different take on an old favorite.
Selecting dessert was a challenge. The sorbets, house-made gelatos, cheesecakes (lemon curd, Key Lime, white chocolate lavender ganache), flourless chocolate cake, éclairs, macaroons, and chocolates all called to us from the display case. I couldn’t resist the éclair—puff pastry filled with custard and whipped cream and topped with a rich chocolate ganache ($4.50). The hazelnut gelato ($2) had a smooth, creamy texture and a subtle hazelnut flavor. At the end of this meal, we were happily sated.
Total price including tax for one soup, two crepes, two desserts, and two coffees was $28.89. Tucked into a High Street storefront, just steps away from the Carlisle Theatre, the café offers eat-in and take-out service.
Reviewer RD | October 2012