Versus: And So I Crepe, Yeah

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La Cote's Crepe Complete
Over the last few years, crepes have infiltrated Seattle's culinary landscape. Creperies have popped up all over Seattle, in the form of farmers-market stand-turned-sit-down restaurant, walk-up window, and tiny cafe. Though the crepe may seem fancy and formal in its quintessential Frenchiness, a great crepe is really not so different from a street-food treat like the taco: fast, fresh, cheap. This week Versus investigates crepes at two decidedly different spots: La Cote Creperie, Madison Valley's haven of Francophilia, and Joe Bar, a Capitol Hill coffee shop that's been quietly serving up crepes for years.

La Cote Creperie (2811 E Madison St, 323-9800) is as charming as it is stifling in its French-ity (tiny, with chalkboard menus all in French, French being spoken by staff and customers, and enough blue-and-white-striped decor to never let you forget that we're talking France here). La Cote's crepe complete ($9), filled with ham and Emmental and topped with a fried egg, makes for a wonderfully simple, filling meal. In the tradition of Brittany, the region in northwest France where crepes originate, this savory crepe (also called a galette) is made with buckwheat flour, giving the crepe a sturdy, pleasant crispness and mild, nutty flavor. Though it was left on the griddle just a few seconds too long, allowing the bottom of the crepe to get a touch dry and crackly, the filling made up for it: a layer of full-flavored cheese topped with thin slices of mild ham -- luscious, and a wee bit gooey. The saltiness was balanced beautifully by a perfectly fried, sunny-side-up egg, whose golden yolk ran over the crepe and bound everything together.

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At Joe Bar (810 E Roy St, 324-0407), they don't bother with the traditional distinctions of making savory crepes with buckwheat flour, opting instead to make everything from the same wheat batter. Joe Bar's crepes definitely lack the texture and subtle flavor that buckwheat brings, but they're moist and rich, with a nice eggy chew. An egg, Gruyere, and arugula crepe ($7) is so well-assembled -- layers of soft scrambled egg, salty cheese, and peppery greens -- that the flavors meld together seamlessly, and you get just the right amount of each in every bite. (You may even find yourself peeking into the crepe and separating layers to better understand just how these bites are built.)

Verdict: Joe Bar's attention to detail makes their crepe a success, but it falls short of the flavor and crispy texture of La Cote's buckwheat crepes. And, as with most things, the addition of a runny fried egg makes the crepe infinitely better. La Cote for the win.

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