Road Trip: Au Bon Lieu – Hershey

au-bon-lieu

About once a year, Julie and I find ourselves in Hershey for a quick getaway.

We don’t go to the park (too hot, too crowded), but find plenty of other things to do — a Paul McCartney concert, for instance.

By skipping Hersheypark, it also gives us a chance to visit the downtown area and discover new dining spots. On this trip, we found Hershey’s only French creperie, Au Bon Lieu.

au-bon-lieu-chef

Au Bon Lieu is not easy to find. It’s set back from the road, almost hidden behind the Chocolate Avenue Grill.

Even after finding the parking lot, we weren’t sure we were in the right place. The creperie shares the parking lot with the much larger, Phillip Arthur’s Cafe, and the only thing to distinguish it is the stained glass Eiffel Tower in the window.

au-bon-lieu-julie

It’s a small shop, maybe 10 tables total (a few of them were pushed together for a large group). The walls are beautifully painted, the one behind us sporting a large Eiffel Tower on a pink and purple background.

We grabbed a table in the back corner of the room beneath a speaker playing a mix of Beatles and Wings songs, this being the day after Paul McCartney’s concert at the Hersheypark Stadium.

au-bon-lieu-chalk

With only two crepe griddles, wait times can vary depending on the number of customers. But Au Bon Lieu helps you pass the time. On every table is a small dish, filled with pieces of chalk. Guests are encouraged to doodle as they wait for the crepes.

Each of the menu items are numbered 1-95, and we were asked to write our own orders on the pad while the chef worked the grill for the other guests who were already in the queue. The number system is a little deceiving, however, as there are “only” about 50 options.

I went sweet. Julie went savory.

au-bon-lieu-strawberry-dark-chocolate-crepe

My sweet crepe included Belgian dark chocolate (sorry, Hershey) inside with fresh strawberries and powdered sugar on top.

While making the crepe, the chef took a large block of chocolate and pressed it on the crepe, spreading it around as it melted. He invited Julie to come over and taste a spoonful of the chocolate, and she was more than happy to indulge.

The presentation is absolutely stunning. It’s in sharp contrast to the room, which was more than a little unorganized.

Our “server,” a friend of the chef who was just helping out, thought the sweet crepe was going to Julie and had the chef put a little heart on it (a nice touch for all of the ladies). Usually, men would get the Batman symbol.

It tasted as good as it looked. The dark chocolate was thick and semi-sweet. There may be nothing better than warm, melted dark chocolate. The strawberries were fresh and sweet. It was a perfect sugary start to the morning.

au-bon-lieu-egg-and-cheese-crepe

Julie’s savory crepe featured mozzarella cheese inside and an egg on top (plus a piece of lettuce for garnish). She compared it to a lighter version of an egg sandwich, with the crepe replacing the bagel or English muffin.

Her crepe was a little heavier than mine, though both were enough to get us through the morning. And for the two of us, it was only $15 for two crepes and our two drinks.

For Julie and I, our yearly road trip to Hershey was a memorable one. And Au Bon Lieu was a memorable meal.

It was a sweet day, and we didn’t even visit the park.

Au Bon Lieu
110 W. Chocolate Ave
Hershey, PA 17033

Au Bon Lieu Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Breakfast & Brunch Cafes & Coffeeshops Reviews

Taste of Crepes

taste-of-crepes

(Editor’s Note: Taste of Crepes was sold in Spring 2019. We have not visited since the ownership change)

Variety is the spice of life.

Or so it has been said. When it comes to restaurants, a good variety is important because you never want to limit your customer base.

So it seems odd to find a Berks County restaurant whose menu is made up entirely of crepes – thin, filled pancakes that are popular in France. Where is the variety in that?

But with 35 different flavors available everyday, Taste of Crepes is all about variety.

Like any good Parisian bistro, Taste of Crepes has limited seating inside, with al fresco dining along the sidewalk. But instead of metal bistro seats, the outside furniture is all wicker.

This is Berks County after all.

Many of West Reading’s restaurants have been shoe-horned into their locations, and Taste of Crepes is no exception. What limited seating can be found inside – all tables for two except one four-seater crammed in the corner – places diners in close proximity to one another.

Still, Taste of Crepes manages to feel cozy, not crowded. Maybe it’s the wallpaper, which paints a picture of a Parisian street scene around you. Or maybe it was because so many were choosing to take their meals outside on such a beautiful summer morning.

Behind the counter, crepes sizzle atop the griddle. Unfolded with the filling layered on top, the crepes look like large pizzas waiting for the oven. Instead, the crepe will be folded over to trap all of the flavors inside.

Taste of Crepes is doing crepes three ways – sweet, savory and breakfast. Sweets include hot apple pie (apples, cinnamon, caramel and ice cream) and sweet and salty pretzel (sweet cream cheese, Nutella, ground pretzel, caramel and ice cream). Savories feature a variety of meat and vegetable combinations like the turkey Cali (mozzarella, turkey, red pepper, lettuce, tomato and ranch) and big boy bites (mozzarella, ham, lettuce, bacon, turkey, spicy ranch and Dijon mustard).

The breakfast crepes include a little of both, with sweet variations like cinnamon, maple, and my choice, fresh fruit.

fresh-fruit-crepe-taste-of-crepes

Filled with bananas, strawberries, blueberries and whipped cream, the fresh fruit crepe works just as well for dessert as it does for breakfast. The crepe is folded in a giant “U,” garnished with more berries and dusted with powdered sugar.

As you start into it, the first bites are all bananas, then come the strawberries, and finally the blueberries. The three converge in the center where they have been folded together. The crepe, itself, is light and airy, like a razor-thin pancake.

The crepes are thin enough to allow the flavors of the filling to shine through, but thick enough that they don’t get lost, creating a complete dish that is filling enough for breakfast or lunch.

bacon-crepe-taste-of-crepes

On the savory end of the breakfast crepes is the bacon crepe, stuffed with crispy bacon, two eggs and mozzarella. Similar to a breakfast pizza, but not as heavy, the bacon and eggs were cooked right on top of the crepe before it was folded together. Combined, it was a classy, yet hearty start to the day.

Crepes range in price from less than $4 for a cinnamon crepe up to $10 for the smoked salmon, but most fall between $5-8 so that you don’t have to feel guilty about spending an extra dollar to add a scoop of ice cream to your crepe (though some of the sweet crepes already include it). It’s the only actual side item that you can order, unless you count the smoothies, iced lattes and root beer float available on the beverage menu.

Taste of Crepes may be small, but its menu is anything but simple. I never would have guessed their French pancakes could be so versatile as to build an entire menu around them.

Yet this is one restaurant that certainly has brought variety of Berks County.

BCE Rating
Food: Very Good
Service: Good
Ambiance: Very Good
Price: Very Reasonable

Taste of Crepes
617 Penn Ave
West Reading, PA 19611

Taste of Crepes on Urbanspoon

Breakfast & Brunch Reviews