WORLD ON A PLATE — I don’t know about you, but before this assignment, I didn’t know much about crepes. Sure, I’ve experienced the occasional brunch buffet that would offer a fruit-filled crepe as part of the dessert station, but I have never heard of a restaurant that only serves crepes. Fenton Café is just that.
Technically speaking, a crepe is a very thin type of pancake, usually made from wheat flour and originating (though some may argue) in France. Crepes consist of many different fillings but the most well known are berry-filled, or sweet, crepes that are typically eaten as a dessert. However, the Fenton Café offers in so much more.
Meaza Gabru, an 11-year resident of Silver Spring, opened the restaurant (her first) three months ago on Fenton Street, a few blocks from downtown Silver Spring.
Specializing in crepes and coffee, Gabru, originally from Ethiopia, says she and her husband were looking for something different in a coffee shop. After experiencing a shop on New Hampshire Avenue that served crepes along with coffee, Gabru recognized it as the type of shop she wanted to own. At the time, Gabru knew nothing about crepes, but that didn’t stop her. “I paid a man $2,000 for 17 days of training and here I am,” she says as she swirls around the thin pancake-like batter on one of the two crepe makers. And thank goodness for that! Fenton Café is the only restaurant located in Silver Spring that offers such an assortment of this tasty treat.
The menu consists of two types of crepes — savory and sweet — which will satisfy any appetite. I decide to start with the savory and work my way over to the sweet. I chose the #1, which was filled with grilled chicken, cheese, tomato and pesto sauce, and the #13 – spinach, caramelized onions, feta cheese and sundried tomato. Both were absolutely delicious, overflowing with flavorful ingredients. Much better than a sandwich made with heavy bread, the crepes were light, yet filling. Both were served with a small salad of mixed greens, tomatoes, olives with a light dressing. It was the perfect side for such a delectable meal. After enjoying the savory, I didn’t think it could get much better.
As I snapped some pictures, I deliberated on the sweet side of the menu, deciding on the #2, consisting of fresh apples, brown sugar and cinnamon, and the #20, which was filled with strawberries, lemon and sugar. Wait a minute – I noticed one I had overlooked – the Belgian Chocolate! My mouth began to water. As a chocolate fanatic, how could I have overlooked such a classic crepe option? I mentioned this out loud and Gabru quickly (and kindly!) whipped one up for me.
If I thought I was hooked by the savory crepes, the sweet ones were even more incredible. The apple crepe featured fresh, diced apples, sprinkled with brown sugar and cinnamon, and was warm to the touch. Accented with some whipped cream, this crepe was better than any homemade apple pie I have ever tasted.
The #20, made up of thin slices of bright strawberries with lemon zest and sugar really shined as well, not too sweet and utterly fantastic. Finally, Gabru produced the Belgium chocolate crepe and I quickly pushed away my other desserts to make room. The sweet, Belgium dark chocolate flowing in between the delicate, soft crepe was the chocolate indulgence of my dreams. They say dark chocolate is good for you, right? If so, I know where I will be every time I have a desire for an amazing dark chocolate treat.
Gabru says that the restaurant is busiest in the mornings (they open at 8am) and on the weekends. Besides crepes, Fenton Café offers specialty coffees and other beverages, which is the majority of the purchases made by other customers while I am enjoying my crepes.
Overall, I love the Fenton Café. It’s cozy, bright and cheery, and Meazu makes a wonderful assortment of crepes to please any craving. It’s in a great location and I could easily find myself going out of my way a block or two to grab a quick coffee (and a breakfast crepe!) on my way to work. Another bonus is the plentiful street parking and outdoor seating.
The only problem with Fenton Café? Too many crepes to choose from! Especially for a new crepe lover like myself! So my recommendation would be to gather some friends and order a few crepes between you to share. Snag the outdoor table and enjoy! Repeat weekly until the entire menu has been devoured. I know I can’t wait to go back.
Those Nutella crepes are calling my name.
8311 Fenton Street
Hours: 8am-8:30pm Sunday – Saturday
Parking: Street parking, metered
Prices: $4 – $9 for crepes; $2 – $5 for specialty coffees.