Walking by, you almost miss it. There is awning after awning, all with the same brown and white stripes popping over a row of doors and windows. Squeezed next to an expansive Walgreen’s that almost spans the block, the Paris Creperie looks as if an alleyway has been parceled out and walled in. It’s hard to find, even if you have been there before. As an establishment, the Creperie claims about a fraction of the length of its neighboring stores – a small allotment for such a popular place.
Because it is in the busy Coolidge Corner section of Brookline, The Paris Creperie is passed by plenty of people each day, and plenty of people head in – that is, if they know that it is there. With small, closely clustered tables and booths lining the restaurant, it is hard to feel like the Paris Creperie is full of strangers. The eatery has a very exclusive feeling, what with its understated size and location; walking in, you feel like you’ve found a little slice of Paris, unknown except to those who have already had a piece of the pie.
The Creperie has just one door, and one window; and in that window is the only thing calling attention to the place: one simple, neon sign that reads “Paris” in delicate cursive. Once you’ve found it, a little bell rings as the door opens, but no one stares. Instead it’s mellow. The most inviting thing about this restaurant is the aroma of fresh food – so keen to the senses as the employees actually make the crepes right behind the counter where you can see, which makes the whole experience all the more intimate.
Another casual element of the Paris Creperie is the fact that they have no menus. When the hungry customer arrives, he must glance up at giant chalkboard scribbled legibly with an extensive list of delicious, unique crepes. There is any kind ranging from savory to sweet, from make-your-own to employee favorites. When the choice is finally (and difficultly) made, a waitress in a sleek black apron takes your order, her look reminiscent of the European style of simplicity and chic. Sure enough, looking past the register one notices not one but two clocks on the wall – one with Boston time, one with Paris time.
As customers await their concoctions, they are welcomed to help themselves to a pitcher of fresh water, which almost everyone in the place does unless he or she decides to order a nutella-infused smoothie. That’s another thing – the European feel of the Paris Creperie is absolutely heightened by the ubiquity of Nutella, a creamy chocolate hazelnut spread. The restaurant offers it in dessert crepes, smoothies, and even in hot chocolate.
As you comfortably sit and wait for your food, there are lovely European decorations all around and all in the Paris theme. If one takes the time to count, he may find six figurines of the Eiffel Tower in all different sizes scattered around the space, which is decorated in only black and gray. Black wood paneling inches up half the wall to meet quaint shelves with numerous picture frames set against a grey wall. Inside the frames are all black-and-white photographs, which match the room flawlessly, and feature nostalgic scenes of Paris: the Moulin Rouge, teacups filled with café au lait, the Seine River, and distinctive French homes with intricate wrought iron balconies reminiscent of the French Quarter in New Orleans. There are even black-and-white sketches on the walls of café scenes and lonely musicians, which add to the Creperie’s artsy feel.
Before you begin to think that perhaps the Paris Creperie could be over-the-top with pretentious décor, you are brought back by the employees’ own campy art – in the winter season, white construction paper snowflakes are taped to the window to welcome in the eaters and the blustering weather. Across the room a rack of magazines hangs, reminding the customer that he does not have to dwell here in Paris if he so chooses, and that the Creperie is not just a European eatery but a place to enjoy yourself, your company, their food and their cheerful service. The magazines themselves seem out of place; they invite the customer to stay a while, which may prove problematic due to the limited seating of the place, or may be frowned upon.
But as soon as that thought comes to mind, it flees. For under the rack of magazines lies a folding street sign, meant to be placed on the sidewalk in order to lure customers by its display of the establishment’s cuisine or prices. Yet, it is precariously placed next to the door, ready to be placed outside at any moment – but it never is. It’s never needed. Those who come to the Paris Creperie know no publicity is required; the restaurant has an inviting charm all its own – that is, if you can take the time to notice it from the street. For it is one place you don’t want to miss.