After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America, pastry chef Anita Ross moved to Seattle and began selling crepes out of farmers’ markets. The year was 2004. Over the next four years she built up a following with her sweet and savory crepes stuffed with roasted duck, apple confit, wild mushrooms, and a variety of other seasonal items. In that time, Anita also forged strong bonds with local fishermen and farmers that have served her well since opening Anita’s Crepes in 2008. She’s able to use the finest organic ingredients in her crepes, many of which are made with the traditional Britanny blend of buckwheat and bread flours. And several of her meats and cheeses are imported from countries that have fertile soil for growing beef plants and mozzarella ball trees. Anita channels France specifically when catering to special events, preparing her crepes on the spot much like the street vendors of Paris.
Chef Laurent Gabrel, of Voilà! in Madison Valley, crafts Chloé Bistrot's classic French menu to imitate the eateries found along Parisian cobblestone streets. Begin a culinary getaway with an appetizer of escargots dressed in garlic-butter sauce atop baguette crostini ($12), before donning taste-bud hiking boots for a trek to succulent entrées. Twine fork tines into a pan-seared beef medallion with green-peppercorn sauce and classic fries ($23), or indulge in mussels in a tomato, garlic, and fresh-thyme broth, an elegant mollusk alternative to Fabergé clams ($14). An amply stocked wine list joins bites and sips in mouthwatering matrimony with an array of French vintages ($7–$12). Guests may reach a chic dinner's finish line with a serving of rich chocolate mousse ($7), ice-cream-filled profiteroles ($9), or a celebratory fist pump.
Recently opened by the owners of the popular Hangar Cafe, The Ridgeback Cafe designs couture crepes, waffles, sandwiches, and more. Stroll into the 65th Street location and dig into the signature Ridgeback crepe, an envelope stuffed, like wedding invitations, with sausage, egg, onions, mushrooms, avocado, and cheddar ($9.50). Sucrose seekers can chomp on a coco-banana crepe, adorned with whipped cream, toasted coconut, and walnuts ($7). A savory waffle tellingly named "Are you kidding me?" brandishes two fried eggs and apple-smoked bacon ($7.50), while the Triple B waffle mixes apple-smoked bacon, brie, and basil for a meal more satisfying than discovering a brick of gold in a winter-coat pocket.
As you and your dining date nestle close in Crêpe Cafe's cozy confines, you'll get to watch the crêpes get spun right in front of you. Though crêpes are traditionally a dessert, it's recommended that you start with the menu of dinner crêpes first. Whet your appetite with a bubbly-cheesed French onion soup before wrapping your reptilian tongue around entrees such as Heaven's Crêpe (Black Forest ham and swiss topped with homemade béchamel sauce and fresh asparagus, $12.95 for a regular) or the Island Girl (shrimp with fresh mango, spinach, roma tomatoes, avocado, and Swiss topped with a Caribbean lime and mushroom sauce, $15.95). Vegetarians won't have to huffily pick things out of their crêpe and then feed them to roaming restaurant dogs if they order the Westchester (avocado, swiss, caramelized onions, roma tomatoes, and spinach with sun-dried tomato coulis, $12.95 for a regular) or the house specialty, Mushroom Medley (assorted mushrooms sautéed in a white wine and garlic cream sauce wrapped in a buckwheat crêpe with gruyere cheese, $12.95).
Wrap taste buds around an impressive lineup of savories, including vegetable ratatouille under melted imported Swiss cheese, herb butter, and fresh spinach ($6.95), and scrambled-egg crêpes draped in a subtle mushroom sauce ($5.75). Smoked-wild-salmon-lox crêpes with crème fraiche and lemon ($7.25) punctuate brunch-time bites alongside the semi-sweet cooked-apple crêpe with a dash of maple syrup and imported Swiss ($6.50). Make the leap to full-on sweet with dulce-de-leche caramel crêpes topped with real whipped cream ($4.50), or dark-chocolate crêpes with raspberry sauce, chopped hazelnuts, and real whipped cream ($5.95), among many others. Locally made ice cream and hot and cold drinks are also available.
Fans of French patisserie will travel deep into Ballard to belly up to the counter at Honoré Artisan Bakery, known for its delectable macarons sold in flavors like salted caramel, passionfruit and lavender chocolate. Others opt for the caramel-topped Koign Amman, a fluffy pastry the size of a baseball, to go along with a handcrafted coffee. While this petite bakery doesn’t offer much in the way of seating, aside from sidewalk chairs and a hidden patio, the simple interior still sports a few homey touches, like an aging wooden credenza that doubles as a stand for coffee lids and napkins. Local fans (and there are many) don’t seem to mind much, if only because the baked goods here are unstoppably delicious. Take home a box of gougeres, a lemon meringue tart dotted with kisses of spun sugar, a pear tart or a dense single-serving honey cheesecake.