I’m a huge fan of French food, culture and generally all things French, so when I heard about La Creperie de Sophie, an authentic French creperie run by Frenchman Loic, situated in Cardiff’s High Street arcade, I was keen to go and try what they had to offer. I was already familiar with La Creperie de Sophie’s takeaway offering, as they’ve had a presence at various food festivals and markets that I’ve been along to, but their shop in Cardiff is their first permanent outlet, and I thought that eating crepes in an authentic setting would be much more fun!
Mr W and I decided to pop in for lunch on a Saturday, and managed to arrive just as one of the four small tables outside the creperie became free, so we took a seat and had a look at the menu. Crepe prices ranged from £4.45 up to £5.95 (cheaper if you take your crepe away), with special offers for students and a couple of other deals available too. The savoury crepes caught our eye and we both decided to go for one of the ‘gourmet’ options – I chose La Complete, which featured cheddar cheese, farmhouse ham, red onions, mixed leaves and a fried egg, all served inside a crepe. I really enjoyed this combination. The crepe was substantial enough to hold the fillings in, but light and crisp around the edges, and the flavours worked well together, with a good balance of ingredients. The yolk of the fried egg was perfectly runny, which meant it was almost like having a sauce to go with the crepe.
Mr W chose L’Italienne, which contained parma ham, mozzarella, sundried tomatoes, olives and pesto, again topped with mixed leaves. Again, the crepe itself was really good, but neither of us felt that this combination of flavours was quite right. In hindsight, perhaps ordering a hybrid of cuisines (French and Italian) was never going to work – it’s not quite as bad as the infamous chicken tikka lasagne, with the two countries at least being part of the same continent, but the Italian flavours with the crepe didn’t seem quite right. Also, the pesto was a bit overpowering in both flavour and texture – more of a drizzle would have been preferable. I’d definitely stick with more traditional flavour combinations on future visits.
With this in mind, I did find it interesting that many of the ingredients in the crepes, even the ones not immediately declaring themselves to represent other countries, didn’t seem to be particularly French on closer inspection. The cheese of choice seemed to be cheddar, and I forget exactly where the ham said that it came from, but I don’t think it was France. For me personally, this was a shame – although the savoury ingredients did seem to be good quality: tasty cheese, and thick slices of meaty ham. I do like the fact that the menu focuses on doing one thing well – there are not a multitude of alternatives to crepes, although you can choose any crepe filling and have it served with a salad instead.
As well as savoury options, there are plenty of sweet crepes to choose from too, so to finish, we shared another gourmet option, this time featuring apples, cinnamon, Breton caramel and Chantilly cream. This was really good, a lovely combination of flavours and textures. The syrupy juice from the apples, combined with the caramel sauce, is just the right texture to accompany a crepe.
Before my visit, I’d been told that the staff at La Creperie de Sophie love coffee! All the staff have been Barista trained, and the coffee is from the Welsh Coffee Company, a local business from Bridgend. Mr W and I both sampled a cappuccino, and really enjoyed our drinks – the coffee is apparently slow roasted to eliminate any bitterness for a fuller, richer taste, and this certainly showed in the flavour. The service we experienced was friendly and efficient too.
Lots of effort has clearly gone in to making La Creperie de Sophie look and feel authentic, with lovingly hand-written blackboards and gingham tablecloths on the small tables outside, which are dangerously close to each other – just like a Parisien pavement café! Being in an arcade, it also means you can enjoy a semi-al fresco dining experience, whatever the weather – although I sat with my back to passing pedestrians and didn’t find the experience altogether relaxing as there wasn’t a clear demarcation between the café area and the thoroughfare, so I got brushed against a couple of times. I don’t think it’s necessarily somewhere you’d want to linger for a long, leisurely lunch, but for a quick snack to fuel a shopping trip or as part of a quick meeting with a friend on a lunch break, I’d recommend it. I’d also recommend it for a coffee, as the coffee we tried was so good! There is a ‘crepe lounge’ in the basement of the shop, which offers additional seating. Personally, I think I will be most likely to return to get a takeaway crepe on my lunchbreak (although I don’t think I’d risk the one with the runny fried egg on board!) They’re ideal to eat on the run, are warm and satisfying, make a pleasant change from an uninspiring sandwich and might just for a moment make me feel like I’m on holiday in a little French town, rather than heading back to work in rainy Cardiff!
Although I visited La Creperie de Sophie in response to an invitation, we paid in full for our savoury crepes and drinks. Our sweet crepe was complimentary.
La Crêperie de Sophie, 16 High Street Arcade, Cardiff CF10 1BB