In France, you can buy a crêpe on every corner, however, when I stumbled upon this gem of a restaurant, the crêpe experience was completely transformed from Nutella smothered and shoddily folded in a piece of card into a truly gourmet dish.
Tucked away down a cobbled street, Crêperie des deux Provinces is just a few steps from the famous Place de la Comédie, bustling with people day and night. The restaurant itself is one of the oldest crêperies in Montpellier. Opened in 1980, it is now run by the daughter of its former owner. The variety of savours offered on their menu is impressive; seafood and fish, meat and charcuterie, cheese and vegetables, along with an extensive choice of sweet crêpes to finish off your meal. Coupled with the inviting atmosphere, friendly staff and rapid service, I can honestly think of nothing negative to say about this characteristic family-tradition establishment.
The interior was not what I had expected. There is a charming nautical theme that carries through the entire restaurant (even up the spiral staircase to the WCs that say ‘captain’ and ‘lady’ on the doors). Wooden walls curve up to the ceiling, studded with deep blue mock round windows that give the impression of being in the hull of a ship.
Since moving to Montpellier, I have eaten at the crêperie multiple times – it’s fair to say that I am hooked and am eager to try as many of their masterfully devised flavour combinations as I can before leaving the city.
Here is a run-down of the crêpes that I have enjoyed thus far..
La Sétoise: medley of seafood, provençale sauce (homemade). (€10.50) The crêpe that sparked my fascination.
Placed in front of me was a precisely folded delicate parcel. I peeled back the soft skin to reveal the surprise within: mussels, calamari and prawns coated in a vibrant, creamy tomato seafood sauce. The flavours were perfectly balance – the sauce was well seasoned and flavoursome, yet did not overpower the fresh flavours of the seafood.
L’Alsacienne: chipolatas, emmental, mustard, provençale sauce and ham, topped with a fried egg. (€9.50) Possibly my favourite so far – a wonderful fusion of sweet, sour, spice and zing. This provençale sauce was a different blend than that of the seafood crêpe. Rich with punchy sun-dried tomatoes and a touch of chilli, it offset with oiliness from the sausage and emmental.
La Basquaise: chicken breast with ratatouille and emmental. (€10.80) Bringing southern flare to the Breton art of crêpe-making with the much loved southern dish of ratatouille. The chicken perfectly moist, the ratatouille bold, fresh and vibrant and everything bound together with smudges of emmental cheese.
Le Complète: portobello mushrooms in cream with ham and emmental, topped with a fried egg. (€9.70) The quintessential crêpe complète is inevitable present on every French crêpe menu. However, unlike many restaurants that mechanically throw it together and suffocate the delicate flavour of the mushrooms with far too much cheese Crêperie des Deux Provinces makes their version with care and the finest ingredients. Overall, the crêpe was generously filled, with a good balance between the 3 star ingredients. The mature portobello mushrooms were meaty and full-bodied and glazed in a light cream sauce. The ham brought a delicate smokey element. Placing the egg on the outside of the crêpe parcel, rather than hidden away inside is a nice touch and adds colour to an otherwise inevitable unexciting look of a crêpe.
Le Pont du Gard: ‘brandade de morue’ (a regional dish of puréed dried, salted cod and potato) with fondue of leeks. (€8.50) I did find this dish a touch on the salty side, but this is down to its main ingredient: salted cod purée. However, the leeks were beautifully moelleux (the French word provides the perfect description here and its true meaning is hard to translate) and overall the crêpe offered an abundance of sinful creaminess.
Le Corail: scallops with parsley and ‘fondue’ of leeks. (€11.50) Again, the leeks here were cooked to perfection and rich with butter – certainly not a great choice for the weigh conscious. Being an expensive seafood, I had expected the scallops to be used sparingly, perhaps chopped up in the leeks. In complete contrast and to my surprise, the crêpe came stuffed with 6 sizeable scallops, satin in texture, not overcooked and rubbery. The most delightful element was the crisp, buttery edges of the thin crêpe brought about by the butter seeping out when cooking.
La Banane-Cannelle: sliced banana and cinnamon. (€6.50) Simple, yet effective – ripe and sweet banana perfectly balanced with a dusting of cinnamon. Nothing more, nothing less.
L’Orangette: hot chocolate (homemade) and bitter orange. (€5.50) I am a completely choc-a-holic and, being close to christmas, couldn’t resist the hard-to-beat combination of chocolate and orange – everyone knows of that chocolate orange ball of joy many of us enjoy at this time of year. Using marmalade rather than sweet orange gave freshness to what would otherwise be a very sickly treat. The hot chocolate sauce was dark and smooth, but not so thick as to glue itself to the roof of your mouth.
I washed down several of these crêpes with deliciously fruity and lightly bubbly cidre, à la Bretagne – the birthplace of the crêpe.
Don’t miss their christmas specials menu – their luxury seasonal combinations of duck, fois gras, apple, onion, smoked salmon, scallops and sherry are not to be missed!
Crêperie des Deux Provinces, 7 Rue Jacques Coeur, 34000, Montpellier
(Monday – Saturday: 11:45 – 14:15, 18:45 – 23:30)
T: 04 67 60 68 10