Walk under the blue awning and into the open doors of Caroline’s Crêperie and you’ll feel as if you’re walking into Caroline’s very own French home. With the warm, helpful service and Caroline herself standing at the helm making crêpes and welcoming clients into her buzzing restaurant, you can’t help but be charmed by this new restaurant on New Canaan's Elm Street.
With a large variety of both savory and sweet crêpes, quiches, salads and freshly baked sweets, New Canaanites and visitors alike have been flocking to this new staple in New Canaan. At any hour of the day, the crêperie whirs with the contentment of happy customers: ladies lunching, kids enjoying an after school treat, slyly licking the remaining nutella off their forks and out-of-town couples enjoying a light lunch before heading to the Glass House.
The idea to open the crêperie came from owner Caroline Kaplan, originally from the region of Bordeaux, in southwest France, who was always making crêpes for friends and family at her house.
“I grew up in France, and we grew up on crêpes like you grew up on pancakes,” Kaplan said. “It’s something that everybody knows how to make and everybody has their own special recipe.”
Although she declined to share her secret family recipe for crêpes, she did say that everything on the menu is made from scratch. “It was the only way I was going to open this place,” Kaplan said.
One of her partners, Deda Sandor, makes all the soups, quiches and baked goods, while Kaplan mans the crêpières, the two round hot griddles where Kaplan carefully pours the crêpe batter and smoothes it into a feathery light layer, carefully flipping it until it achieves a perfectly golden color.
Some of the most popular items on the menu have been the banana and nutella crêpe, the brie, pear and bacon crêpe and the Croque Monsieurs and Croque Madames. But Kaplan said her personal favorite was the sweet crêpe with chestnut cream, a very typical French crêpe.
From the savory side of the menu, their crêpe featuring slices of brie, bacon, pear plus some salad greens is one of their best sellers. This combination made for a very nice lunch but would benefit from a brie with a little more pungency to better complement the saltiness of the bacon and the sweetness of the pear. Caroline mentioned that they are considering alternatives to increase the deep, natural flavors inherent in the brie and these changes should be evident in the next few weeks.
On a subsequent visit I ordered a large bowl of the Beef Barley soup. I was curious when I saw that the listing on the chalkboard stated “Beef Barley w Filet Mignon.” The soup was served in a very large bowl, an ample size for lunch with a few slices of Caroline’s bread. The flavors are enhanced by the addition of potatoes, yams and turnips, plus fresh herbs; the barley was perfectly cooked. After a few spoonfuls, my curiosity was rewarded with my first bite of the filet, which added both a wonderful texture as well as light, mild flavor. The use of the filet was a great choice for this soup.
You can't leave a French bistro without sampling the Croque Monsieur, a traditional French bistro sandwich that includes thinly sliced ham encased within bread and covered with a lovely and crusted béchamel sauce. Caroline’s Croque Monsieur was perfectly cooked and the béchamel sauce was light and flavorful. A lesser amount of béchamel would better complement the mild flavor of the ham, and Emma also mentioned that they are still experimenting with the quantities of the ham and béchamel sauce to better balance the flavors of these two ingredients. On a subsequent visit the sandwich contained two slices of ham, which created a much better sandwich and one I truly enjoyed.
From the sweeter side of the menu, I sampled a creation including bananas, chocolate sauce, vanilla ice cream and whipped cream. This crepe was the highlight of my visits. I am a big fan of bananas and chocolate and in combination with the flavor and texture of the crepe and ice cream created a delicious sweet treat. For anyone who loves the combination of chocolate and bananas this is a must-order.
So after its first month Caroline and Emma continue to modify the ingredients, as well as the recipes to present the best flavors in each of their offerings. I look forward to my return and sample some of their other offerings
While Kaplan and her two partners, Sandor and Emma Villavicencio, are exhausted by the unexpected popularity of their new restaurant, they say they are still having fun. “I knew it was going to be popular, but I didn’t know it was going to be that popular,” Kaplan said.
By next month, Kaplan hopes to be open on Sundays and by the spring, she hopes to be able to stay open in the evenings.
Caroline’s Creperie 155 Elm Street New Canaan
Hours: 10-5 Tuesday through Saturday