Crepes are all the rage, aren’t they? Even within the limited geography of North-ish Baltimore, there’s crepes a la carte at Sofi’s just down the street in Station North, Thursday night crepes just up the street at Bonjour Bakery and Cafe, crepes on wheels at Creperie Breizh, and .
Still, out of all the crepe options, Crepe Du Jour takes the prize in two very special categories: atmosphere and that special ratio I like to call value: what you get compared to the dollars you spend.
Incidentally, the nearly 10-year old restaurant started its life as a mobile food cart in the Village at Cross Keys square, where it was among the first to offer panini in Baltimore. Together, husband-and-wife team Mustapha and Donna Snoussi moved the growing operation to Mt. Washington’s tiny downtown, where they eventually bought a liquor license, purchased the building they were renting, and renovated the restaurant’s space to make room for a new kitchen and an expanded dining room that serves an ever-expanding clientele.
“My customers are very dear to me,” Mustapha Snoussi, proprietor and sometime chef, tells me on a Sunday as he drives to Crepe Du Jour after spending the afternoon with his wife and two kids. “When someone is not happy, it hurts.”
And maybe that’s why his loyal clientele keep coming back. Having weathered the recent recession, Snoussi is still a staple in the small Crepe du Jour dining room. “Eighty percent of the customers come because they know you. I know my customers by name,” he tells me proudly.
Crepe Du Jour is set in traditional French bistro style: long rows of tables nearly on top of one another, bright walls, and lots of paisleys and pom-poms in the décor. You’ll see reproductions of vintage French posters and Cezanne on the walls, and summertime will bring the opportunity for Paris-style outdoor dining right in the heart of village-like Mt. Washington.
The menu is decidedly French, too, of course, so read up on how to pronounce those ç’s: you’ll want to order the savory Crepe Provençal, filled with shrimp, scallops and tomatoes in white wine sauce. I was pleasantly surprised at how well the sweet crepe and salty seafood worked together.
For dessert, I went with the Crepe au Sucre et Citron, or a simple crepe with lemon sugar. It was a perfect end to my meal, but don’t worry—you can be much more creative if you want. There are a dozen or so toppings available for you to make your own personalized sweet crepe experience.
In the end, crepes can either be fast food, or they can be a gourmet, afternoon-filling endeavor accompanied by good friends and frothy cappuccinos. Don’t expect an in-and-out experience here; Snoussi won’t allow it.
“When customers come to my place, it’s all about socializing and talking about life,” he says. “Customers like the style. Small staff, French music, and food that is consistent—it all plays a part.”
1609 Sulgrave Avenue
French, heavy on the crepes but with more mussels dishes and salads coming in Snoussi’s new menu.
Mild to moderate. Dinner entrees will run you into the high $20 range, but lunch crepes can be easily kept around $10.
Parking. Also, service was slow-ish, but my understanding is that this is by design.
The music. It isn’t an afterthought here; it will definitely pop into focus during the course of your meal. This was perfectly delightful for me and my guest.
You’ve got an empty stomach. You’ll want to sample both the savory and the sweet crepes, and that will require plenty of room.
Don't go if:
It’s packed—you’ll be waiting for quite a while for a table at this popular spot during weekend brunch. I recommend a slower hour, although you don’t quite get the full bustling bistro experience.