2007-05-30 / Restaurant of the Week

AUTHENTIC FRENCH CREPES AT CAFÉ TRISKELL

33-04 36th Avenue Long Island City 718.472.0612
by Teresa Barile

Owner/Chef Philippe Fallait Owner/Chef Philippe Fallait An authentic French crepe awaits you at Café Triskell, a tiny slice of Brittany on 36th Avenue.

Brittany, (Bretagne in French) in the northwest corner of France, is the home of the traditional crepe. Owner and Chef Philippe Fallait welcomes you to visit his petite eatery, painted in sunny yellow and tangerine, and try a classic crepe from his home country. Not only is Philippe very charming, he is also a highly skilled pastry chef who has lived in New York for the past 16 years, working as executive pastry chef in some of the city's finest restaurants.

The menu at Café Triskell features more than two dozen varieties of crepes, both sweet and savory, making this a fine place for a late breakfast or brunch, lunch, dinner, or dessert. In addition to crepes, there are wonderful soups, salads and sandwiches to choose among, offering something for everyone, and all at very affordable prices.


        
        
          
        
          We began our dinner with a bowl of freshly made asparagus and pea soup which exuded the fresh flavors of these vibrant spring vegetables. Classic French onion soup is always on the menu and served bubbling with melted cheese and croutons ($5.75). The house salad offers plenty of mixed greens and tomatoes to share, with a lovely Dijon vinaigrette dressing. The Chicken Caesar salad is substantial enough for a meal, or ideal for sharing as a first course ($7.95).

With more than a dozen savory crepes to choose from, I finally decided on one of the most popular. The "Broceliande" is filled with chunks of chicken, freshly grilled vegetables, including eggplant, zucchini and sweet caramelized onions, and a few dabs of creamy goat cheese. I could barely finish the generous portion of vegetables, and at a mere $8.95, this is the most expensive crepe on the menu. My companion devoured a "Benodet" made with freshly sautéed mushrooms, Swiss cheese and herb butter which was simply divine. Other savory choices include smoked turkey with Swiss cheese and red onion relish, or the "Cancale" with smoked salmon, fresh dill, red onion and capers and a touch of créme fraiche. There are plenty of vegetarian choices such as goat cheese and herbs, tomato, mushroom, caramelized onion or just cheese. Don't be surprised to see that your crepe has not been folded. Philippe explained that traditional crepes from Brittany are left open, with the tempting ingredients on top. For his savory crepes, Chef Philippe uses special buckwheat flour which adds a nice texture that holds up to the substantial ingredients in these lunch or dinner crepes.


        
        
          
        
          For dessert, or just to satisfy your sweet tooth, Café Triskell's sweet crepes are perfect any time. The Café is open from 11am to 10pm, just in time for a late breakfast or weekend brunch to a late evening snack or intimate date. Sweet crepes are delicate and tender and can be as simple as the traditional butter and sugar crepe, which Chef Philippe cooks till crisp and brown to bring out all the wonderful flavor of the crepe itself ($3.95). Classic crepe suzettes are filled with orange, honey butter and orange zest for a sweet treat. Fresh strawberries are in season now and sit under a cloud of whipped cream, while bananas get a drizzle of warm chocolate sauce in another crepe. Perhaps the most elaborate crepe is the "Glenans" with poached pears, house made chocolate sauce, toasted almonds and whipped cream ($5.95). With so many tempting choices, I plan on making several return trips to Café Triskell.

Real men do eat quiche and you'll find savory quiche Lorraine, with ham, Gruyere cheese and a flaky crust here, as well as the Provencal quiche with roasted vegetables, tomato and goat cheese. Hearty sandwiches round out the menu, including the "Croque Monsieur", a classic bistro sandwich, grilled with ham and cheese ($5.95).

Soft drinks, juices, tea, cappuccino and espresso are available for now. I loved the refreshing passion iced tea, served with chilled simple syrup to sweeten to taste. Café Triskell is open six days a week from 11am to 10pm (closed Mondays). For a late breakfast or brunch, lunch, dinner, or late snack, the traditional crepes, sandwiches, soups and salads at Café Triskell are perfect for light dining on a budget. If you can't get to France, go to Café Triskell for authentic French crepes from their birthplace. Bring a friend or two for a most enjoyable dining experience. Au revoir!

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