Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Whoopee for Le Oui Oui

I’m so excited. Denajua, the original queen of Cleveland crepes, is back from Paris and back in business. The new incarnation of Le Oui Oui Crepe Café- there have been two other versions in Ohio City, both long gone - is now in University Circle (11309 Euclid Avenue, 216-231-2800). And that means I can once again enjoy her wonderful savory and sweet French pancakes.

I made my first foray on Monday. The place had been open just three weeks and two days. Had a great catch up chat with Denajua (she’s a one name phenomenon like Madonna or Prince) and sampled a crepe, made from her own scratch batter, that was filled with moist chunks of chicken and sharp chedder cheese set off with a smear of fruity chutney. Every bite was perfect. Next time it’ll be ham and double crème Brie. Or maybe one with chevre, spinach and tomato. She plans to add individual gratinees (quiche but more crème fraiche than eggs) to her menu soon, further complicating my choices. Then there’s dessert to consider- and some more tough decisions- the Nutella crepe (already very popular I hear with CWRU students) or the version made with apricot preserves and sliced almonds.

This is not a real restaurant per se. Orders are placed at the counter. Dishes and utensils are disposable. Much of the food is packed to go. But there are tables and chairs for eating in. The Cafe is part of a mini food court dubbed World Market. Still a work in progress, plans for the space include a sushi stand and a deli. The Galindo family, which runs Luchita Express in an adjoining room, is the landlord. A former costume designer and street performer with a flair for the fabulous, Denajua managed to create a little atmosphere with an old curved wooden bar, a miniature old-timey street lamp, the well-dressed rooster pictured here, and the requisite model of the Eiffel Tower on the wall.

She gave her helper instructions in French and called out Au ‘voir to her customers when they left. Her voice has a distinctive sexy growl, and a timbre that suggests too many Gauloises and late nights. I sat on my stool in the window, taking it all in along with forkfuls of a warm soft buttery crepe, and for a moment Cleveland on the Cuyahoga seemed like a kissing cousin to Paris on the Seine.

Le Oui Oui Crepe Café has no website site yet but there is Facebook page.

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