I thought I had crepes all figured out but apparently couldn’t be more wrong than driving on the right side of the road in the UK. Excuse me while I hit the brakes. Continuing on with the Breton experience, 2 of our meals were destined to be at a creperie, because what I learned is that there were 2 options: the neighborhood creperie and the crêperie gourmande. Crepes, obviously, can get all fine and fancy too. Menus in both establishments have the sweet crepe offerings that most of us are familiar with, but the alternative is the savory breton galette made with buckwheat flour (blé noir in french). In looks they all typically share the same traits — a very thin pancake folded in some way or other with a filling or topping — yet in flavor and presentation they are nothing alike.
Tourisme Bretagne has a lot of great info for planning a stay in the region but the tip to stand out were the particular labels to look for when dining out. A location displaying the Crêperies Gourmandes label ensured that their crêpes and galettes, in terms of quality and service, would be the very best that tradition has to offer. Well now, how best is best? is what I wanted to know so we set upon a comparison quest to find out.
Creperie du Couesnon, 21 rue Couesnon, Pontorson, Basse-Normandie
While not actually in Bretagne proper, it was the nearest available option from our chambre d’hote. This is a no-fuss locale with the monsieur doing the cooking and the madame serving customers. We ordered 4 galettes: one with pear and cheese, topped with toasted sliced almonds; another with thinly sliced andouille; an order of 5 mini galettes, each topped with a different cheese and a salad; and lastly a galette topped with a chopped up scallop mixture. Add a half liter of cider and the total came to 29.10€. Everything was what we would’ve expected from any creperie and so I’d say it all tasted very good.
Not shown above is the unadorned galette with andouille and let me tell you that if you don’t do offal than forget it. A sausage made of pork chitterlings and tripe, it was thinly sliced and not chewy in texture but the flavor is heavy on the tripe. Cidre or cider is the traditional drink of choice and served in cups. This was the first time either of us had tried cider and weren’t impressed, yet this opinion would change later on…
Crêperie Tivabro, 13 place du Marchix, Fougeres
I have to admit that it was very reassuring to see Routard and Gault Millau on the front of the building but I already had a hunch that the food here would not disappoint. The first thing I noticed was the decor – lots of wood, stone walls, warm tones, and an open kitchen where the chef made each galette to order. The second thing noted is that we weren’t expecting the cidre to be naturally effervescent (which should already say how little I know about cider). You can make out the bubbles in the full-size image although most ended up looking like bokeh. This cider was way better than at the previous creperie.
We each ordered a galette to ourselves then split a third. Somewhere along the way I lost my notes, so here goes. Top left: andouille, cheese (both inside) and egg. Top right: potatoes, cheese and tomato concassée with salad. Bottom left: creamy large scallops and creamy leek sauce. Bottom right, super rich dessert crepe: salted butter caramel ice cream, salted butter caramel and chantilly. Fabulous. I don’t think there needs to be any persuasion about the quality when compared to a regular creperie. The rustic-looking galettes at Tivabro had a wholesome, toothier, more authentic flavor. And then there was the dessert crepe. You think you know sweet? This perhaps was too sweet, but that salted butter caramel flavor was over the top. I downloaded a pdf file listing the locations carrying the Crêperies Gourmandes label but neglected to save the source link. If anyone would like the file send me an email.
Dessert fiends, sugar addicts — I have met my match with this salted butter caramel crepe and ice cream. Sweet and a tiny bit salty with the cold of the ice cream against a buttery, warm crepe oozing with sauce. Maybe because I don’t do dessert all that often when eating out in Italy, my tastebuds went into shock with each bite. 3 galette, 1 dessert crepe, half liter plus 1 cup of cider: 41.10€.