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Dining Out: A French café that is a crêpe above

March 13, 2014|By Lisa Dupuy
  • Chef Aurelien (Tony) Mosconi holds a La Chicken Manchego Salad with spinach, grilled chicken, imported Manchego cheese, red onions, cranberries, sundried tomatoes, asparagus, homemade raspberry vinaigrette at Monsieur Crêpe in Sierra Madre on Friday, March 7, 2014.
Chef Aurelien (Tony) Mosconi holds a La Chicken Manchego… (Tim Berger / Staff…)

In the charming village of Sierra Madre, a new French cafe has popped up with an atmosphere as fresh as the food they serve. Monsieur Crêpe is a light-filled space with easy counter service, making it a top choice for local workers, shoppers and residents wanting a place to read the paper or chat over coffee. Monsieur Crêpe offers sweet or savory crêpes, nutritious salads and unique sandwiches with a West Coast flair. West coast of France as well as America.

Owner Aurelien (Tony) Mosconi is from Paris but his crêpes are made in the French Brittany style. As such, I figured the La Normande ($11.95) would be a good choice. I must admit I was a tad disappointed at first. I expected something like what I'd had on the streets of Paris, a piping hot triangle of melted cheese and French ham wrapped in a thin splotchy brown pancake handed to me in a paper sleeve. If not that, I thought it might be like my mother's rolled and baked crêpes covered in a mushroom-Marsala sauce. What was presented to me was an artistic square of lightly cooked crêpe, shaved French ham peeking out of the center, a dollop of creme fraiche on the side. Bite one surprised me with its interior of room temperature brie and sliced apple. Bite two had me exploring the complex flavor of imported ham and caramelized onion. By bite three I was a convert. These were not just any old ingredients thrown inside. They were planned and arranged for the greatest chemistry.

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This same chemistry exists in other dishes too. Seemingly incongruous combinations magically work together. The La Savoyarde crêpe($12.95), for instance, features baked potato, aged prosciutto, gutsy Swiss cheese and spinach, rendering a heady, satisfying meal. The savory crêpes are normally made with whole wheat flour but the optional (gluten-free) buckwheat flour would be good on the Savoyarde. The sweet crêpe La Suzette ($7.95) is close to the original Crêpe Suzette recipe but with the chef's own flair. Julia Child would have us dip the orange- and brandy-engorged pancakes in a flame, setting them afire. Mosconi's are lighter, more Californian with a thin, aromatic marmalade sauce and homemade Chantilly (whipped cream) with strawberries and mandarins.

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