Holy crepe! Family-owned restaurant takes the crepe, eats it, too

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Carter Guensler

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When it comes to food, we can thank Paris for many of our favorite dishes. Without France, there would be no baguettes, croissants, eclairs or crème brûlée. French chefs are cuisine geniuses in their own right, but no one knew crepes better than my dear grandmother, Tammy Guensler. She perfected her crepe recipe throughout 40 years of home cooking. Sure that none of the local crepe shops in Atlanta could produce anything that rivaled our “Grandma’s Hotcakes,” I set out to taste the best.

Despite my “it’s grandma’s or bust” mentality, there are actually several crepe shops in the neighborhoods surrounding Grady that really put Grammy Tammy’s recipe to the test. My first crepe, however, kicked off the adventure with nothing but disappointment. Upon arriving at the International House of Pancakes (428 Ponce De Leon Ave. NE), I ordered the crepe special, which didn’t live up to its name. It certainly didn’t taste special. Rolled up with a conglomerate of mushy strawberries and too-sweet whipped cream, IHOP did not satisfy. I was able to stomach the entire meal, but honestly, the crepe wasn’t worth the $4.99 I paid for it. In my opinion, IHOP should leave crepes alone and stick to what they claim to be good at: pancakes.

Next on my list was a quaint little shop in Inman Park by the name of Julianna’s (775 Lake Ave. NE). Rich in family history and enticing flavors, Julianna’s crepes are of the rural Hungarian style, a recipe that has been passed down from generation to generation. Serving up sweet crepes that ranged from $3 to $6 and savory crepes priced from $6 to $8, Julianna’s is definitely on the high end of crepe making. The word crepe is derived from the Latin word crispa, meaning “curled.” However, the crepes I ordered, the “Serf’s Special” and “Cinnamon Baked Apple,” were served folded into a triangle, and they tasted just as scrumptious as their rolled counterparts. In fact, Julianna’s delicate balance of spices made for the sweetest and most savory crepes I have ever tasted (sorry Grandma). As an added bonus, those into the farm-to-table movement will rejoice at the fact that Julianna’s uses only hand-picked produce from local Atlanta farmers’ markets. By selecting only the best fruits and veggies as well as top-notch preserves and jams, Julianna’s supports Georgia farms and satisfies Georgia bellies.

Since I was a toddler, my parents, sister and I have been devout patrons of the Original Pancake House (2321 Cheshire Bridge Road). A classic diner, The Original Pancake House has great food, a bustling kitchen, diners lining up outside and an extremely friendly atmosphere. It takes a while to get your seat, but the meals are well worth the wait. Once inside, I decided I’d give their crepes a taste. My family ordered Georgia peach crepes, apple crepes, Swedish pancakes—an ultra thin crepe served with lingonberries—and the Texas crepe—an omelet rolled inside a crepe and served with sour cream and salsa. After sampling all of them, my family was full, and we still had plenty left over for later. Each dish cost about $8, and although they couldn’t beat Julianna’s specialty crepes in flavor, the Original Pancake House’s offerings were delicious and traditional. I give them points for variety, generous portions and atmosphere. So, if you’re looking for a good place to start your day, the Original Pancake House is the place to go.

For my last stop, I headed to Paolo’s (1025 Virginia Ave. NE). While he had nothing savory to offer, his strawberry crepe served with a generous scoop of gelato was—pardon my French—delicieux! The strawberry crepe absolutely blew IHOP’s pathetic excuse for a hotcake out of the water. Of course, while the crepe itself was well made, it was really the presentation that should be praised. Smothered in a heaping portion of gelato and drowned in strawberry syrup, Paolo served me his one-of-a-kind crepe topped with a mountain of whipped cream and fresh strawberries. I was surprised to find the most ingenious invention known to man sitting atop my bowl of creamy goodness: an edible ice cream cone spoon. The crepe was so warm it began to melt my increasingly soupy scoop of Gelato, but if eaten quickly, this poses no real problem for the avid (and hungry) crepe fanatic.

Compared to the other shops, Paolo’s gelateria serves an average Nutella crepe, but the scoop of gelato on top makes the crepe unique. Deserving of his reputation for delicious dessert, Paolo charges $6 for a nutella crepe or just $7 for a fresh fruit crepe topped with any flavor of gelato, whipped cream and fruit sauce. With a single scoop of gelato alone ringing up the tab to $5, paying two more is a bargain when you get such an enjoyable addition. Among his flavors are choco-banana, peach, kiwi and strawberry.

With such a wide variety of crepes, each served in a unique style, it’s hard to pick a favorite. For someone searching for a good crepe that also satisfies their frozen sweet tooth, I recommend Paolo’s. If you want a big breakfast and a friendly diner experience, I recommend The Original Pancake House, but Julianna’s serves the most delectable crepes in town. While Grammy Tammy’s home-cooked family recipe will always hold a special place in my heart, I was looking for the absolute best. When it comes to those flat pancakes that we all know and crave, Julianna’s takes the crepe.