SJ Magazine

A Taste Of New Orleans

SJ Magazine

When long-time business owners Matthew and Melissa Grizzle decided they wanted to do something fun with their business savvy, they didn’t waste any time. The couple had always talked about opening up a little café, and decided that there was no time like the present. They wanted to put their stamp on something unique that they could throw their hearts into, a spot that would also be fun for the whole community. This is how Midtown Creperie was born.

With the closing of French restaurant Taste of Brittany last year, the Grizzles realized the loss of a niche that many had enjoyed in Stockton. Owner Daniel Peron had tackled gourmet French cuisine at his restaurant, so the Grizzles thought why not create their own version of French-influenced flavors: the French Quarter of New Orleans.

“We’re big travelers,” says Matthew,” and New Orleans has always been one of our favorite stops. We love the area, the food, and the people. We wanted to bring Café Du Monde back here, and other flavors from the area, Cajun, jazz. It’s an Americanized creperie with a French flair.

Grizzle jokes that he still gets plenty of visitors that come to the creperie and try to speak French with him. Like many of New Orleans and Paris’s street vendors, the creperie also has an open kitchen. “Really, the fun part of crepes is watching them be made,” he says.

The eatery embraces the look of the French Quarter with vintage street lamps, brick walls, outdoor café-style seating in wicker chairs, dark wood tables, and checkered tablecloth accessories. “Our 3-year old daughter, Lexi, loves the place because her favorite movie is The Princess and the Frog, set in New Orleans, if that gives you any idea,” says Grizzle, with a laugh.

The menu has both savory and sweet crepes, all filled with locally-grown fresh produce, and six crepe choices: Classic, Golden, Hungarian, Buckwheat, Chocolate, and Gluten Free. Each crepe on the menu is named after a classic New Orleans landmark or event. The Vieux Carre (French for “old square,” another name for the French Quarter) is filled with chicken and asparagus, topped with mushrooms in a crème sauce, and is even tastier with pesto added (an insider’s secret). The Neutral Ground (the grass or cement splitting the two directions of the road in New Orleans, never “median” or “island” unless you want to be a dead giveaway to locals) has asparagus, avocado, spinach, onions, and sundried tomato pesto.

Our favorite sweet crepe, the Dixieland (named for New Orleans Dixieland jazz), is a heavenly concoction of market-fresh strawberries, a sweet crème filling, and Ghirardelli chocolate sauce, served with whipped cream. The beignets, New Orleans-style puffed doughnuts made famous by Café Du Monde, are another standout, topped with powdered sugar and served with your choice of Ghirardelli caramel or chocolate dipping sauce. The Cajun shrimp salad offers up perfectly seasoned and sautéed seafood with orange segments, avocado, and a cilantro lime vinaigrette.

Midtown also has a full espresso bar with local San Francisco Graffeo coffee, and is one of the only places in San Joaquin to serve local Ghirardelli chocolate products in their crepes and coffees. “We really try to stay local as much as possible,” says Grizzle. “We want to show off all our fresh ingredients, and we get all of our produce fresh and local daily.”

Midtown Creperie also benefits from the staff that came over from Taste of Brittany: server and local favorite Linda Caprini, executive chef Michael Adams, and sous chef Jesus Rodriguez. Grizzle explains that they were like a family at Taste of Brittany, and bringing such a strong team into his restaurant was a slam dunk.

Going forward, Midtown Creperie will be offering beer and wine; more New Orleans favorites like muffaletta, shrimp po’ boys, gumbo, and jambalaya; possibly a Champagne brunch; and live jazz and events throughout the year, especially for New Orleans-centric celebrations like Mardi Gras.

“We purposely didn’t tell a whole lot of people about the creperie at first so that we could work out the kinks,” says Grizzle, “but they came anyway, and they love it. When you step in, you just don’t feel like you’re in Stockton anymore. It’s fun.”

~Published In The October 2010 Edition Of San Joaquin Magazine~