There was a time when just hearing the word “brunch” would make me drool, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who has stayed up all night on Saturday Googling the best brunch spots in the city. But as we all know, brunch is becoming a bit of a tired foodie cliché. Adding lobster and kale to our eggs Benedict or ricotta cheese to our pancakes may raise prices, but it’s not enough to raise eyebrows anymore. But then I went to Crêperie Saint-Germain. And I have to admit, brunch reclaimed a special place in my heart.
A sister store to Bistro Bordeaux and the newly opened Patisserie Coralie, Crêperie Saint-Germain is Pascal Berthoumieux’s second outpost in Evanston, offering authentic, down-to-earth French cuisine at a student-friendly price.
As soon as you walk in, you are immersed in the soothing, homey atmosphere that resembles the “casual elegance” of a Parisian café — elegant enough to be classy, but not so overdone that it will steer away those who just wanted a nice brunch. The restaurant is very small, which means that you might be sitting awkwardly close to the party next to you. Don’t worry, any feelings of discomfort and impatience will subside the moment your crêpes hit the table.
The ultimate conundrum of sweet vs. savory is made all the more difficult here. The good news is, if you have a huge sweet tooth like me, you cannot go wrong with their 100% organic buckwheat flour crêpes. The owner, Pascal, prides himself on offering crêpes that are much more sophisticated than those of “lesser” crêperies.
If you believe Nutella is your one and only soulmate, the Marquis will reaffirm that belief. Cool, freshly whipped dark chocolate mousse, warm, chunky berry compote and rich, homemade white chocolate sauce all brilliantly tucked inside a thin layer of chocolate crêpe are on a totally different level. You’ll experience a foodie high when you slice through the crêpe and see the chocolate mousse ooze out, adding coolness, moisture and sweetness to perfectly balance the warmth and the semisweet taste of the crêpe.
Not to be dramatic, but their pain perdu changed my life. This surprisingly light and refreshing dish consists of two slices of brioche bread stuffed with housemade vanilla creme and topped with berry compote. The bread itself is a wealth of buttery goodness and, when paired with the milkiness from the creme and the tartness from the compote, it is a recipe for the ultimate foodgasm.
Their croque-madame, a French sandwich made with toasted bread, ham, cheese, Béchamel and a sunny-side up egg, is a similarly delightful experience — if you eat it right. Let the egg yolk run and coat the entire sandwich with its silky, rich texture, but eat it fast before the ooey gooey cheese solidifies. If you think you know what ham, cheese and egg on toast tastes like, you are horribly mistaken. The Béchamel sauce is the game-changer here. It adds a ton of creaminess to the sandwich that it will melt in your mouth, leaving a pleasing, buttery aftertaste. If this isn’t enough calories for you, you can also pair it up with their Pomme Frites a la Graisse de Boeuf, or beef tallow French fries, which are no more expensive than a box of fries from McDonald’s.
Trust me — brunch doesn’t get any better than this.
Location: 1512 Sherman Ave, Evanston, IL 60201
Hours of Operation: Mon: Closed, Tue-Sat: 11:30am-9pm, Sun: 10:30am-9pm