Good Eats: What Crepe? in Royal Oak

July 7, 2009
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Owner Paul Jenkins, Jr. and Manager Lita Taylor.  Cr:  Brandon Edward Miller

Owner Paul Jenkins, Jr. and Manager Lita Taylor. Cr: Brandon Edward Miller

When Café Muse moved out of their cozy space at 317 S. Washington (to a larger, still pleasant spot at 418 S. Washington) we hoped that there wouldn’t be a “FOR LEASE” sign on the door for too long.  We were intrigued when a little sign popped up a few months later– “Coming Soon, What Crepe?”  What?

What Crepe?” Is Paul Jenkin Jr.’s latest venture (he’s also a partner at Ann Arbor’s Black Pearl and Theatro, a nightclub in Chicago) and is his first solo restaurant.  It’s a creperie in Royal Oak primarily featuring sweet and savory crepes.  Opened about a month ago, the small restaurant and it’s eager staff are working hard to impress both in the front of the house (which is managed by Lita Taylor) and in the back of the house where chef Chris Swansky is putting out some beautiful food.  Paul reports that he first met Chris at our favorite sushi place, Noble Fish, where Chris still works as a sushi chef. 

More on What Crepe?, after the jump . . .

What Crepe? Dining Room, CR:  Viet Le

What Crepe? Dining Room, CR: Viet Le

I tried the Monte Cristo (pictured below) on a recent visit.  It came with a small organic salad and the presentation was beautiful – Chris’s knife skills were put to work on a piece of lemon and shined.  The mix between cheese, ham, and raspberry jam is hard to beat – and it’s a good choice if you can’t decide between a sweet chocolate crepe or a savory chicken one.  The menu also features vegan crepes; I didn’t get the chance to try one but Paul claims they’re tasty (and are flavored with vanilla and maple syrup). 

 

The Monte Cristo, Crispies, and French Press Coffee, CR:  Brandon Edward Miller

The Monte Cristo, Crispies, and French Press Coffee, CR: Brandon Edward Miller

I also had a serving of their French press coffee.  If you haven’t tried French press coffee, you should.  It’s bold and rich (and supplied by a Michigan company, Chazzano Coffee) — brewed coffee tastes like weakly flavored hot water in comparison.  Before my order I arrived, I snacked on some “crispies”  and Nutella – the crunchy crepe chips made for a playful appetizer.  And if you’re not in the mood for both a savory crepe and a sweet one, they have some other dessert options including ice cream and berries and a fruit salad. 

 

Chef Chris Swansky of What Crepe?  CR:  Brandon Edward Miller

Chef Chris Swansky of What Crepe? CR: Brandon Edward Miller

What Crepe? has a colorful, warm dining room which seats twenty-two diners as well as an outdoor patio area which seats another six (the patio is ideal for people watching).  On Friday evenings and Saturday afternoons, What Crepe? features live music.  Even the menus are cool – they are made out of old French album covers. 

What Crepe? is open Tuesday (from 5:00-8:00 pm, $1.50 off all crepes in honor of Fat Tuesday) and Wednesdays from 11:30 am to 8:00 pm, Thursday and Friday from 11:30 am to 9:00 pm, Saturdays from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm, and Sundays from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm (closed Mondays).  No smoking (phew!) and no drinking (yet!) They’re working hard to get a liquor license under the bistro plan we wrote about earlier here, hopefully by this fall.  Check out their website here.

Also, check out my related post on Le Petit Zinc in Detroit.  Let us know what you think of What Crepe? below . . . .

This article brought to you by the good folks at Urbane Apartments Royal Oak Michigan, Urbane Apartments Ferndale Michigan,Urbane Apartments Birmingham Michigan, and Urbane Apartments Dearborn Michigan

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  • Brandon

    Btw, that’s Urbane on Washington over Chris’s shoulder — great place for a quick, homemade dinner, right downtown.

  • Jess

    I was wondering when y’all were going to cover this spot. I hope they thrive AND I hope they get that liquor license soon- the dining room is beautiful and a perfect atmosphere for a glass of cabErnet!

  • http://www.midwestguest.com DominiqueKing

    This sounds like a great place to try…something a little different, somewhere supporting other Michigan businesses with local products…and being able to listen to some blues music in a non-smoking environment sounds like a real treat to me!

    Thanks for the review.

  • Brandon

    Jess and Dominique — thanks for the comments. This is my favorite kind of post to do because I think it highlights what is best about Royal Oak — cool places trying out new stuff. How many places in Michigan can you live where you’re two blocks away — walking — to a crepe place with live music. I hope they thrive!

  • Jeff

    I went to What Crepe. Its soooo cool. The food and vibe is so montreal/NYC. For sure a cool date nite spot. Im for sure going when they have the live entertainment.

  • Babs

    Thank God, not another Salon in the downtown area!!!

  • Stacey

    What crepe is so cute inside. I ate there last week with 2 of my girlfriends. The food was So good. I had the applepie and my girlfriends had the mushroom madness and the sweet cheese. All were great. It’s so nice to get good service again too. I think my servers name was Kate and she was so nice and informative. Kudos to what crepe. They will do well.

  • http://www.vimeo.com/sixminutemen Matt Dibble

    I was at Tazi Juice Bar which is behind What Crepe? and I could swear that I saw a couple of chairs with ppl sitting in them in a nice little garden setting out back.
    Did you see/hear anything about that Brandon? It looked really cool, a small 2 table patio with plants and flowers surrounding it.

  • Brandon

    Hey All, thanks for the comments!

    Babs — I think I need to do a post on all of the salons — there’s ANOTHER one in the Fifth.

    Ugg.

    Matt — you did see that. I saw it too. Would be cool to dine by the trains, eh? Unfortunately it’s not available for diners due to, I believe, Royal Oak licensing officials. It’s currently used as a (well-deserved) break area for What Crepe? employees.

  • http://www.whatcrepe.com Paul

    Thanks for all of the cool responses guys!!! I’m Paul the owner of What Crepe and im happy to be so welcomed to Royal Oak. FYI starting next tues July 14th and going forward we are offering to Royal Oak residents and local Employees 10% off bill. (must show proof of residency and/or employment) This discount is valid tues-fridays from 1130a to 230p. My way of saying thanks for supporting us!!!

    Yes the patio in the back is very cool. Sorry as of now it is for our staff to take a break. BUT we are in conversations with the city to build a deck back there which will allow for diners. Keep fingers crossed, it would be perfect for the fall to sit back there and enjoy a glass of wine and a crepe or two !! will keep you posted!

    Stop on in sometime, id Love to meet you guys, ask for me.

    Take care
    Paul

  • http://www.vimeo.com/sixminutemen Matt Dibble

    Good enough… thought it looked like a great little spot to chill.

    Thanks for stopping by, Paul. Come back often, Urbane does a pretty good job of highlighting local places like yours.

  • Brandon

    Paul — thanks for taking the time to visit and comment and for the news about the discount. Will be back in soon for another crepe!

  • Janet

    Nice find! With all of the outdoor dining, Royal Oak is starting to feel a little (okay, very little, but in the age of the “staycation”) like Old Europe.

  • Molly and peter

    Hi guys. I was at what crepe yesterday and spoke to the owner. My wife and I are actually new in town and was asking owner if he knew of any cool places to live in town and he told me about urbane and the blog. I ate at what crepe and I totally felt like I was in Montreal/little Paris. Very nice atmosphere and incredible crepes. We Will go back for sure. And we will check out urbane too. Seems like people on this blog live in urbane love some insight if possible.

  • Kevin

    Yeah, the blog is a good spot to hear about what’s going on. Welcome to town! I’ve only been here a year and have found it to be a great spot. About Urbane — they have some cool buildings downtown (I think 3 in Royal Oak). Nice finishings, good locations, a little more expensive than other places but they do some cool stuff like this blog, green apartments, etc. And it seems like they’re popping up everywhere lately. Love what they did with the building on Washington near the Fifth.

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