Worth the Drive: Crepes, crepes and more crepes!
By Jennifer Kornegay
There are several food and restaurant types common across Alabama: places like meat ‘n threes, BBQ joints and catfish houses. But in Auburn, tucked behind Blooming Colors garden nursery is The Market (selling fresh, local produce), and tucked behind that is The Crepe Myrtle Café. And in this small café, they specialize in one thing: crepes. In fact, almost the entire menu is devoted to this sophisticated substitute for a sandwich.
Crepes? And only crepes? It may sound a little risky to have such a narrow focus. And crepes are certainly not a Southern staple. I can hear my dad’s booming bass voice declaring (jokingly), “Real men don’t eat quiche!” I imagine whoever coined that phrase (which he loved to repeat any time my mom served quiche) would feel the same way about crepes.
But a single bite of these singular creations is all it will take to make you a believer (even if you are the manliest of men), and bring you back time and again so you can try every single version of crepe that the café makes. They may serve crepes almost exclusively, but there are many, many different types of crepes. Or more accurately, there are many, many different ways to fill the basic crepe.
There’s the Caesar with roasted chicken, melted mozzarella, romaine lettuce and tomatoes drizzled with classic Caesar dressing. There’s the Steak and Bleu, a mouth-watering mix of juicy marinated flank steak, roasted peppers, caramelized onions and tangy blue cheese crumbles. Or the Mexican, with citrus marinated chicken, Monterey jack and cheddar cheese, shredded lettuce, sour cream and homemade salsa.
The Tomato Lover and Roasted Veggie crepes take delicious advantage of The Market’s access to amazing area produce; both are stuffed with tomatoes, zucchini, squash, onions, mushrooms, peppers and more, and this ingredient list changes based on the season and what’s at its peak.
Imagine one of the best Greek salads you’ve ever had rolled into a thin, airy crepe, and you’re actually fantasizing about the café’s Greek Chicken Crepe. Briny (kalamata olives), salty (feta), crunchy (raw spinach), hot (pepperoncini peppers) and smoky (roasted red peppers) merge into one fabulous flavor. And while the Tzatziki sauce makes it a messy affair to eat, there’s a napkin dispenser on each table, so you can do it.
Eleven different savory crepes are always available, plus soups and salads and a few “daily special” offerings. But note the word savory in the above sentence. There are still more crepes: A selection of eight dessert crepes makes it hard to resist ending your lunch on a sweet note. Crepe traditionalists will swoon over the Nutella Crepe. With an ooey-gooey smear of the chocolate-hazelnut spread sliding between layers of slightly chewy crepe, this delight rivals the confections peddled from street carts in Paris. The Apple Sizzle challenges your mom’s apple pie. And the Peaches N’ Cream, with its grilled whiskey-soaked peaches, sweetened sour cream, brown sugar and candied pecans, takes the crepe far below the Mason Dixon line.
Even if, for some reason, none of these sound appetizing to you (maybe you were born without taste buds or lost them in a tragic accident), there are other reasons to visit. Blooming Colors is jam-packed with plants and pots and garden accessories. And The Market is a bigger, cuter version of your favorite roadside veggie stand. Rows of wooden crates hold whatever happens to be growing at the moment, shelves are stacked with jars of raw local honey and homemade salsas and sauces, a freezer is full of casseroles to go and a table displays rustic pottery made by an area artist.
Visit The Market for the best bounty from Alabama farmers, ripe and ready to take home. And visit the café for crepes, crepes and more crepes.
The Crepe Myrtle Café at Blooming Colors
Open for breakfast and lunch
1192 Donahue Drive, Auburn