The crêpes at Brasserie du Parc aren't crispy. They also aren't overly thick and mushy. Chef and co-owner Philippe Verpiand and chef de cuisine Romain Mauger make sure of that. What they produce in the closet-sized crêpe station inside Verpiand's new restaurant are a French Goldilocks' dream: that just-right middle ground of a thin-but-yielding pancake.
And in truly Parisian style, customers can grab them on the fly, not from a kiosk or cart as in France, but from a window on McKinney Street. At least they'll be able to beginning Monday at 11 a.m., when Brasserie du Parc serves its crêpes at 1440 Lamar Street, just across from Discovery Green at One Park Place.
Crêperie du Parc serves six different savory crêpes, including classic jambon et Gruyère, but also innovations like pork belly with cheese, onions, mushrooms and an egg. The five sweet crêpes range from banana and Nutella to one flambéed tableside with Grand Marnier. Yes, you can order crêpes in the dining room, too, but why would you with as dense a bill of fare as is available the Brasserie?
"When you look at the menu, it's a little more casual, less expensive," says Verpiand, comparing it to his first Houston Étoile Cuisine et Bar. "You see it's a small room, a little cozier, high-paced restaurant."
In effect, a typical brasserie. And it was the 3,000 square-foot space (2,000 less than Étoile) that dictated the direction he went with the restaurant, Verpiand says. Not including the 1,600-square-foot covered patio, which is heated in winter and air conditioned in summer, the two-story restaurant is small and bustling. But with nooks for two-top tables lit with colorful chandeliers, it feels personal, not cramped.
It makes sense that comfort food would be a focus. There are three versions of moules frites, including the Galveston, which also includes Gulf shrimp and crab. Other warming dishes include tartiflette, an Alpine potato-and-cheese casserole; a gratin of coquillette pasta with ham, mushrooms, Gruyère and truffle oil; and Gulf snapper in saffron cream sauce.
The last of those is important: Verpiand says that he's made it a point to focus on Gulf seafood at his new restaurant. Gulf shrimp, for example, appears in both a mixed seafood crêpe and risotto that's also flavored with calamari and red bell pepper stew. He admits, he should have started using local seafood a long time ago. To Verpiand we say, "Better late than never."