Back in January I had an early experience at the recently-opened Chez Elle creperie in the westside area near 17th and Summit. My take, at that time, was that it had some operational flaws, and the decor was not what I had hoped, but the food was pretty good.
Went back today for brunch with good friends Amanda and Jared and their beautiful twin girls, and found some definite improvements in place.
First of all, there were at least five employees manning the counter, which was at least two more than there were on our first trip. Though the line still moved a little slow, and one still must wait in line regardless of whether ordering a crepe or coffee (no waitstaff), they were able to get over 20 people through during our short stay, most of whom looked quite pleased as they sipped their coffee and forked their stuffed French pancakes.
Secondly, business seems to be doing well. Every seat on the front patio, which is now covered with several comfortable-looking tables and chairs with big red umbrellas for shade, was filled when we left around 10:00 am. And the laid back newspaper reading, caffeine-consuming patrons looked the part of French cafe goers. I think this is where I'll opt to sit on my next trip, maybe before a weekly visit to the farmers' market.
Third, my drip coffee contained no nutmeg! In fact, it was a truly, honest-to-goodness delicious cup of coffee. I'm so glad they quit secretly spicing the joe.
In a breakfasty mood, I went with the Bonjour crepe, which was filled with tons of cheese, little bits of ham and egg, then topped with lots more fluffy scrambled eggs and what I believe was a cheesy mornay sauce. With so much cheese already inside the crepe, the mornay was overkill for me, adding a classically French layer of richness that was one too many for my palette, but not untrue to French cuisine. And I'd imagine most diners would enjoy the sauce, so I can't downgrade for that. Still, three hours later, I was hardly ready for lunch.
Elizabeth went for the simple and cleanly flavored Petite Maison, with gruyere, mushrooms and spinach. One might anticipate, reading those ingredients, this crepe could be a little short on flavor. And it was. But it was refreshing, at the same time. The mushrooms' earthiness played well with the super-fresh and tender spinach leaves. The gruyere was just the right nutty cheese to bring them together. Wouldn't have been my choice, but for she who is always thinking along the lines of best health, it fit the bill.
And I have to admit, that decor I complained about previously was seen through different eyes today, when the twin girls sat themselves in the two miniature leather chairs and wood coffee table next to us and giggled at the cute kodak moment they had just created. Now I (almost) have a soft spot for the comfort of Chez Elle's environment.
On a final note, our companions have Celiac and must avoid gluten. Despite a menu predicated entirely on a food made with it, Chez Elle boasts gluten-free choices as well as vegan! This type of attention to the needs of their patrons is not only kind, it's good for business.
So, as mentioned, several upgrades to report. It's not on my "gotta go" list of breakfast spots in town yet, but I certainly won't avoid Chez Elle in the future, either. Still sticking with a one napkin rating, but changing my song from Tres Ordinaire to tout à fait content.
Rating: one napkin