New Sherman Avenue creperie strives for authentic French flair

Susan Du

Evanston’s mayor cut the ribbon April 12 on Creperie Saint-Germain, the second restaurant operated by Bistro Bordeaux owner Pascal Berthoumieux.

The restaurant has been serving customers since Feb. 10.

Since then, customers have been regularly filling the restaurant, 1512 Sherman Ave., at prime lunch and dinner hours, an early indicator the new restaurant could follow Bistro Bordeaux’s success.

Evanston Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl, Ald. Don Wilson (5th) and some residents attended the ribbon-cutting event.

Despite the economic slump that has affected many Evanston businesses, Berthoumieux said he is confident the city can support independent enterprises.

“When I drive around, and when I’m just walking from this restaurant to (Bistro Bordeaux), I feel there are a lot of restaurants that are very slow,” he said. “I feel very grateful, and there’s not a single day that I don’t remind myself of that.”

The secret to success is having an original idea, Berthoumieux said.

“The reason why I opened a creperie is because there wasn’t any other creperie,” he said. “If you look at how many sushi places and noodle shops and Italian restaurants there are in the city, I feel it is easy to understand – you don’t need to be a marketing genius – that there is going to be a lot of competition.”

Creperie Saint-Germain’s trademark is authenticity, a value reflected in the tiniest details of the restaurant’s trademark dishes as well as its overall design and ambience. Crepes at Saint-Germain are unique in that they are made with 100 percent buckwheat flour, following the classic 14th century French tradition. Other ingredients are of similar quality: There are several vegetarian options, and non-vegetarian dishes are commonly made with organic meat.

Berthoumieux said he owes his attention to French authenticity to having obtained a culinary degree from the School of Bordeaux in addition to having grown up in France. The restaurant is decorated as a traditional French cafe, featuring the thematic Paris underground design on menus while giclee prints by Evanston artist John B. Martin hang on the walls.

Evanston resident Barbara Lang, 64, said she was attracted to the creperie by the authentic French exterior of its storefront, but it’s the chocolate mousse Marquis crepe that might bring her back.

“The people are very nice,” Lang said of daytime server Debra Curtis. “Other than that, it’s a nice atmosphere. I thought (the crepe) was very good. I ordered it with vanilla ice cream.”

Before Creperie Saint-Germain opened, the property at 1512 Sherman Ave. sat empty for more than a year. Justin Lee, floor manager of neighboring sushi lounge Kansaku, 1514 Sherman Ave., said the new restaurant is beneficial for everyone.

“They have their clientele, we have our clientele, and when they see us, they might want to think about coming in another day, ” Lee said. “We actually think we support each other, because people who never knew we were here but knew about them, they find out and that’s how they help build clientele for us.”

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