Monday, June 24, 2024

The Florentine served at the window bar of the Little Crepe Cafe. (Photo: Tom Meek)

Little Crepe Cafe, the wonderfully spartan and open Parisian-modeled crêperie on Oxford Street where the old Oxford Spa used to be, shut down mid-pandemic. When I peered in the window afterward, a woman opened the door and said it would be back serving savory and sweet stuffed triangles of golden goodness within the month under new ownership, good news for one of my favorite places to write and have a midday nosh and coffee. That was a year ago. For whatever reason, it never opened under that new ownership; now a different partnership has come together to get Little Crepe back in business, and with an emphasis on service and community engagement – crepes, community and coffee, if you will.

The menu’s not that big or diverse, but there’s an unsung elegance in that aided by an eye to quality. On the sweet side,. Nutella reigns: There’s the Classic, with strawberries, and S’mores or Cinnamon Bun spins leveraging the sweetened Italian hazelnut cocoa spread. For more nuanced tastes, there’s the Brie Delight featuring the French cheese, fig jam (yum) and walnuts. I hang more on one the savory side of the menu, where there’s a breakfast crepe with scrambled eggs (obviously), turkey bacon, mozzarella and spinach, and the Caprese, a non-egg version of the former – one’s a brunch staple, the other, a late-lunch gobble.

A fuller meal and more complex in flavor and textures is the Florentine, with tender chicken freshly grilled with mozzarella, grilled sautéed spinach and mushrooms. It’s a winning combination that’s hard to mess up but harder to perfect; Little Crepe seems to get it right all the time.

Crepes come golden, pancake pliable, and generously and evenly stuffed from an open kitchen where you get to watch the masters at the griddle work their magic. Besides the satiating crepes, Little Crepe has great ambiance. It’s a clean, inviting dining space, but conducive to relaxing and reading and writing – study hall with coffee and crepes. Part of that appeal is the spread-out spacing of the tables and the on-the-street homeyness of a window bar; then you add the cool, soft bluesy jazz being piped in, and you’re in your own space while being part of something more. Little Crepe has branched out into Friday night community events that include poetry readings and solo performers. It’s a resurrection with an added neighborhood embrace. If you come in and the staff is a bit busy, just sit down and relax; they’ll come to you, get your order and bring you your golden goodness fresh off the griddle.

The Little Crêpe Café (102 Oxford St., Baldwin neighborhood, Cambridge)

Cambridge writer Tom Meek’s reviews, essays, short stories and articles have appeared in WBUR’s The ARTery, The Boston Phoenix, The Boston Globe, The Rumpus, The Charleston City Paper and SLAB literary journal. Tom is also a member of the Boston Society of Film Critics and rides his bike everywhere.