I have been to France – only once so far in my lifetime. It was in high school before I really appreciated the “finer” things. Needless to say, I did not get to enjoy true French cuisine, let alone a delicious classic like a crêpe filled with strawberries and cream. So when I discovered that Knoxville had a quaint French café specializing in crêpes, I just couldn’t resist.
As soon as you step through the door, your senses are tickled by the ambiance of a Parisian café – the walls are coated in a subdued shade of blue, soft French music plays, Fleur de Lis hang from every surface, the metal bistro tables packed closely in the cozy café. This. This is what I see when I dream of Paris. Not that I dream of Paris. Nope. Never.
The French Market opened in October of 2008. The owners are not actually French, but locals to Tennessee. They lived in France for a bit and while there, fell in love with French crêpes. They located the manufacturer for the batter most street vendors use and the rest is history. Yes indeed, that crêpe you are eating actually got it’s start in ol’ Pair-ee. It doesn’t get more French than that. Oh, and boy are they persnickety about their crêpes – they make it a point to tell you they are folded the French way and not rolled unlike some other crêpe-serving wannabes we will not name.
My very first trip I ordered the crêpe filled with bavarian creme and strawberries. While it was delicious and the creme had a perfectly smooth texture, it was incredibly filling. So if you’ve just had a big dinner, I’d recommend a lighter option.
My second visit I finally got the hubs down to Gay Street and got to taste their savory crêpes. Yes, I said savory crêpes – they have both! I had the buckwheat crêpe with goat cheese, walnuts and added artichokes. It was awesome! Mr. Brown had the savory special – a crêpe stuffed to the brim with ham and swiss. We couldn’t pass up dessert. So we shared the crêpe with chestnut butter, added bananas and almonds – the perfect balance of buttery decadence, nuttiness and creamy, sugary sweet bananas. This is still, by far, my favorite on the menu. The chestnut butter is also imported from France.
They also serve a few other menu items – daily soup such as French Onion, baguette and croissant sandwiches, salads. Their cooler case is filled with petit fours and macarons. And to drink with your crêpe, LaVazza coffee – Italy’s favorite.
Since space inside the cafe is limited, they also have a heated patio. To get the true feel of being in Paris sit here, watch passersby stroll Gay Street, enjoy your coffee and crêpe and stay awhile.