Geneva Crêpe Café
One of my favourite cities to visit in Europe is Paris. Known for its magnificent architecture and rich history, its delicious cuisine has become accessible to the novice chef, thanks to Julia Child. When I saw that Geneva Crêpe Café’s tagline is, “A taste of Paris in the heart of Kingston,” I was excited to check it out, practice my French, and sample a crêpe or two.
Owned by Kingstonians, the Café specializes in crêpes, paninis, and speciality coffees. It is a partner in the Local Food/Local Chef initiative, which means that they regularly feature locally grown and raised items on their daily menus. The restaurant itself has a bright and cheery atmosphere with lots of seating and a large outdoor patio. With its central downtown location at the corner of Princess and Clergy, it is the perfect place for a study date or a quick bite to eat while shopping downtown.
Impressed by the selection of speciality coffees the menu boosts, we decided to skip the wine (all Ontario wines, I will note), and go straight for the caffeine.
My partner, Curtis, ordered the cafe au lait (<$5), a French coffee, where the milk is added hot rather than cold or at room temperature. It came in a huge mug, sure to satisfy any caffeine addict and he said the coffee was rich, but not overpowering. I was in the mood for something a little different and ordered the almond latte (<$5), steamed milk with almond extract, chocolate, coconut and espresso. I found the latte a tad too sweet for my taste, so I’d probably opt for something else next time. For our mains, we decided to try a few crêpes. Traditionally, a crêpe is a type of very thin pancake made out of wheat flour that is cooked on a flat, circular hotplate. According to worldofcrêpes.com, the crêpe originated in Brittany, the northwest corner of France, around the 15th century. The French term “crêpe,” comes from the Latin term “crispus,” which explains its flat, almost crisp texture. Arguably the national food of France, the crêpe is celebrated each February 2nd on what is now known as “National Crêpe Day.” However, these thin pancakes have gained popularity all over the world. Geneva Crêpe Café serves a variety of savoury and sweet crêpes, and any of these can be made with gluten-free buckwheat flour if requested.
We shared the crêpe of the day, the Tuscany, stuffed with local grain-fed chicken, Italian sausage, mushrooms, tomatoes, red peppers, spinach, basil pesto and tossed in a parmesan cream sauce with a side salad of mixed greens, balsamic vinaigrette, goat cheese and red pepper for $16. The salad was light and fresh, its tangy dressing mellowed by the sprinkle of cheese. The crêpe itself had a perfect texture: slightly-crispy on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside with a fresh and tasty filling. I only wish the crêpe contained a bit more of the filling, as I found it to be a little modest for a dinner portion.
We also shared their signature crêpe, the Bombay, filled with local grain-fed chicken mixed with curry, cranberries, coconut, almonds, apple, celery and mayo for $14. The plate was expertly presented and quite beautiful to look at. The crêpe was both savoury and sweet at the same time, and the celery and apple provided a nice crunchy texture. The Bombay was served with a spiced fruit jam (apricot?) that complimented the curry particularly well. While I really enjoyed it, I found the $14 price tag to be a little steep for just the crepe. I wish it came with a side salad, or even a few pieces of fruit or veggies, as is often the case at other crêperies I have visited in Montreal and Toronto.
Venturing from savoury to sweet, for dessert we opted for the True Canadian, a crêpe filled with apple, Canadian cheddar, cinnamon, sugar and maple syrup for $9. It was a lovely end to the meal. The fresh cut apple, combined with the melted, gooey cheddar and sweet crêpe, were reminiscent of apple pie topped with a slice of cheddar, but more delicate. I really enjoyed this dish and I appreciated that the owner, Genevieve, approached us at the end of the meal to see how everything was.
In sum, Geneva Crêpe Café effectively fills a niche for France’s most popular food in Kingston. Julia Child may have made French cuisine accessible to novice chefs, but this Café is certainly professional. While I believe that all of the pricier savoury crêpes would be complimented with a side of some sort, I definitely appreciate that everything is made fresh to order and that they use only the finest ingredients. If French food isn’t your thing, as a coffee bistro, it has a nice ambiance and character that you won’t find at some of the chain establishments further down Princess.
12 thoughts on “Geneva Crêpe Café”
I'm not big into crepes but this review and these pics are making my mouth water. Will definitely have to head down there.
Had lunch and was very impressed with the quality of the food. Will return for sure
As far as specialty restaurants go, this is probably one of the best in Kingston. The food is good, the coffee is good, they don't slouch on the presentation, and I really like the way the whole restaurant is bathed in natural light. I've been there a few times and I don't think they've ever had the overhead lights on.
If you're reading this and you haven't been there, go! It's a great local business that, in my opinion, deserves more attention from Kingstonians than it gets.
I would agree with the reviewer, that though the food is wonderfully prepared and beautifully presented; you are certainly paying for quality vs. quantity. Each time I have eaten here my taste buds were delighted but I have not left feeling satisfied – stomachly speaking. Though I am happy to pay for quality – the steep prices with the limited amount of food – quality or otherwise, just doesn't add up for me. I'll stick to their sweet crêpes – though more expensive than most dessert places downtown, it seems easier to stomach the price of these. With dessert I don't need to be filled up – though having lunch or dinner, it is something I am looking for.
Sounds perfect to me. I am rather fed up with the idea that good value in food is all about portion size – look at the Whig-Standard's restaurant 'criticism' for a good (bad) example. It's no wonder there's an obesity epidemic. Both to be healthier and to learn to appreciate quality food, many people would benefit from eating a little less.
Word above…couldn't agree more. Having lost over 80 lbs and counting, and having maintained that loss, I can personally tell you that portion distortion is a significant contributing factor to the obesity issue. More food for less cost at a restaurant is generally a bad sign IMHO…:)
Re: Flying_Monkeys comment regarding "the idea that good value in food is all about portion size" it should be noted that the reviewer went to lengths to discuss the quality of the food. When I read reviews, I DO want to get an idea of quantity, too, however. Obesity is certainly epidemic, yet, having eaten at this restaurant and thinking that the crepes were wonderful, I will echo the reviewer's comment that vegetables on the side would have helped as well as be appropriate for the cost.
I know the reviewer discussed the quality of the food, that's one of the reasons why, I said it sounded perfect… I was comparing this approach with the more general approach (represented in this case by the Whig).
Well, went there today! Purchased a Groupon on the basis of this review. Husband and I biked the 15km downtown to enjoy an afternoon brunch, was seated (plenty of room available), and presented our Groupon. Only to be told that we didn't read it carefully enough — we had to come back after 4pm and we needed a reservation. Sigh. We were then given the choice of making a reservation and returning, ordering off the menu and not using the Groupon, or leaving. I know that I didn't read the Groupon carefully enough. However, one would THINK that a little…flexibility…would have been appreciated? It was only a matter of a few hours (there before noon) in a restaurant that had plenty of space for 2 customers who had clearly biked in to enjoy the restaurant. And in a small town where businesses rely on word-of-mouth and hospitality to make ends meet with repeat customers, it would have been greatly appreciated if a one-time exception had been made, especially since there were a number of seats available and we apologized for not reading but stated that we had bicycled over an hour to come specifically to their establishment (we had no other business downtown today!). Had the place been packed, with a lineup, we would have understood completely. We didn't ask for an exception — I just thought it would have been nice had one been offered, instead of the option to order or leave. Kind of left a bad taste in my mouth and I haven't even eaten there yet! In any event, we packed up our things and left. Went to Windmills and had a fantastic breakfast brunch. I imagine we'll have to make a reservation and drive down to use the Groupon, but it'll have to be fanTASTIC in order for me to have the "warm fuzzies" about Geneva Crepe Cafe and to become a regular patron.
I wouldn't base my opinion of a restaurant on that experience. You should have read the coupon more carefully – you can't expect a locally run business to go out of their way to give you a discount because of your own mistake. I'm sure taking on things like Groupon is a huge risk for restaurants in the first place. If I had done the same, I would have stayed and spent my money where I first intended rather than spending as much, if not more, elsewhere.
Sigh..I knew I'd get flamed for what I posted as my experience. I've used Groupon before in this town and received nothing but positive experiences. I've been welcomed at many businesses who OFFER Groupons. Remember, this is an OFFER given by the business to the general public in order to improve business visibility and to increase traffic to their business.
Restaurants rely on a number of factors to retain loyal customers. Food quality is one. Customer service is another. My experience concerns the customer service that I received.
I'm glad you would have stayed and had breakfast there. However, I felt no such obligation. The purpose of purchasing my Groupon was to experience a restaurant that I normally wouldn't have chosen as I don't live downtown and I'm not made of money. I'd rather frequent places that I KNOW offer good value for money. This Groupon was a way for me to "test the waters" so to speak. That opportunity was not afforded me on Sunday, so I exercised my customer right to choose to spend my money at another establishment. After all, I've already SPENT money at Geneva Cafe by virtue of the fact that I have paid in advance for a meal there. That is what the Groupon is about, no?
In any event, I know that my experience here was less than welcoming, and that does have an impact on whether or not I will become a loyal customer. The meal, if I ever get to partake of it (given the restrictions of my employment and where I live and the Groupon itself) will have to be outstanding in order to wipe away the first experience that I had with the restaurant. And THIS is something ANY small business needs to be concerned with this day and age, no?
OK had some unexpected free time, so husband and I called, made a reservation, and got on our bikes for the trek downtown. Had a LOVELY time, with a great meal. I had the crepe Mexicana as I had a craving for those delicious Mexican spices, and husband had the Smoked Salmon Crepe. The portion sizes were very nice — actually quite large for the Smoked Salmon Crepe. My Mexicana Crepe had some tortilla chips on the side, too. Very, very good and we were perfectly full. We each had a specialty coffee but no dessert — next time! — as we didn't want to overeat before our hour-long bike trek home. Husband had a Mint Latte, and I had the White Pumpkin Latte — heck, it IS close to Fall, no?– and again, the size and flavor was fantastic. They were actually enough to serve as dessert! The service was very, very hospitable, so all in all, I'd have to say GIVE this place a try! Happily, our second experience was so nice as to have us as loyal customers and unqualified recommenders of this place for any meal of the day. :)