241 E. Liberty St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
Phone: (734) 369-3207
I was a bit nervous walking into What Crepe? on Liberty near downtown. The restaurant exudes a hip, sophisticated vibe. Crystal chandeliers dangled from the exposed ceiling over sleek black and silver tables and eclectic booths. Techno music pulsed from the sound system and the staff was dressed entirely in black. All of this contrasted with my mundane family of four wearing jeans.
What Crepe? is inspired by the traditional French crepe, a thin batter made from wheat, buckwheat or corn flour filled with different ingredients. The crepe dates back thousands of years, but the Ann Arbor What Crepe? opened last year, the third location after those in Birmingham and Royal Oak.
Our server welcomed us with a chilled bottle of water, which he poured into small glasses at our table. He pointed out the savory and sweet crepes, the vast array of ingredients available to make your own crepe, plus the appetizers, soup, and salads. Most couples order two savory crepes and share a sweet crepe, he said. There were almost twenty savory and a dozen sweet crepes. Some choices were geared towards breakfast, like the James Dean with sausage, scrambled eggs, potatoes, cheddar and a cherry maple glaze.
Dessert for dinner, please!
My husband chose the popular Spicy Chicken Truffle ($13.75) with chicken, spinach, swiss, and truffle zip sauce. He substituted blue cheese for the swiss, which was easily accommodated as each crepe is made to order. I ordered the Monte Cristo with ham, turkey, spinach, swiss, raspberry sauce, and powdered sugar ($12.75).
Our kids, 10- and 7-years-old, perused the “Le Petite” menu. Their menu offered three savory crepes—pizza, ham and cheese, or grilled cheese—for $7, including a bottomless drink. Sweet crepes, like one with Nutella and banana, were also available. My daughter chose the pizza crepe. My ten-year-old decided to “Build Your Own” from the main menu. He added caramelized apples, caramel sauce, cinnamon sugar, and whipped cream ($6 base price plus $5 in toppings).
“You’re having dessert for dinner?” I asked.
“Technically,” he replied.
My husband started with a bowl of the soup du jour: fire-roasted sweet pepper bisque. It was smooth and creamy with a spicy kick. Meanwhile, the kids colored on their menus and took trips to the open kitchen to watch the chefs prepare the crepes. When a crepe is ready, it is served, as they do not use microwaves or hot lamps. This meant we each got our crepe separately. Keep this in mind if you go with a large group or dine when it is crowded.
Food in the form of art
The crepes were artfully presented and tasted as good as they looked. There were generous chunks of ham and turkey in my Monte Cristo. The powdered sugar and raspberry sauce added pleasant sweetness. My son’s own creation, tasting like apple pie, was gobbled up, as was my daughter’s pizza crepe with sauce, cheese, and pepperoni.
My husband deemed the Spicy Chicken Truffle excellent. “The blue cheese is a nice compliment to the spice. The chicken does have some heat.” He particularly liked the zip sauce, an emulsion of butter, truffle oil and soy sauce.
For dessert, my kids ordered a bowl of ice cream and crispies with Nutella (both $2.50). The crispies were baked crepe chips dusted with powdered sugar and cocoa. My husband and I shared a What? Chocolate Éclair with vanilla bean custard, Nutella, white chocolate chips, powdered sugar, cocoa powder, and whipped cream for $11. We added fresh raspberries to cut down on the sweetness. The crepe was bountiful, decadent and delicious.
“Bring your kids,” my son instructed me to write. “They have a really cool coloring page and they have kid-friendly food.”
THE SHORT COURSE
To avoid wait Get there before 6pm on weekends or make a reservation. Sunday brunch is also a busy time.
Noise level Moderate to high
Bathroom amenities No changing tables
High chairs Yes
Got milk Yes, white or chocolate plus apple or orange juice and soda.
Kids menu Yes
Anything healthy for kids Crepes are customizable with healthy (and not healthy!) ingredients. Vegan and gluten free crepes are available, too.
Food allergy concerns They can accommodate allergies, so talk with your server. They can scrub everything down and cook food separately.