Jay Silverston is a fixture behind the register at Paris Creperie, taking orders and doling out deadpan quips in equal measure. Not catching a customer's name, he asks her to repeat it.
"Kyle or Clark?" Jay asks. It's Kyle. "Are you sure?" he inquires, straightfaced.
Behind this comedic welcome is the assembly line, where a few crepe makers work perhaps half a dozen broad circular griddles. A ladleful of dun-colored batter slurps onto the first griddle, cooking and setting as it's teased into a perfect circle. Then it's peeled from the griddle and slapped onto another, a blank canvas to receive its fillings--perhaps a cloak of gently-melting cheese, or thin pink layers of ham. The final step is folding layer upon layer of thin, light crepe upon itself, a tri-cornered pocket of dough and filling that demands to be eaten hot the moment it hits the plate.
A plain crepe allows complete freedom over its tasty contents, everything from Gruyere to broccoli to duck meat, but the pre-chosen combinations are winners. Provence-style crepes infuse an herb or spice into the batter, like a cinnamon-spiked batter wrapped around thin slices of barely-cooked apples and pears, dotted with just a bit of pungent, salted Brie. A smoked salmon crepe with scallions worked into the batter harmonizes accents of smooth cream cheese with the salty bite of capers.
Omelette crepes, each made with two eggs, are perfect for breakfast; I loved an omelette crepe with cheddar and rosemary-scented sausage. A French toast crepe offered a thin layer of egg just inside the dough, blueberries, and a drizzle of syrup. New creations emerge from the "test kitchen" every so often, like a Ratatouille crepe, or the achingly sweet caramel pumpkin pie crepe, finished off with a superfluous cloud of whipped cream.
Don't let me overlook the smoothies, either, which won the Brookline Patch's Best Smoothie of Brookline award hands-down. They're bursting with juicy fruits and berries, in tempting combinations like mango juice-strawberry-peach-pineapple sorbet, or orange juice-peach-banana-honey.
But my favorite is the Nutella hot chocolate smoothie, a decadent cup of frozen hazelnut cocoa, verging on too-sweet, but irresistible. Nutella was born a child of WWII rationing, when cocoa was in short supply and one brilliant pastry-maker used hazelnuts to stretch his stores further. It makes its way into a number of the Creperie's drinks, like rich Nutella lattes and hot chocolate.
Luckily, a Paris Creperie food truck begins its laps around the city this spring. The crepes, folded and wrapped in paper, lend themselves perfectly to the food truck format. Here's hoping that the Nutella hot chocolate does, too.
Paris Creperie is open Sunday through Thursday, 8am-10pm; Friday and Saturday, 8am-11pm. 278 Harvard Street, Brookline. MBTA: Green Line (C) to Coolidge Corner.