A Cafe

Food: 3 stars

Service: 2 1/2 stars

Ambience: 2 stars

Price: $$

Address: 2018 Broadway St., Boulder

Contact: 303-444-4191 or crepesalacarts.com/locations

Hours: Lunch, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday; dinner, 4 p.m.-close Monday-Saturday; brunch, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday-Sunday

Credit cards: Accepted

Noise: Low

Our server at A Cafe had a difficult time suggesting a favorite crepe from the dozen or so savory pancake choices on the menu.

First, he guided us toward the classic Crepe Monsieur, telling us we couldn't possibly go wrong with the French ham and gruyere cheese favorite. Then, with a dramatic pause accompanied by a look of apprehension and a caress of his imaginary chin beard, he pointed instead to the Florentine Chicken Crepe, suggesting it would be an absolute shame to miss the chef's delectable cream sauce.

Though he had our mouths watering in anticipation, he switched gears again and spent the next minute waffling between the Florentine and the Neo Seoul, an eclectic crepe package filled with shredded barbeque pork and kimchi.

It's clear that A Cafe is trying to put a fresh spin on an old menu favorite. Inventive and unique crepe fillings, along with enticing baguette sandwiches and Parisian-inspired starters, pepper the new and improved menu at A Cafe, formerly Arlene's Creperie & Bistro and, before that, Crepes a la Carte on Broadway in Boulder.

Along with the menu revamp, you'll find sweeping changes inside A Cafe.

For those who don’t want crepes, A Cafe has other offerings, such as this Bahn Mi -- roast pork, ginger giardiniera, fresh herbs and sriracha aioli.
For those who don't want crepes, A Cafe has other offerings, such as this Bahn Mi -- roast pork, ginger giardiniera, fresh herbs and sriracha aioli. (Jessica Cuneo/For the Camera)

An ambitious makeover has transformed the once-nondescript crepe joint into a quaint, cozy, Parisian-style cafe complete with chandeliers, exposed brick, hobnail-framed mirrors and woven rattan bistro armchairs. It's now the type of place you'd bring a date, friends or family on a special occasion or a posse of lunching ladies, though they do also serve dinner. Self-confident men unafraid to eat quiche or, in this case, crepes would find plenty to like here, too.

One look at our first non-crepe selection from the lunch menu, the Pawley's BLT, and we knew Crepes a la Carte had come a long way from its crepe-shack roots. A crusty baton of French baguette is slathered with creamy pimiento cheese on both sides of the bread, then topped with crisp applewood-smoked bacon and sliced, fried-green tomato. Leaves of baby kale add a pleasantly bitter bite, cleansing your palate from the richness of the cheese and bacon. House-fried potato chips add a textural complement, though you could opt for a side salad instead.

One bite of the Florentine Chicken Crepe brings the delicate richness of sweet cream. Is that a hint of nutmeg your tongue detects? Another bite uncovers the nuttiness of melted Gruyere grounded by the earthiness of sauteed shitakes. Verdant green spinach, moist pan-seared chicken and caramelized red onion pokes out from between the Cyclopean-sized, folded crepe. A simple field green salad coated with a balanced brown sugar balsamic vinaigrette is served alongside.

The Orchard crepe isn't rolled but, rather, gift-wrapped into a neat, crisp package filled and topped with crumbled fennel sausage, sauteed sweet leeks, tart chunks of Granny Smith apples and chevre. Christened lightly with a sprinkle of powdered sugar to enhance the sweet fennel and apple flavors, this crepe is perfect when you can't decide between sweet and savory.

The "Raspberry Dream" crepe at A Cafe includes dark chocolate, fresh raspberries and Chantilly cream.
The "Raspberry Dream" crepe at A Cafe includes dark chocolate, fresh raspberries and Chantilly cream. (Jessica Cuneo/For the Camera)

If you're saving your sweets for dessert, consider instead the Neo Seoul crepe. Korean ingredients dominate this intensely flavored parcel of pancake perfection. A garlic sesame crepe is overstuffed with tender, succulent shreds of barbeque pork and Korean kimchi, then topped with egg scrambles and a light drizzle of chili oil. It's nothing short of delicious.

A reset of silverware and a consult with the friendly server and we were ready to sip coffee and select our sweet crepe. Decisions, decisions! A dozen and a half options confuse and confound; in the end, we decided simplest was best. Rather than ordering a monstrosity of a crepe they call "The French Monkey" -- it consists of dark chocolate, peanut butter, bananas and banana liqueur -- we tried the basic Lemon Souffle Crepe. The brightness of fresh lemon offset the eggy crepe perfectly, as did a few fork tines full of fresh chantilly cream scooped from the side of the plate and a well-pulled shot of espresso.

A Cafe offers various fillings on its crepe menu, some more exotic than others. From the simplest savory -- ham and cheese or sweet, plain sugar -- to the creative Neo Seoul, everyone is bound to find something to their liking. Heck, they even have gluten-free crepe batter, so bring your allergic friends.

Prices range from $5 for plain sugar to $12 for the Florentine Chicken with side salad. The list of predominantly French wines is concise yet varied and is interesting, whether by the glass or bottle. Draft and bottled Avery Brewing beers are featured, including "The Reverend," and the menu asks that you designate a driver after consuming this high-alcohol bomber.

After sampling A Cafe's wares, it's easy to see why the server had such a difficult time helping us whittle our selections. Everything we tasted was fantastic. Kudos to the team at A Cafe for not only transforming the crepe, a tired and dated menu item, into current and creative cuisine but also for metamorphosing their old restaurant concept into a fresh, unique and valuable addition to the Boulder restaurant landscape.