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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

New squeeze

Quaint café introduces crepes to the Whole Foods plaza

Posted on Wed, Jan 6, 2010 at 4:00 AM

Creperies appear to be blossoming all over the city, be they comfortable restaurants like Pointe Orlando's La Creperia Café or humble food carts like downtown's Crepe Company. Winter Park's Green Lemon Café likely falls into the fast-casual category, but husband-and-wife owners Amanda and Rob Volence certainly don't foster a dine-and-dash mentality. Like the cooks, they're always up for a chat; during quieter moments, the original paintings hanging on the café's colorful walls beg for a closer examination and, if one's wallet allows, purchase. But unlike the art, the food served here won't break the bank ' most items hover around the $7 mark, offering affordability without sacrificing taste. A plus: Only Boar's Head meats are used in their savory crepes, salads, sandwiches and paninis ' a definite notch above the grade of meat offered a couple of doors down at Subway. And with the Whole Foods Market in the same shopping plaza, Green Lemon should, theoretically, have a steady base of customers filtering out of the grocery store's doors and into theirs.

In fact, a few happened to walk in the evening of my visit proclaiming ignorance of the café's existence, grabbing a few takeout menus, then enviously peering at the pesto-heavy chicken Florentine crepe ($7.50) I was so gleefully devouring. The thin-fried envelope packed a flavorful wallop with a proper proportion of chicken, spinach, onions, mushrooms and cheddar-jack. The turkey brie ($7) posed a lighter, more subtly flavored option, with green apple slices adding a mild sweetness. (They didn't skimp on the brie, either.) If you opt for the sizable 'black & bleuâ?� roast beef'and'blue cheese crepe ($7.50), the irony of the café being sandwiched between Marie-France and Omaha Steaks won't be lost. OK, it probably will, but that won't take away from the sandwich. I happened to glance at the turkey bacon panini ($7.25) one of the cooks was chomping down on during a break and it, too, looked worthy of ordering.

But when it comes to crepes, the pièces de rèsistance lie on the sweeter side of fried, so I was a little disappointed in the absence of my favorite ' crepes suzette ' from the selections listed on the menu. The fact they're not licensed to sell alcohol may have something to do with it, though that may change in the coming weeks. Until then, the Green Lemon crepe ($4), with lemon and sugar, is the closest thing, but you're better off going with a more filling option, and there are plenty. The Southern Comfort crepe ($5.50) is a viscous mélange of peanut butter, bananas and chocolate sauce, while the 'caramel delightâ?� ($4.50) can be made a seasonal delight with the addition of cinnamon apples for a buck extra. A separate 'dessert crepesâ?� category listed items that were entirely too rich and decadent for my tastes, but if you're the type that gets a kick out of Oreo crumbs or s'mores in your crepes, have at it.

There's a scene in Talladega Nights where Ricky Bobby gets his arm broken for refusing to utter the words, 'I love crepes.â?� After enjoying one here, you likely won't need your arm twisted. And if you don't, there's likely another one on Green Lemon's menu that'll squeeze the sentiment out of you.

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