Dining Review: Good Crepes? Oui! Vin? Non!

Overton High School graduate Kevin DeMarcus Woodard has returned to the Memphis area after perfecting his crepe-making skills in Manhattan. Woodard's restaurant, Le Crepe du Vin, is at 5788 Stage Road in Bartlett, and offers a wide range of sweet and savory crepes, plus baguette sandwiches and salads. Brian Johnson/Special to The Commercial Appeal)

Overton High School graduate Kevin DeMarcus Woodard has returned to the Memphis area after perfecting his crepe-making skills in Manhattan. Woodard's restaurant, Le Crepe du Vin, is at 5788 Stage Road in Bartlett, and offers a wide range of sweet and savory crepes, plus baguette sandwiches and salads. Brian Johnson/Special to The Commercial Appeal)

Among sweet crepes on Le Crepe du Vin's menu is one called Orleans, made of strawberry, blueberry, whipped cream, raspberry purée and powdered sugar.

Among sweet crepes on Le Crepe du Vin's menu is one called Orleans, made of strawberry, blueberry, whipped cream, raspberry purée and powdered sugar.

Kevin Woodard, a graduate of Overton High School, worked for eight years as a crepe maker at Yorkville Creperie in Manhattan before returning to the Memphis area to open Le Crepe du Vin in September.

Kevin Woodard, a graduate of Overton High School, worked for eight years as a crepe maker at Yorkville Creperie in Manhattan before returning to the Memphis area to open Le Crepe du Vin in September.

Photos by Brian Johnson/Special to The Commercial Appeal
Owner and chef Kevin DeMarcus Woodard greets customers at his restaurant, Le Crepe du Vin, on Stage Road in Bartlett. Le Crepe du Vin offers a wide range of sweet and savory crepes, plus baguette sandwiches and salads.

Photos by Brian Johnson/Special to The Commercial Appeal Owner and chef Kevin DeMarcus Woodard greets customers at his restaurant, Le Crepe du Vin, on Stage Road in Bartlett. Le Crepe du Vin offers a wide range of sweet and savory crepes, plus baguette sandwiches and salads.

Overton High School graduate Kevin DeMarcus Woodard has returned to the Memphis area after perfecting his crepe-making skills in Manhattan. Woodard's restaurant, Le Crepe du Vin, is at 5788 Stage Road in Bartlett, and offers a wide range of sweet and savory crepes, plus baguette sandwiches and salads. Brian Johnson/Special to The Commercial Appeal)

Overton High School graduate Kevin DeMarcus Woodard has returned to the Memphis area after perfecting his crepe-making skills in Manhattan. Woodard's restaurant, Le Crepe du Vin, is at 5788 Stage Road in Bartlett, and offers a wide range of sweet and savory crepes, plus baguette sandwiches and salads. Brian Johnson/Special to The Commercial Appeal)

Le Crepe du Vin serves a fine crepe, but forget that "du vin" part. There is no wine served at the cozy restaurant in Bartlett, and unless owner Kevin Woodard expands to give himself the 40-seat capacity he says he needs for a wine license, there won't be. While there's talk of that and also a location in Midtown down the road, I say this: Go now. If you want wine, take your own. The crepes are great and worth the drive.

The space, on Stage Road just west of the railroad tracks in old Bartlett, is cozy. There are 33 seats, including "bar" seating (which in fact bellies up to the kitchen, not the bar). There are only 20 seats at tables, tiny rounds that accommodate just two plates. For four-tops, two of these tables are put side-by-side.

It's intimate. If you have a party of two, opt for the window seating in front. Lights rimming the inside of the big windows lend a festive touch, and being on the same level with the cook invites pleasant conversation.

Woodard, a graduate of Overton High School, left Memphis after several restaurant stints here. He landed in New York and at Yorkville Creperie, where he worked as a crepe maker for eight years. He returned home and opened Le Crepe du Vin in September.

First, the basics: A crepe is a very thin, unleavened pancake. They're typically rolled around a sweet or savory filling, though sometimes they're served topped instead. At Le Crepe du Vin, the large crepes (they're about 12 inches across) are folded around savory fillings, ends tucked under like an old-fashioned envelope.

We tried several from the menu and a special from the blackboard; all were very good. The Pique-Nique and an unnamed special filled with ham, turkey and cheddar were the best of the savory selections.

The Pique-Nique is filled with turkey, slivers of Granny Smith apple, caramelized onion and Brie. Like all the savory crepes we tried, except the Bonjour, it was topped with an artful and generous squiggle of balsamic glaze that provided a burst of flavor. It was particularly suited to this crepe as it brought together the tart apple, sweet onions and rich cheese.

The crepes are not only large, but also generously filled. For lunch, a friend and I split the Bonjour, made with a fried egg, ham and Swiss cheese, and a dessert crepe. While we both tend to eat on the light side, we had more left over than I expected.

That might not be the case, once you dive in the dessert crepe menu. We tried three over three visits: Cookies and cream, a crepe stuffed with broken Oreos, topped with drizzles of white and dark chocolate, a scoop of ice cream, and whipped cream for garnish. It tastes exactly as you'd expect — a crepe stuffed with Oreos — and for me, that's close to perfect, as I love that cookie.

The bananas Foster crepe was also very good, full of sliced banana and a rich brown sugar sauce, topped with vanilla ice cream. Our favorite, though not without a flaw, was the Oui Oui. (And no, the name is not the flaw.) It's a crepe loosely shaped around a baked apple, like a beggar's purse. The apple is heavily seasoned with cinnamon and baked almost to the texture of chunky applesauce. White chocolate is sparingly drizzled on, graham cracker crumbs add flavor and texture, and sugar-frosted cereal flakes are sprinkled around the sides and over the vanilla ice cream. It's superb, save one thing: An apple cooked so long needs to be peeled first. The skin was simply inedible, both papery and tough, and eventually we took to removing the skin before putting the apple in our mouths.

While the food is very good, Le Crepe du Vin must improve service. We drove to Bartlett on a Tuesday for lunch only to find the restaurant closed when its Facebook page said it would be open. Each visit was filled with some kind of server issue, from whisking away a water glass for a refill and not returning it (during the meal), to being served cold soup (heated by the server), to being charged $14 for a $12 crepe. We ordered the Pique-Nique as a baguette sandwich instead of a crepe, and only when the crepe came to the table were we told that there were no baguettes. Woodard was there on that day, and came to the table to explain that while bread is typically baked in-house, lunch business is slow and he's not baking bread during the day. That everyone is so genuinely friendly and trying hard mitigates this somewhat, but no one wants to be distracted by service issues during a meal.

It's a nice little place, and it's great to see a hometown guy come back to open a business. I hope he's able to make it in his current location, and that if he doesn't, he finds a place to open a creperie where he can also serve wine. Meanwhile, take advantage of the good crepes and take your own vin.

Le Crepe Du vin

Food:

Service:

Atmosphere:

Address: 5788 Stage Road, Bartlett

Telephone: 901-474-7738.

Hours: Tuesday through Thursday, lunch 11 a.m.-1 p.m. (Woodard says he’ll stay open until 2 p.m. if people are there) and dinner, 4:30-9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sunday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Reviewer’s choice: Bonjour ($8); Pique-Nique ($9); blackboard special made with ham, turkey and cheddar ($12); Oui Oui ($11.50); Cookies n Cream ($10).

Alcohol: None; bring your own wine.

Star Ratings

Poor: Zero stars

Good: One star

Very Good: Two stars

Excellent: Three stars

Extraordinary: Four stars

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Comments » 1

BogeyMan2013 writes:

Crepes in NYC: oui, oui;
Crepes in Memphis: non, non.

I didn't care for crepes at the Memphis version of the Magic Pan (Paulette's), and I still don't. Besides which, like quiche, real men don't eat crepes.

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