The Food Review with Andrea Duarte
Introducing: Andrea Duarte, your Coffey Break food expert!
Chelsea and I share a love and passion for good food, so we thought we'd collaborate to share my experiences by trying the newest, most beloved, and everything in-between spots in Houston.
Sick of visiting the same old spots? Want to try out a new place? Afraid of wasting money and your palate on a mediocre meal?
Let The Coffey Break do the leg work for you!
Stay hungry my friends -Andrea
Review Date: Saturday July 21, 2012
Review Location: Sweet Paris Crêperie, 2420 Rice Blvd
Review Time: Brunch
Sweet Paris is as sweet as the name implies. I had high expectations coming in. I lived in Paris for 6 months during college, so I know my way around a crêpe (pronounced kreIp). They hold a special meaning for me, and I fondly remember walking around a Parisian park, enjoying a Nutella crêpe while soaking in the day, or going out at night, and on the way home from dancing, enjoying a egg, ham and cheese crêpe from the vendors near the clubs we would frequent.
My initial reaction walking in was shock. Sweet Paris is tucked in between Rice Village shops. You might walk or drive by without noticing it. But once you know where to look, it is like something plucked out from a travel magazine. Doesn’t really go with its surroundings, but that’s part of its charm. The fact that they made an ordinary corner into something so special.
Their website describes the décor as “industrial chic”. The walls are white with teal and wrought iron accents, and the most creative industrial pieces I have ever seen. The chandeliers themselves are a thing of beauty. It is simple but intricate décor, reminiscent of my lovely Paris. Sitting with friends enjoying my crêpe at Sweet Paris, I couldn’t help but think back of quiet lunches in the rooftop restaurant of Galleries Lafayette. The music was on-pointe, techno-parisian beats that complemented the ambiance.
(Picture courtesy of Sweet Paris website)
Even the waiters, wearing the stereotypical French berets (and not looking the least bit silly), seemed to fit in quite nicely to the overall look. I was also happy to find many families enjoying brunch with little kids. You know children don’t play around with food, if they don’t like it they don’t eat it. All the kids I saw were happily and enthusiastically eating!
My friends and I ordered 3 savory or salty crêpes, the Houstonian (mozzarella cheese, bacon, sausage, potatoes, two scrambled eggs and fresh jalapenos), the Croque Madame (two scrambled eggs, gruyere cheese, smoked ham & béchamel sauce), and the Feast (two scrambled eggs, feta, ricotta, & mozzarella, tomatoes, spinach & mushrooms); along with 2 sweet crêpes, the Smore (nutella, torched marshmallows, graham crackers & semi-sweet chocolate) and the Lemon and Sugar (fresh lemon, whipped butter, & vanilla bean sugar) crêpes. Each crêpe was special in its own taste. But my favorite by far was the Houstonian. The potatoes and sausage exceeded my expectations. Each flavor was complimentary, the potatoes perfectly seasoned, the sausage slightly spicy with a kick, the cheese expertly melted, all incased in a warm and thin encasement. All in all, a breakfast party in your mouth. No salsa or extra salt or pepper needed here!
The Croque Madame also held its own to come in a close second. I was a little concerned at its simplicity, afterall it’s just egg, ham, and cheese. And I was concerned it would be flooded in béchamel sauce, but that was not the case. It had just the right amount, adding to the taste without making it soggy or overwhelming. The sauce is what made the crêpe, adding a special flavor that is hard to find. Salty but a bit tangy and sweet at the same time. Béchamel sauce is the white sauce you might find in lasagna. The French are very particular about their sauces (de la sauce!) and they were not let down.
(Lemon & Sugar, Houstonian, Feast, and Croque Madame)
The sweet crêpes were something special as well. The Lemon & Sugar used to be a Paris favorite of mine. Special in its simplicity. This one took me back toParis, as I had not had one since my last trip a couple of years ago. The ones you buy off the street don’t typically have butter, but it added so much to the taste. It was like a lemon cake batter, without the thickness and heaviness it brings. I am a sucker for sweet and salty, and this one brought just the right amount of each.
I have to admit I was a little disappointed when my friends ordered the Smore crêpe. I thought it might be a bit of an abomination, the smore is an American dessert, and does not belong in a crêpe! However, when I tried it I could not be more wrong. It was such a pleasant surprise! They torch the marshmallows inside the crepe, so you can taste the burned encasing of the marshmallow, along with the bits of graham cracker smashed up like sprinkles. And next time I ever try to make a smore, I am using nutella. Sorry Hershey’s!
The Lemon & Sugar was also not as overwhelming as the Smore crêpe, with all its chocolate and marshmallows; you did not need a glass of water within reach for this one. It was a quiet happy, the perfect ending to the meal, and best final taste in your mouth.
If I had one qualm it was the thickness of the crêpes. To my preference they need to be so thin to the point of almost crispiness, and these were a little thicker than I would have liked. But for American standards, they were some of the best I’ve had here.
After our meal we walked up to the ordering area and observed the chef. It was like a well-oiled machine, no wonder our crêpes came out so fast. You can also tell they are passionate about the taste and what they do, Al was so happy to talk to us about his preferences and experiences.
The only other thing I was disappointed about was that the savory crêpes I saw him make were premade; he was reheating it instead of making them fresh. I did see them make fresh ones for the sweet ones, however.
The joy of a good meal that exceeds your expectations! I am looking forward to going back and trying out the rest of the menu. I definitely walked out doing my happy dance, it was such a nice start to the weekend! I highly recommend.
A special thanks to Rhea Racho and Scott Delgado for sharing!
**Special Note: Sweet Paris donates one school meal to a child in need through the World Food Program USA for every crepe purchased. Nothing like dining at a place with a social cause!
Overall Rating: A
Taste: B+ (If only the Feast had been savory!)
Location: B+ (parking and traffic…)
Prices: B (worth the price but you need a good $15-$20 to have the meal of your dreams)