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Posted on Wed, May 1, 2013 : 10:47 a.m.

What Crepe? offers lots of tasty variations on its namesake dish

By Julie Halpert

The owners of what crepe? in Birmingham and Royal Oak decided to launch their third restaurant in Ann Arbor, since "it was a great area for a great product," said manager Dennis Williams. "There's nothing like it here."

What crepe? opened Feb. 24. The most striking element is the dramatic, awe-inspiring transformation of the space. This was formerly home to a short-lived restaurant called Squares, a plain, open space that served food cafeteria-style.

It is impossible to recognize it now. This welcoming space has the look and feel of a French bistro, with an eclectic mix of design. Gone is the cafeteria setup. Instead, this is an elegant yet casual sit-down restaurant, with hardwood floors, brick red walls and crystal chandeliers.

White paper covers the black tables, while a large glass pitcher of water with no ice, European style, is there to refill the tiny glasses provided. There are an eclectic mix of knickknacks throughout, including a bookshelf with French cookbooks. Behind the bar, a large flat-screen television plays classic movies, while French cafe music serenades brunch diners. Glass is all that separates customers from the kitchen, so you can watch the chefs prepare the crepes.


What crepe?
214 E. Liberty St., Ann Arbor
  • Hours: Sunday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday, closed. Tuesday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m.-11 p.m.
  • Plastic: Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover.
  • Liquor: Yes.
  • Prices: Moderate. Entree crepes range from $12 to $16.
  • Noise level: Moderate
  • Wheelchair access: Yes
From the moment you sit down, you are transported to a place with a cool, sophisticated feel. And that's even before taking a bite of the food. What crepe? serves what the name implies. Aside from some appetizers, soup and salads, crepes are the only focus.

There are two dozen "savory" crepes, main-course dishes, including vegan and gluten-free options, as well as a dozen sweet dessert crepes. You can choose from the options on the menu or build your own crepe, selecting from meat, seafood, cheese, sauce and veggie categories.

We started with drinks and I opted for the latte. It was frothy, full-bodied and provided a perfect amount of caffeine; on my next visit, the cappuccino I ordered was of the same high quality.

While the dessert crepes are paper-thin, served the traditional way, the main-course crepes provide a filling entree. On my first visit, I ordered the deja vu crepe. It was enormous, with a sculpture-like appearance. The crepe was stuffed with fresh smoked salmon, Swiss cheese and asparagus, accented with a slightly spicy Hollandaise sauce. The flavors blended well for a rich, filling offering.

I decided to order the chicken truffle crepe the second time around, adding a blend of shiitake, oyster, cremini and button mushrooms, and it was wonderful. The chicken was marinated in a delicious sauce (a house recipe the manager would not reveal), and it combined well with the melted Swiss cheese and fresh spinach. The truffle zip, a mix of soy sauce, butter and truffle oil, nicely accented the crepe.

The pan-seared tofu, red onion, avocado, tomatoes, spinach and feta in the Old Woodward crepe individually tasted fine, but this dish lacked a sauce to tie the ingredients together.

Basic side dishes here are a cut above. The scrambled eggs were thick and moist, while the bacon was outstanding. With a sugary maple flavoring, this was far better than the thin strips served at many restaurants. The pieces were so thick they had to be cut with a fork and knife.

The dessert crepes also were artfully presented, with a mountain of whipped cream and chocolate drizzled on top. They tasted as good as they looked. My daughter got her day off to a sugary start with The Patriot, in which creamy vanilla ice cream was tucked inside a crepe and surrounded by fresh bananas, blueberries and strawberries. A layer of nutella added more sweetness, as did the homemade whipped cream.

I thought this was a sinful concoction until I tasted the even richer What? Chocolate Eclair, which also included shaved white chocolate and vanilla bean white custard. It was beyond decadent, a splurge for anyone's sweet tooth.

The mixed berry was a mix of raspberries, strawberries and blackberries, served in a slightly tart raspberry sauce, also a great offering. We also tried the s'more, in which graham cracker crumbs and chocolate sauce were served over a crepe filled with marshmallow and peanut butter. I thought the peanut butter was a bit overpowering and could be eliminated, especially since the spread isn't part of a traditional s'more.

On our second visit, on a weekend night, the restaurant had an entirely different vibe. Instead of jazz, Motown played on the speakers and patrons sipped cocktails instead of coffee.

We started with the savory appetizer flight, which came with three different spreads and was served with slightly sweet "crispies," resembling flat, unsalted chips. The artichoke dip was better than the typically mayonnaise-laden dish. It had a broth-like consistency and contained delicious chunks of artichokes. The salmon pate had a dense taste and was thick and creamy, while the queso offered a spicier option. I appreciated the way these different spreads complemented each other, though I think they would have been better served with crusty French bread instead of the crispies. I didn't much care for the soup of the day, spinach feta, which had a watery broth and was overly salty.

I want to give a special shout-out to our server on our first visit, Phill, who had a welcoming and contagious enthusiasm. After he checked in on us and asked our opinion of our meals, and we told him that our food was delicious, he responded with genuine pleasure. On our second visit, our server was quieter and seemed a bit nervous, though she was nonetheless pleasant. Though our entrees were delivered promptly on both visits, we needed to wait longer for the dessert crepes the second time.

Premium food comes at premium prices. The most basic dessert crepe is $8, while many of the savory crepes are $12, but I felt the quality justified the price.

On both our visits, this place was bustling. That doesn't surprise me. If you're a crepe lover, or even someone who just likes crepes, you'll be happy for this new addition to the Ann Arbor dining scene.

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Julie Halpert reviews restaurants for



Thu, May 2, 2013 : 1:28 p.m.

I went to What Crepe? For brunch a few Sundays ago with a group of friends - we had a reservation for 7 at a set time, so no waiting. The restaurant was dimly lit, And the tall table with half booth, half tall chair seating was strange. The food, while very good, was a bit overpriced for what it was. I expected to pay more than I would at Benny's (which I like better than any other greasy spoon or coney in SE MI), but less than I would for breakfast at Zingerman's (it seemed comparable). What turned me off was that you had to pay more when you wanted to remove the meat from a dish - not cool for vegetarians! The female waitress, although friendly, seemed to completely ignore a male friend in the group (who is really too nice sometimes). She had to be asked 3 times to bring the OJ he ordered - once by him - where he got a paltry excuse - and twice by others of us at the table. Then when we put in the food order - she completely failed to put in his order (which we found out when all our food came out and his didn't)! What's worse, is he asked for no whipped cream, and of course it had it when it came out. We were going to wait for him to get his food before eating, but he told us not to. What's worse, is the waitress mumbled sorry, and then proceeded to charge him full price for his meal - which he paid because he's too nice to complain. The food was tasty, but I get better service at Benny's. I'm completely avoiding this place in the future.


Thu, May 2, 2013 : 11:12 a.m.

I think Ryan had a $16 crepe here. Prices in A2 restaurants are astounding. And this is one of the most forced, gushing reviews I've seen. Kind of ridiculous. I love how tearing out the cafeteria style fixtures and other normal renovations are awe inspiring and transport you to a place of transcendant cool sophisticated perfect supreme orgasmic intense sensuous classy luxuriousness. I'm afraid to go in here in case it's the Matrix. What Red Pill?

Jack Gladney

Thu, May 2, 2013 : 6:34 a.m.

When we dined at What Crepe, my chai latte was served with only 20 mg of caffeine. It was not very satisfying. When brought to the attention of our attentive and friendly server, she willing replaced it with one that contained 55 mg. It was heavenly as 55 mg of caffeine perfectly complimented my duck confit with chanterelle mushrooms and North Albanian goat cheese crepe. Oh, yes friends. We most certainly shall make a return visit to this bistro of divine culinary concoctions. Sorry Paris, for one of your charms has now lost some of its luster.


Wed, May 1, 2013 : 8:39 p.m.

I'm always looking for new places with great coffee drinks. Thanks!


Wed, May 1, 2013 : 4:15 p.m.

My experience was nothing like PBQueen's. And I agree with the writer about the quality justifying the price here--not that I like to pay more but the crepes are delicious and the service was great the two times we've gone thus far. We're taking a friend on Thursday for her birthday. You can go with us if you want to try again PB :-)

Peter Eckstein

Wed, May 1, 2013 : 3:13 p.m.

"A perfect amount of caffeine"? I'd call that one gush too many.


Wed, May 1, 2013 : 3:13 p.m.

I wish I could comment on the food but we walked out. This past Saturday we decided to try What Crepe? Downtown was crowded and we found a short line at the door. When I asked how long the wait would be, two employees, not sure their roles, told me that they needed to walk around the restaurant in order to figure out the wait time (?). They both walked through it, twice, while I stood by the door and looked at the empty tables. Finally, they returned to tell me that it would be 15-20 minutes. I asked about the empty tables (about eight seats) and was told that they were being held for a reservation. I asked about the empty bar stools, and suddenly the hostess remembered that those were first come, first served! Okay, great. We sat down, waited 10 minutes while we were ignored, and finally left. We then had a stellar meal and great service at Jerusalem Garden.


Thu, May 2, 2013 : 5:20 p.m.

I had a similar experience. I took my mother to What Crepe? to give it a try, and as we stood at the entrance, we were ignored by two host-looking people. I tried to get their attention to see if we could be seated, but it seemed too much of a hassle and after 5 minutes of waiting for someone to acknowledge us, we had a lovely lunch at Jerusalem Garden.