CREPE lovers rejoice. Meld’s French-born reporter, Olivia Merlen, has scoured Melbourne to bring you the tastiest, most authentic creperies in town – plus a family recipe for you to try at home.
France is infamous for the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, its romance and, of course, its crepes.
The crepe and its savoury equivalent, the galette, are a specialty from Brittany in the Northwest region of the country. The French like to eat the thin pancakes for the chandeleur, a Catholic holiday celebrated on February 2. But most people enjoy them throughout the year, especially on a lazy Sunday night.
In Australia, we tend to assume crepes are filled with sweet things like chocolate and lemon with sugar. But in actual fact, they are just as delicious served up with a savoury twist of ham, gruyere cheese or mushrooms.
So if you’re itching for a little slice of France sans the expensive plane trip, below are a few Melbourne creperies worth checking out. Or read on for a crepe recipe that’s so simple, you’ll be whipping up batches of the stuff in no time.
Creperie Le Triskel, 32 Hardware Lane
Named after a Celtic symbol, Le Triskel is situated on a narrow lane, filled with restaurants and cafes, that could easily belong to any European city. At the cafe, you’ll be greeted by the perhaps cliche sight of a beret-wearing accordion player, belting out the music of Edith Piaf and Amélie Poulain with a French accent. But the French, apparently, take no offence. Le Triskel has been attracting members of Melbourne’s French community since 2008, when Michael Gatta-Castel and Patrizia Maselli opened the business.
The must-try item on the menu is the galette complete, traditionally filled with ham, grated cheese and an egg. And if you can afford it, grab a glass of aniseed-flavoured Ricard liquor, straight from the south of France.
But for those brave enough to place an order in French, a board inside gives you some tips on how to do it. Repeat after me: “Bonjour, je voudrais une crêpe au chocolat et un orangina” – that is, if you would like a chocolate crepe with a glass of orange soda.
La Petite Crêperie, Corner of Little Collins and Swanston Street
A few months ago, the owners of Le Triskel transformed a newspaper kiosk on Swanston St into what is now La Petite Creperie. The joy of buying a crepe while taking a stroll or shopping is so French, it reminds me of days spent visiting the crepe stalls in the markets and bustling streets of Brittany.
La Petite Creperie is Melbourne’s most affordable crepes destination and it has all the classics too – chocolate, chestnut purée and lemon and sugar. Not to be missed is the homemade salted caramel crepe, recommended by friendly staff member Fabio.
Roule Galette, 241 Scott Alley, Flinders La
Hidden in a quiet alley off Flinders La, this amazing crêperie is owned by French native Michel Dubois. Dubois wanted to create a traditional, family-friendly atmosphere, so he asked his daughter to name the restaurant. Only six-years-old at the time, the little girl chose the name of one of her favourite books – the French equivalent of the Gingerbread Man.
Originally from Brittany, Michel has been making crepes since he was 10 and says he remembers when his father would make forestières for the whole family. Forestières are made with béchamel, bacon, fresh mushrooms and cheese and is one of Roule Galette’s most popular menu items.
For Michel, the key to a good crepe is good produce – and his own personal taste.
“There is not a product in the menu that is not in my fridge,” he says.
“I eat what I serve to my customers every day, so I know it’s good.”
French natives will also be glad to find the cheeses they’ve been craving from home at this creperie – the bleu d’Auvergne, Morbier of the Jura Region and the classic Emmental.
Fun fact: Michel’s sweet crepes are named after particularly beloved and memorable staff members. He recommends the Lucie, with braised apple, ice cream and slivered almonds. The crepe Suzette is also a classic, flambéd with Grand Marnier.
“It the real traditional recipe and people love it,” Michel says.
Roule Galette has recently opened a second store on at 26 Rebecca Walk, the perfect spot for a walk along the Yarra River, crepe or galette in hand.
Crepes are so easy to make, they’re perfect for beginner chefs or those days when you just can’t be bothered cooking anything very fancy.
This recipe comes all the way from Brittany:
La galette Bretonne complete
For 4-6 people
For the crepe batter:
- 500g buckwheat flour (you’ll find it in the organic section of most good supermarkets)
- 1 egg
- Approximately 70ml water
- Grated cheese
- Ham/grilled sausage
Put the flour in a bowl with a pinch of salt. If you find buckwheat flour has too strong a taste, replace 80 grams with wheat flour.
Make a hole in the centre of the flour-salt mixture before cracking in the egg. Add the water gradually, mixing until you get the right consistency – that of thin cream. You might not need all the water.
Then, heat a teaspoon of butter in a pan. Pour in enough batter to thinly coat the bottom of the pan, swirling to make sure the batter is evenly distributed. After a minute or so, flip the pancake. Wait 30 seconds then add the toppings, fold the sides over and cook until the cheese has melted.
Enjoy with a glass of cider, or apple juice.
What’s the best creperie you’ve visited in Melbourne?