Not long after beginning their relationship, Fabrison’s co-owners Fabrice and Alison—from Marseilles, France and Columbus, Ohio, respectively—traveled to Europe together, seeking a change of scenery. Inspired by the warm hospitality of European cafés, they returned home to open their own cozy shop, combining their first names to form its distinctive moniker.
Crepes are the specialty at Fabrison’s, with customers perusing a menu of sweet, savory, and breakfast iterations of the traditional French food. The La Galette combines ham, mushrooms, and spinach with a fried egg, whereas the L’Isabelle keeps its ingredients as simple as Count von Count’s locker combination, mingling sugar, butter, and a topping of powdered sugar. Patrons can begin their mornings with a spot of espresso and Fabrice’s Breakfast Crepe, filled with sausage, bacon, and spicy harissa sauce. Rounding out the menu is a selection of patisserie-style desserts and pastries.
The couple’s friends and family helped them plan their café’s look, with Fabrice’s mother sending over photos and swatches from European cafes, which influenced its bright palette of crimson, gold, and washed turquoise. Alison’s mother sewed the gingham curtains on the windows, and artist Derek Little created the vivid painting on the front window. Fabrison’s also shares French culture with the community through regular evening events that include crepe-cooking classes, French movie nights, French speaking classes, and French kissing workshops.
Hexagone takes its name from France's distinctive six-sided shape, celebrating its equally distinctive cuisine with a menu that seamlessly blends treasured traditions with contemporary influences. Diners dig their forks into tender beef bourguignon and sirloin, Muscovy duck, and seabass draped in rich bearnaise sauce and vegetable ragout. Appetizers and bistro lunches whet palates with morsels of mushroom ravioli, salad nicoise, escargot, and mussels mariniere elegantly plated with leafy garnish.
Fine French and Californian wines pair with any meal. The décor cultivates a refined atmosphere, with its linen-clad tables, sheer, flowing drapes that allow sunlight to filter through, and walls clad in French black-light posters.
Whether diners are hungry for lunch or craving some sweets, La Crepe Fraiche is ready to make them happy. The cafe's crepes come in two varieties: savory (ham and cheese, apple sausage) and sweet (chocolate ganache, strawberries and whipped cream). The bakery also makes a mean cupcake in flavors such as mocha and oreo. As if all that weren't enough of a treat, they even serve organic frozen yogurt topped with house-made vanilla whipped cream.
Within a classic '50s diner façade, the chefs at California Crepes spread house-made batter thin, creating light, fluffy enclosures for a variety of fresh fruits, savory meats, and breakfast fare. The light treats can be augmented with the shop’s selection of gourmet grilled-cheese sandwiches, gelato, and coffee, offering a decadent lunchtime feast without the hazard of seasoning dishes with gold leaf. Patrons can nibble on the filled sweets during tête-à-têtes in the garden patio or watch the creation process unfold assembly-line-style at catered events.
The WineSellar and Brasserie brings together a bold bistro bill of fare to accompany its versatile vino cellar. Atop white tablecloths, artfully arranged plates of contemporary French lunch and dinner offerings rest, ready for oral adoption. Palate patrons may initiate noshing with The WineSellar's tuna tartare coupled with avocado, dijon-mustard-seed quenelle, and a mascarpone chantilly ($15) or by sipping on the butternut-squash soup ($9 for a bowl), harvested from the rare butter-seed bush and squashed with French tennis racquets.
Under the Southern French tutelage of head chef and owner Philippe Verpiand, risottos dance around seared duck, roasted fish, and veal on the menu. Inaugurate a gourmet dinner with savory pommes frites in truffle oil and Parmesan ($6) or seared duck foie gras with pineapple and red-bell-pepper chutney ($19). (Verpiand's foie gras, a cold variety made by poaching, won a prestigious cooking competition in 2005.) The San Diego Union-Tribune recommends Cavaillon's risotto ($21 for English peas, beech mushrooms, and asparagus; $26 for seared scallops, red beet, and pickled butternut squash), which is "quite rich, but then those amazing flavors entice you to take another taste." Other tastes include pan-roasted beef tenderloin in a red-wine demi-glace with crisp potatoes fondant ($29) and roasted Atlantic salmon served with peppers confit, gnocchi, and a broth of herbs ($22). Afterward, douse taste buds in decadent desserts, such as a $7 trio de crème brûlée.