Crepes on Queen Street
Diary of the Perfect Canadian/Parisian Marriage
By Candace Boggan
What happens when a French chef opens a bistro just down the road from one of the world’s most spectacular wonders? Why palatial, delectable bliss occurs, of course. Less than one mile from Niagara Falls waterfall sits a cozy Parisian Bistro named Paris Crepes Café in the city of Niagara Falls, Ontario. Located in the heart of the downtown district, on Queen Street, this breath of fresh air offers a touch of class to a community in the process of revitalization.
Owner Thierry Clement, who hails from Grenoble, France, opened this sumptuous eatery in 2009. A well-seasoned chef and restaurateur, Thierry decided to relocate to the area 17 years ago. He has a remarkable résumé that spans the globe, with a work history that includes an “externship in St. Tropez and culinary assignments from L’annapurna in Courchevel, France, to Pierre Victoire, a French Bistro, in Scotland.” Professionally trained in France, Chef Clement learned the art of crepe-making while working with Chef Jean Pierre Falies at the Creperie L’ hippocampe in Port Grimaud near St. Tropez. He was on staff there between 1984 and 1987, before venturing off to his next great assignment. To my surprise, Chef Thierry confessed that, initially, the idea of making crepes didn’t exactly appeal to him. It wasn’t until his time with Chef Falies that his mind was changed. Once he mastered the proper technique, the rest was history.
My visit to downtown Niagara Falls was truly one of the highlights of my Canadian stay when I discovered this sophisticated little bistro. Perhaps it’s the ambiance, or maybe the mix of food and furnishings that draw you in. The restaurant has French-inspired décor that graces the walls and dining area throughout. The minute you step inside, it’s as if you’ve crossed the threshold of a quaint French Bistro, in a small Parisian neighborhood. The menu also successfully complements the warmth and coziness of the establishment, offering a vast list of crepes to choose from. Of course there are numerous sweet dishes of pure joy, but also scrumptious savory ones too. The bistro caters to everyone from vegans to carnivores. During my initial visit, I ordered an item from the savory side: a delicious vegetable, buckwheat crepe – a magnificent option for both vegetarians and vegans since it contains no animal products. Though vegan-friendly, I assure you that flavor has not been sacrificed in any way. So thrilled with my experience, I stopped back at the conclusion of my day for an evening bonus.
Restaurant Manager Starr, whose name perfectly fit her upbeat and genial personality, recommended I try La Baraka, which is her favorite. I must admit, her suggestion was an awesome one. My palate cheered with each explosion of flavor as if a French band were performing within my mouth. The blend of salted caramel, bananas and shaved chocolate was more than I bargained for. Thank goodness I’d covered my workout earlier that day on a walking tour. I didn’t feel so remiss over the consumption of calories I’d just so happily put away.
My time with Thierry was informative and pleasant. He was gracious and enthusiastic when speaking with me. As we conversed, I acquired additional knowledge about ingredients, learned about wine-pairing, reviewed upcoming local events, and even discussed future plans. When asked about most popular dishes, Chef Clement identified La Parisienne, which includes mushrooms, goat cheese and tomato, and La Gourmande, comprised of egg, tomato, brie, bacon and maple syrup as two of the bistro’s ‘fan favorites’ (from the savory list.) He also pinpointed the Niagara Falls, a mix of berries, peaches, vanilla ice cream and Nutella, as the #1 sweet treat (yes, the crepe is named after the area.) As for his top pick, Thierry shared a soon-to-be addition that excited me with each detail. It includes apricot, rum, salted butter caramel, shaved chocolate and whipped crème. I imagined the amalgamation of flavors coming together as he shared each component. Joy immediately filled the heart of this foodie.
Chef Clement also spoke about the marvelous events planned for the summer. The list includes an upcoming music and jazz festival, among others, so it was obvious that the downtown district loves to have a grand time. As thrilling as that was to hear, it was what Thierry said next that intrigued me the most. He “plans to expand” to other regions. He’s looking to “open a second location in the Toronto area next year,” and even has hopes of “expanding the crepe bistro into the U.S.” When he does, I assure you I’ll be one of the first of many patrons to visit! That was just the news I’d been waiting to hear all day.
If you are in the Niagara Falls, Ontario area, I highly recommend you stop by for a delicious piece of Paris that packs a prodigious punch. You’ll be so thankful that you did.
Images courtesy of Paris Crepes Cafe.
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