Creperie La Brehandaise
Crêperie La Bréhandaise initially had me a little apprehensive and skeptical. After a year studying in France, I learned little from the French curriculum, but returned a master at whipping up batches of delicate, paper-thin crêpes from scratch. Being such an easy to make, affordable treat that never ceases to impress guests (especially when Nutella is involved), I seldom go out for crêpes. After all, it seems that anything remotely French in this city charges a hefty premium and why go out to pay for something I can easily make at home?
My doubts are cast aside upon walking into La Bréhandaise. It's like stepping into a French grandma's dainty little country cottage, and on West Queen West no less! Soft pastel blues and baby yellows give the interior a serene glow. It is refreshing to be in a French restaurant without a single Eiffel tower, Toulouse-Lautrec poster nor Edith Piaf's "La Vie en Rose" blaring from the loudspeakers.
At La Bréhandaise, it is an homage to beloved Brittany. From hanging fishnets, barn doors, to the rustic wooden furnishings and an adorable antique tea trolley, everything evokes the simple French country life. The charming environment is mimicked outside on their discreet garden patio. On a sun-drenched afternoon, we relish in the tranquility and unwind over a light lunch.
At $12.95, the weekday lunch set gives you the option of a soup and savoury galette, or a galette with dessert crêpe pairing. The carrot soup is a thick, creamy purée and a single sprig of parsley plucked from the hanging herb garden, with a side of toasty croutons. Heavy in cream and butter, the delicate carrot aroma is sadly overshadowed in this otherwise promising soup.
The Bréhandaise galette is accompanied by heaps of tomatoey ratatouille and seasoned chicken thigh niblets. Sides also include both potato and green salad, which are dressed in a mild dijon vinaigrette. The dark, buckwheat galette seems to have little in common with the common crêpe. Although it's equally paper thin, my galette has got more of a bite to it, is less crispy, and a befitting match to the savoury toppings.
I splurge on a cider from Quebec ($9), which I am told is a popular drink to compliment galettes in Brittany. Arriving in a traditional ceramic bolée cup, the cider is a bit too sweet for my liking, but goes down well on a hot summer day.
Crêpe Vannes ($9) is a technicolour dessert dream when paired with a cappuccino ($3). Drizzled in a spiral of strawberry coulis, sprinkled with fruit, a cloud of freshly made chantilly (whipped cream) and velvety vanilla ice cream, it's a party on a plate! Eyes aglow, Stephen is giddy like a schoolboy and overjoyed.
It's easy to replicate dishes at home, but dining out is also about ambiance and the added dimension of escapism. While hipster hangouts continue to flood into West Queen West, it's nice to find a retreat from the "scene" on a peaceful patio seemingly miles away from the bustling city.
Photos by Stephen Chung.