109, rue Vieille du Temple, in the 3rd Arrondissement.
01 42 72 13 77. Wed–Sat, noon–11 p.m. Sun, noon–10 p.m.
Every time I visit this place and bite into one of their savory buckwheat galettes, nutty and crisp on the edges, I kick myself for not eating there more often.
“Breizh” means “Brittany” in the Breton language (and it is a language, not a dialect of French), and the menu here is a culinary treasure chest of the region. Oysters from the coast, charcuterie from the land, cider from the apple trees and, of course, butter. The twist is that there is a Far Eastern influence on this food from western France: owner Bertrand Larcher’s wife is Japanese, and they have multiple locations there. At first Breizh seems straightforwardly charming, with wood-paneled walls and glass doors that open to the sidewalk like any corner restaurant in Paris. But then you notice the Pop art on the walls; read the words “wasabi,” “yuzu” and “matcha” on the menu; see the way the oysters are laid out on their salt piles; notice how the filling is arranged in your crêpe; and see the appetizer galettes, filled and rolled up and sliced, served “en roll.” It’s subtle, but the Japanese influence is there.
Ultimately what makes Breizh great is the quality of the ingredients. Even if you order your galette (a savory crêpe made with buckwheat) with nothing but butter, the butter is from Bordier. In your complète, the egg is organic, and the cheese is a raw-milk Petit Savoyard. The chocolate on your sweet crêpe is Valrhona, of course.
I ordered the printanière (12.50 euros) from the specials board; it featured white asparagus along with smoked duck breast thinly sliced, and cheese. The filling was great, but it’s the actual galette, framing everything perfectly, that makes the dish, in the same way that a good crust makes a pizza. In general, vegetarians (though perhaps not vegans) will be happy here, as will families. There are always some children in the dining room, but this isn’t a bustling romper room. There is a seriousness, and a quality, here that makes adults very happy. Just ask the couple having a leisurely lunch feast of oysters the other day.
The beverage of choice is cider, mostly organic from small producers, and the offerings range from dry and sharp to sweet and floral—all less expensive than most wines. Our amiable server helped us choose one.
For dessert, I’m not sure it gets better than a tender crêpe drizzled with salted butter caramel . . . unless you add ice cream. There are chocolate options, too, as well as seasonal fruit toppings. And one last sweet note: wrapped caramels come with the check.
In a nutshell: Breizh Café’s catchphrase is “la crêpe autrement” (“the crêpe done differently”), and they aren’t kidding.
Price check: With savory main-course galettes running from 3.80 to 14 euros, there is something for every budget here.
If you like crêpes but not “autrement,” visit Josselin for old-school charm:
Crêperie de Josselin
67, rue du Montparnasse, in the 14th.
01 43 20 93 50. Closed Mon.