Over the past year I’ve written about two restaurants specializing in Japanese dessert crepes. Those experiences got me thinking about how hard it is to find traditional French crepes in Las Vegas — particularly savory crepe dishes. As far as I can remember, during almost a dozen years in Las Vegas, the only restaurant I’ve found specializing in nonsweet French crepes is at Paris hotel-casino. So I went searching off-Strip and found Crepe Expectations in Green Valley. It’s a tiny gem of a restaurant open for breakfast and lunch (it closes at 3 p.m.) that offers a wide variety of crepe dishes to suit any taste.
While crepes are popular throughout Europe, Scandinavia, Japan and North America, the ultra-thin pancakes are believed to have originated in France’s Brittany region. The French version is thinner and less sweet than the Japanese one. In their simplest form, they’re topped with powdered sugar, or flambéed with liquor and sugar to create a crepe Suzette. But they’re also used as a wrapper for various fillings. Sweeter fillings, served as dessert, frequently include fruits, preserves, whipped cream, chocolate and even ice cream, while the potential for savory fillings is limitless.
Crepe Expectations offers nine crepes that seem best suited for lunch ($7.50-$9.50). They include things like The Grand Turk (sautéed turkey and tomato, guacamole, black olives and jack cheese), The Greek (grilled chicken, spinach, feta, tatziki yogurt, kalamata olives, red onions and tomato) and The Little Italy (pepperoni, mozzarella, and tomato-garlic-basil sauce). Their five breakfast choices ($7-$8), available all day, all feature eggs with various breakfast meats and other ingredients. There are also nine sweet options ($6-$8). For your beverage, choose from a small but eclectic selection of beer and wine, mimosas made with your choice of fruit puree, and assorted coffees, teas and juices.
Since savory crepes are harder to find in Las Vegas than sweet ones, I limited my choices at Crepe Expectations to those. All of the portions were large enough to serve as a full meal, particularly since each comes with a side dish. My favorite was a breakfast crepe called The Rosarito. It features scrambled eggs, guacamole, jack cheese and loose, house-made chorizo. That meat is some of the best Spanish-style chorizo I’ve experienced: perfectly seasoned and drained of nearly all grease.
Among the “lunch” dishes, I loved The Sonora and The Del Mar. The former consists of tender, well-seasoned cuts of carne asada, a roasted tomato salsa that packs a nice, refreshing kick, guacamole and jack cheese. The latter is sautéed shrimp and zucchini in a lemon-butter crème fraiche sauce. While the shrimps were a bit on the small side, there were plenty of them and they were delicious.
The only dish I wouldn’t order again was The Pirate, although that’s purely a matter of personal taste. It’s described on the menu as “fancy white albacore tuna, dill pickle, mild pickled jalapenos and Swiss cheese.” When my wife and I asked about it, however, we were informed it was really tuna salad. I find coating tuna in mayo abhorrent, but my wife likes tuna salad when it’s done right. And even I have to admit, this was done pretty damn well, with only a light touch of mayo.
Most of the sides aren’t terribly noteworthy: a simple noodle soup, a bowl of sliced bananas, a serving of cottage cheese. The house salad, however, is worth trying, dressed in a potent blend of olive oil, lime juice and cumin. It’s definitely not for everyone, but it’s pretty original.
The husband-wife team who purchased Crepe Expectations about a year and a half ago both have formal dining backgrounds. Lou Remmilard has worked in country clubs across America, while his wife, Jennifer, was trained at the Johnson & Wales Culinary School and worked in The Hyatt Resort in Hilton Head, South Carolina. That background shows in their dedication to fresh ingredients (the restaurant doesn’t even have a freezer) and their superb technique. But it’s also evident in the small restaurant’s beautiful decor, complete with high-end linens, wine glasses and other touches that you’d never expect in a restaurant where you can’t pay more than $10 for a meal or $8 for a glass of wine. Those aspects, combined with a cuisine you won’t find in many other places, make Crepe Expectations one of the valley’s most unique restaurants.
Crepe Expectations 9500 S. Eastern Ave., 583-4939. Read more about the Las Vegas dining scene on Al Mancini’s blog, www.almancini.net.