What's Cookin' Behind the Curtain - The Crepe Escape
After a five-week hiatus, LAist is back to taking you on its weekly trip down to Orange County to uncover the unique dining experiences that await adventurous eaters willing to explore beyond the county line.
I’ve always had a certain fascination with crepes. Not sure exactly why, perhaps it’s the simple elegance that a crepe has, its delicate buckwheat consistency and taste that can be deliciously served with virtually any kind of filling, whether sweet or savory. All I know is that when I pass a crepe stand or shop, I almost immediately get suckered into buying one, kinda like that dreaded hot dog and onion stand outside of ball games.
La Galette Creperie in San Clemente not only serves delectable crepes, but gives you the added bonus of being a wonderful little sidewalk cafe (which if you’ve read my other reviews, you know I’m a big fan of). It’s situated immediately adjacent to San Clemente Pier, so you can sit out in front and sip your coffee while watching surfers come in from their morning runs and people walking their dogs. It also has about ten tables of inside seating.
The restaurant is essentially a breakfast/lunch spot. The menu primarily consists of crepes, divided between sweet and savory, although different types of egg scrambles are also offered. However, unlike a crepe stand, La Galette Creperie uses fresh, gourmet ingredients to create tantalizing combinations. For example, on the savory side, fillings include ham, swiss cheese, and béchamel sauce (Croque Monsieur); smoked salmon with crème fraiche and red onion (Sunday Brunch); and chicken with apples, gorgonzola cheese, and hazelnut dressing (Chicken Fuji). The sweet side of the menu has favorites like Nutella and Dulce de Leche, but also inventive treats like the Campfire (chocolate, marshmallow cream, and crumbled graham crackers) and Strawberry Shortcake (homemade shortcake, strawberries, and vanilla sauce).
When I made my trip, I was a little overwhelmed with all of the options. I settled on the Chicken Apple Sausage Scramble crepe, which was filled with the sausage, as well as scrambled eggs, rosemary potatoes, sautéed onions, and Monterey Jack cheese, and topped with a white sauce. The filling was pretty generous so that it felt like I was getting a scramble that just happened to be surrounded by a crepe, as opposed to being predominately crepe without much on the inside. The eggs were light and fluffy, while the sausage added plenty of flavor but not a lot of density. On the flip side, the sauce added an appropriate level of richness with the cheese, giving the dish a nice balance: robust and filling, but not too heavy.
In fact, it was light enough that I couldn’t resist ordering up a second crepe, this time a dessert crepe to cleanse the palate. My server had already brought out the check, but I figured I had nowhere to be and more room in my stomach to eat. And I wasn’t disappointed. I opted for the Berries and Cream crepe, a slightly less sweet option so I could justify to myself that I ate fruit with the meal. It was a relatively simple crepe, full of fresh strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries alongside a healthy portion of whipped cream. It was an amazing example of how good food can be when you just let the natural flavors speak for themselves, rather than needlessly complicating a dish by introducing more complex ingredients. The sweetness and slight tartness of the berries, mixed with the cream and the texture of the crepe was spot on.
The food alone makes La Galette Creperie worth a visit, but it’s the idyllic setting that makes it truly memorable. San Clemente is known for being roughly equidistant between Los Angeles and San Diego, which means it’s way out of the way for most people. But it’s also known as one of the last true beach communities in Southern California, personified by laid-back lifestyles and the absence of significant commercial development. Each of the beaches is semi-secluded, allowing for small shops and fewer visitors. As such, soaking in the sea breeze while chowing down on some great crepes truly gives one a feeling of escape. If only life could always be this simple.
La Galette Creperie
612 Ave. Victoria, Suite E
San Clemente, CA 92672
Photos from La Galette Creperie's website, since my camera crapped out on me