“No cheese makes me a little sad, but it’s not as bad as no cream,” Marina says to me, bringing me the mushroom and egg-filled crêpe I ordered sans fromage (without cheese in French). It was a little before noon, the rush of the Tuesday-brunch madness not quite visible yet.
Marina is the owner of Le Petit Café, located on the outskirts of downtown Bloomington: somewhere IU students might miss because of its distance from the campus walls.
I’m here because I got a taste of the delicious, unique crêpes offered at Le Petit Café while wandering through the streets near the Bloomington farmers’ market on a Saturday. I ordered a crêpe and hot chocolate and even though it was an overload of sweetness, I enjoyed every single bite of the delicious nutella-filled pancake.
There are two parts to the café: one is a window that opens up when the farmers’ market is going on and the other is the cozy inside of the sit-down restaurant. This window to the kitchen is a literal hole in the wall. People talk about places being underground or gems, but this place took the metaphor to a whole other level because you could miss it if you weren’t paying attention.
The store has a sign on the main entrance, but you could easily pass by the kitchen without a second glance. This is what the side of the building looks like (where the kitchen is):
It’s clear that Le Petit Café is unique and charming because of its interior design, but what makes this place even more special, as I learned from sitting down and ordering brunch, is the presence and the genuine warm-heartedness of the owner of the store.
Marina and her husband, Patrick, have owned this French-style restaurant for 37 years, and the place has now expanded – the garage that used to be next door now boasts itself as a spacious eating area.
“It’s a romantic place,” my server tells me, and I have to agree. The tables are spaced intimately apart from one another, and with the French-style paintings, warm lighting, wooden walls upon entry, and big glass windows that let in a breeze on warm days, it’s easy to fall in love with the authenticity of this small French restaurant.
Tuesdays are a special day at Le Petit Café, because Tuesday brunch means custom-made crêpes, your choice of soup or salad, and bread all for under $7. Plus, Tuesdays and brunch deals are definitely a package you don’t want to miss; I mean think about it: with the middle of the week looming before you and the stress of Mondays over with, Tuesdays are the perfect time to take a break and catch up with friends.
For my Tuesday brunch I ordered a large crêpe stuffed with mushrooms and egg, along with lentil soup (soups vary based on the day). The meal starts off with warm, toasted bread, followed by your chosen soup or salad, and then the crêpe, which is served to you personally by the owner.
Still feeling hungry after all this food (yo girls’ got an appetite okay), I decided that yes, I would like some dessert. Sweetbread pudding with raisins? If you insist. The gooey cream mixed with the texture of the soft, warm breading was incredible. And, as I learned upon scooping the last bits into my mouth, there was pear in it.
But pear-infused desserts aren’t the only unique part about Le Petit Café. “We’re mostly known for our chicken and our steak,” Marina tells me with a mischievous look in her eyes, “we use a special sauce.”
The restaurant fills up on Valentine’s Day (only four months away!!) and graduation, but the atmosphere is perfect for a special date night, whenever the rents come to town, and especially on Tuesdays for a $6.45 custom-styled crêpe brunch.