- Matthew Schniper
- Turmeric turns the Banh Mi Crêpe’s rice flour wrapper a sunny gold.
It feels somehow fitting that Paris Crêpe has taken over the former Montague’s Parlour.
Montague’s was a beloved Springs tea house for two decades under its original ownership (before a sale and closure within two years, shuttering in May 2019). Paris Crêpe has earned its own loyal following after 10 years, providing a similar kind of meeting-friendly, linger-over-a-coffee café atmosphere.
When Paris Crêpe first launched, it was the fourth crêperie in a row to open amidst an unexplained crêpe boom in the Springs. Predictably, some went bust, and Paris Crêpe outlived them all, with a non-purist approach to the favorite French treats — pulling in international flavors and maintaining a gluten-free-friendly menu (now also outwardly vegan friendly). While co-owners Wahid and Stacy Hafsaoui attempted expansion to fine dining with Couture’s Bistro next to their original 218 N. Tejon St. spot in 2014, which later morphed into Café Roma before closing in 2017, it was Paris Crêpe that proved most marketable. The Hafsaouis next expanded to the West Highland area of Denver and then into Manitou Springs.
But in March 2019 they announced the closure of their original spot (citing a kitchen too big for their needs plus a steep rent hike) and a planned move south down Tejon Street to the Casa Mundi apartments. What was supposed to be a few months’ dark time turned into roughly a year, plus a new plan to go even farther south after a friend purchased the former Montague’s, inviting them to instead relocate there. “I was too spread out between the three,” says Wahid, who decided to close Manitou at February’s end this year then the Denver shop shortly after. “I’m back down to one — I just want to focus here.”
Of course next came the COVID-19 pandemic to take the wind out of the grand reopening, though Paris Crêpe kept its doors open throughout. And they brought their design style touches to a slick overhaul of the building. Parisian art hangs on yellow walls across from exposed brick portions and a new mural wall. String lights drape in rows over the dining room half of the space, while snazzy upholstered booths wrap around to the order counter and open kitchen on the other half.
And to the list of classic items they’d be crazy to ever kill — like the always kick-ass Thai beef crêpe with chewy steak, red onion bite, roasted pear sweetness and redundant peanut richness — the Hafsaouis added some new dishes to inaugurate an updated menu, some previously only available in Denver. For instance the clever Banh Mi Crêpe, its rice flour pancake turned Big Bird-yellow by turmeric. Go vegan by picking tofu for protein, or get steak or chicken inside (the latter our choice), wrapped with cabbage, mint, rice vinegar-marinated carrots, cucumbers and daikon slivers mixed with a tangy vegan garlic sauce. With tons of fresh crunch and good char flavor on the chicken, it’s a fine tribute to the popular French/Vietnamese baguette sandwich.
The salmon Benedict crêpe makes for a lavish breakfast (there’s also a pastrami Benedict option), hearty with pink honey-smoked meat plus cream cheese roundness further fortified by yolk bleeding from three fried eggs atop, plus a thin puddle of pale hollandaise sauce — garnishing scallions and cracked black pepper adding sharp counterpoint. Or if dessert for breakfast is your definition of lavish, the longstanding S’mores crêpe awaits with sticky, toasted marshmallow cream filling, a zigzagged drizzle of dark chocolate sauce and thick whipped cream mohawk catching bits of graham cracker crumble.
- Matthew Schniper
- Vegan ice cream stars on the new menu.
For necessary coffee pairing we nab a cappuccino swirled with espresso-stained microfoam that creates a wispy, milky backdrop for a dusting of cinnamon through an Eiffel Tower stencil. My barista thankfully asks me when I order a macchiato if I want the traditional drink (elegantly smaller in proportion and more espresso forward, with little milk — yes ) or the Starbucks drink (no). The café has used Barista Espresso’s dark Sicilian roast since Day One, notes Wahid.
The biggest change to the new Paris Crêpe, though, is a new 11-item, customizable ice cream menu — partly inspired by the fact that the Denver Paris Crêpe had taken over a former custard shop space, equipment intact, then shared the spot with a boba concept called Bambu. The menu starts with two scoops of either chocolate or vanilla ice cream, coconut-milk-based vegan or regular, that Wahid buys through Denver’s higher-end food distribution company Italco. From there it spans topping and house-made sauce options to create choices like the Elvis (Nutella, bananas, bacon and peanuts) and matcha (green tea sauce, sesame praline) to Alice in Wonderland-themed bowls like the Mad Hatter (Earl Grey and lemon curd sauces with shortbread) and one we try vegan, The White Rabbit: the vanilla ice cream texturally true and not alternative-weird, with a lively spiced honey-carrot sauce, sweet cream cheese sauce and shaggy cap of coconut flakes and crumbled walnuts, both toasted.
Wahid says he’s not stopping there with menu tweaks, that we should expect to see a new lamb sausage breakfast crêpe plus the launch of coursed Friday fine dining nights (by reservation only) sometime soon. Add to the front patio that’s already open a remodeling of the rear patio near spacious on-site parking (a rarity for the downtown area), too.
So, following the rabbit holes it’s explored in the last decade, having found its way to what feels like the right home, the refocused and filled out Paris Crêpe appears perched to be the next legacy business on South Tejon Street. They outlived a passing fad to become a local go-to and constant reminder of the simple joy crêpes can bring to mealtime.