One foot in the door of Creperie Omer and it’s as though I have entered the silent scene of a Charlie Chaplin film. At first glance everything before me is black and white and the only sound is a distinctive French accordion tune.
Black and white tiled floors stage the setting for this quaint cafe. A black and white panoramic skyline of Paris borders the cafe walls which are further embellished by monochrome photographs of the French capital. My gaze settles on a large photo, black and white of course, of a young man that is hanging behind the cash register.
I am startled from this gaze when chef and owner Jerry Verbeem bursts through the kitchen doors, breaking the silence with robust laughter.
Returning my attention to the photo, Jerry explains that this is the focal point of the creperie. It is taken of his maternal grandfather, Omer Seguin, at 17 years of age and represents the beginning of this legacy.
The photo inspired the black and white theme, a contrast that is fused by a complimentary menu combining traditional and contemporary fare. “I really wanted to mix the old element with the new element,” explains Jerry, “to create the sense that if my grandfather were here, if he were still alive, we would be able to come here and enjoy some time together.”
Keeping in mind his French heritage- and his first sample of a crepe about 10 years ago – Jerry has fine tuned the setting and cuisine for a dining experience that adds a colourful flare to the Ottawa Street Village.
The creperie hosts an expansive menu which, in addition to savoury crepes (also known as galettes) and sweet crepes, offers a selection of soups, sandwiches and open faced baguettes called Tartines. While the atmosphere is Parisian, the dining is eclectic and incorporates Italian, Greek and South American influences. One of Jerry’s favourite ingredients, Dulce de Leche, is a caramel-like creme he sampled while travelling through Argentina. This sweetened milk treat is key to his Crepe Alfajore, a dish based on a traditional coconut cookie he discovered while abroad.
For those who prefer a local feel, the menu at Creperie Omer hosts a Canadian theme that reflects Jerry’s Francophone roots. La QuÃ©becoise is an open faced sandwich topped with ham, swiss, asparagus, dijonaise and almonds. Another dish, called Fondue Camping, is a sophisticated version of smores – one of my favourite fireside snacks! And who could resist the maple flavoured tea?
Keeping in mind the mouth-watering dessert options, I opt for a savoury crepe for dinner. Each of the signature menu items is appropriately named after a member of the Seguin family, and I opt for the stout sounding Crepe Gregoire, a galette which bears the name of Jerry’s uncle. A colourful blend of chicken breast, roasted peppers, and sauteed mushrooms, combined with pesto and goat cheese were presented in a perfectly packaged crepe of buckwheat flour.
The traditional use of buckwheat to prepare savoury crepes originates in Brittany. The buckwheat grain provides a meaty texture to the crepe adding substance to each bite while its nutty aroma brings a subtle but complimenting layer of flavour to the dish. I can’t think of a more delectable casing for a crepe!
The Gregoire proved to be substantial. Despite feeling full to the brim, there was no leaving my sweet tooth unappeased. I was dining with a friend who was easily coaxed into sharing the Crepe Barbara, a strawberry filled roll with melted white chocolate and almonds. It measured up to the Gregoire, but taking our time we tackled it from either end and polished it off nonetheless. The blend of refreshing strawberries and decadent white chocolate made it impossible to resist.
A deliberate combination of authentic flavours makes the product of Jerry’s efforts worth savouring. And savouring means slowing down. Although crepes are a “fast-food,” cooking at 200oF and taking less than five minutes to dish up, most of Jerry’s guests are in no hurry.
“People who come in are fantastic,” he explains. “One thing I’ve noticed is that they want to get out of Windsor for a bit. Whether they feel like they’re in Montreal for a moment or in Paris, they’re not really worried about the time.”
But if you are, Jerry has effectually displayed clocks showing the local times for Windsor, Montreal, and Paris.
Whether you’re on the go or if you have all day, Creperie Omer provides a cozy escape from the ordinary. Amidst black napkins and white platters, this unique cafe offers brings a colourful flare to Windsor’s Ottawa Street Village.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Melissa is a freelance writer who enjoys travel and food writing. She would do a lot more travelling and a lot less dining if her hometown wasn’t chock full of diverse and authentic cuisine. She also writes for health publications and journals, with contributions to Alive Magazine and Rehabilitation Psychology.