Culture & Criticism From the Far Distant Realms
It’s hard to believe that Crepe O Chocolat founder Sylvie Krawec was once an analyst in the insurance industry. Bluntly, restaurateurs this good and this creative usually don’t begin in that staid arena.
However, Krawec is anything but ordinary.
Krawec was born in Madagascar and reared in France, where she was exposed to some of the finest foods in the world. In turn, she took the vast knowledge of flavor and texture she acquired and put it to work in a non-traditional way – building recipes and creating dishes from within, putting in motion a vision that speaks to making food that not only excites the palate but is also relatively healthful to consume.
As I said, she’s anything but ordinary.
Krawec came to the United States in 1992, and worked for a decade in the insurance business. And then, in 2002, she fell in love with the idea of owning and operating a restaurant and gave birth to Crepe O Chocolat.
On the fringes of the famed Union Square district of downtown San Francisco, Crepe is a café in the grand tradition of those lost French parlors half a world away. Simply, this place hums with flavor, with some treat to fit any taste-pattern.
First off, the coffee is incredible: Rich and brewed dark, this coffee is about a flavor explosion; with the house blend priced at a dollar, it’s the budget break of the decade in the city. Also noteworthy among the beverage menu is the hot chocolate, which blends high quality chocolate with milk in order to create a rich and layered coco drink that fills as it addicts – bringing one of the best childhood-memories back to life.
Crepe offers a full menu for breakfast and lunch and light dinners – and for a small café, the choices are astounding. Of course, no review could ignore the crepes: Prepared with delicate precision, these little sheaths of pastry-dough are filled with an array of ingredients like turkey and Italian ham and then served beside a salad – mirrors of flavors assaulting the appetite with non-stop sensations. Crepes are hard to make and even harder to master, and Krawec’s warrant attention for their consistency and texture – each made to accentuate the fillings instead of detract from them by falling apart or falling victim to a thick and rubbery aftertaste.
In addition, Krawec’s quiche offers a maze of flavor as well: Wedges of vegetable and egg and cheese melt together in an artful ensemble as diners are encouraged to discover that it is indeed possible to be satisfied without being over-stuffed by fatty meats and extra cheese (in fact, Krawec uses less sugar, flour and artificial ingredients in all her dishes in order to let the natural flavor of her food excel).
Also notable are Krawec’s homemade truffles: The coffee and hazelnut candies beckon repeat purchases, as these perfectly honed candies satisfy the sweet-tooth without being excessively syrupy or sticky. Try one with a latte or a shot of espresso and all that talk of the legendary food of San Francisco becomes reality. Yes, this candy is that good.
In a town full of over-priced coffee and pretentious atmosphere, Crepe O Chocolat is a real find: Here, Sylvie Krawec has created a wonderful respite from the bustle of life in the city. In an area where Starbucks abound, Crepe O Chocolat blooms like a rare flower with a thousand surprises that keep calling us back.
ALSO TRY: One of the many homemade cookies or perhaps the oatmeal cake – this hearty breakfast choice brings the satisfaction of a muffin without the extra sugar and needless calories.