I remember Walnut Street in Pittsburgh’s Shadyside neighborhood before all the chain stores were there. Before J. Crew, the Apple Store, and Talbot’s moved in, Walnut St. was lined with privately owned stores such as the Gazebo, Koontz & Rider, the Listening Post and the Pet Pad. There was a gas station at the corner where Banana Republic now stands. It was unique and had character and charm. Since the chain stores moved in, Walnut St. is not much more than a high-end mall with BMWs and Mercedes parked in the center aisle. But if you walk down Filbert St. from Walnut, you’ll find some of the character and uniqueness of Shadyside’s past under a bright blue awning above Crepes Parisiennes.
Crepes Parisiennes, more commonly referred to as “the crepes place,” occupies a small basement space at 732 Filbert Street. The space appears to not have been renovated since the late 1980’s, but don’t let the looks of the place fool you; they serve up the best crepes in Pittsburgh, hands down.
There are two types of crepes to choose from, savory and sweet. The savory crepes are the type you’d have for breakfast or lunch. Ham and cheese, smoked salmon, mushroom and cheese, and spinach and cheese are just some of the savory offerings. You also get to pair one of three sauces with your crepe. The savory crepes are served with a small salad of baby greens, a few wedges of mandarin orange and an excellent oil-based dressing. The salad provides a nice break from the richness of the savory crepe. It’s all incredibly delicious, and the crepe shells themselves are expertly made. I’ve had dry crepes and spongey crepes at other places, but the ones made here are a perfect blend of texture and flavor.
The dessert crepes are equally as delicious, and come with a variety of fillings including fresh fruit and Nutella, topped with a mound of whipped cream in lieu of a side salad. And their café au lait lives up to the quality of their crepes.
Now back to that character and uniqueness that I mentioned earlier. This place has it. You won’t find crepes quite like this anywhere in Pittsburgh, and you’d be hard-pressed to find an atmosphere like this anywhere in Pittsburgh. The crowd is an eclectic mix of college students, families with children, hipsters, and the occasional person sitting by himself who will make you say to yourself, “Where’d HE come from?”
The employees are a friendly tattooed and/or pierced bunch who look like they’re genuinely having fun. And the crepe-making owner runs a tight ship; not with his employees, but with his customers. That’s right, there are a few rules that customers must abide by or risk public humiliation by the owner if not followed. Rule #1, this place only accepts cash. Don’t try to pay with plastic. Rule #2 and most important; do not sit down if you haven’t ordered at the counter first. Seating is limited and most people’s initial reaction is for one person to order while the other person saves a table by sitting down. That’s not allowed here. If you try, the owner will come out from behind his crepe making station and in a not-so-subtle way, instruct the rule-breaker to abandon the table he or she just claimed in front of everyone in the place. Half of the fun of going to Crepes Parisiennes is the prospect of witnessing the spectacle of a newbie learning the house rules the hard way.
Crepes Parisiennes is one of Pittsburgh’s best kept secrets. It’s great food, a great atmosphere, and it has all the character and charm that made shopping in Shadyside something really unique.
Crepes Parisiennes does not have a web site.Crepes Parisiennnes,