What is usually a sweet breakfast treat or fruit-laden meal-ender is the star attraction at the Flying Pan Cafe & Crepes. The neighborhood cafe opened in March by restaurateur Laurent Corgnet right on busy Kennedy Boulevard, in the former location of Bin 27 Bistro. Corgnet has crepe restaurants in 10 countries. This is his first in the United States. The Flying Pan is an eclectic casual cafe with funky wall paper, mosaic tiles, local artwork and a fun mix of comfortable tables and booths. There's also patio seating.
You order at the counter and take a seat. The crepe-chefs do their work, creating thin, crisp and tender crepes, served warm and liberally filled with an assortment of fresh ingredients you'll want to eat again and again. More than a dozen savory sandwich-like crepes are offered, as well as omelettes, waffles and pancakes; and six types of sweet crepes. If you're not craving a crepe, there are also pressed sandwiches and salads. We tried The Gobbler (turkey, Monterey jack cheese, tomatoes, avocado, dijionnaise, fresh dill). This is a great lunch option from the usual turkey sandwich. If you're an avocado fan, you'll love this crepe. The avocado (perfectly ripe) mixed with the dijionnaise turned into a creamy filling that paired well with the pieces of turkey and tomatoes. The fresh dill provided a nice kick. Many of the crepes also are available in “kid size” for half the price. The crepe lunch, paired with a garden salad with a surprisingly tasty sesame/ginger dressing, was light but will keep you full until dinner, though the salad could use a bit of variety by way of cucumber or tomato. The savory Thai Twister did not disappoint, offering a nice mesh of textures. The thin but chewy wrap bundles the crispy vegetables (bamboo shoots, shredded carrots, chopped peanuts, basil, mint) and tender chicken together for a satisfying crunch. The accompanying peanut sauce dressing accentuates the fillings' flavors but doesn't drown out the bite of the fresh herbs. Another colleague tried the Santa Fe crepe, which was similar to a quesadilla but in a crepe rather than a flour tortilla. Stuffed with taco meat, Monterey jack cheese, black beans, pico de gallo, onions sour crème and guacamole it was flavorful, but not too spicy. She did have to eat it with a fork as that the crepe is thinner than a tortilla and doesn't hold its form as well — not that she was complaining. The kudos continued when we dove into one of the Flying Pan's pressed sandwiches. The Croque Monsieur, a panini-style sandwich perfectly pressed on crusty cheese toast with turkey, béchamel sauce and Monterey jack cheese, was fantastic. The béchamel sauce provided a nice tang to accompany the turkey. There wasn't a crumb left on the plate. We also sampled the Tuscan Sun, one of several vegetarian selections, which offered a mix of sun-dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, mozzarella cheese, baby spinach, marinated red onions and a balsamic glaze, with a side of salmon. We loved the combination of flavors, but found the chopped salmon dry and under-seasoned. But a cup of new England clam chowder was a delicious surprise. Although the crepes are very filling, you should save room for dessert, even if you have to share with someone. We had a hard time choosing from the assortment of dessert crepes, most of which have a fresh-fruit base. You can even create your own dessert crepe from a list of ingredients. We settled on the Nutella Mania, layered with the delicious hazelnut spread, a scoop of vanilla ice cream and whipped cream. The flavor was heavenly and we fought over the last morsel. The Flying Pan also serves an assortment of espresso-based drinks, including a Nutella mocha combination. Though Flying Pan doesn't have traditional waiters, the same gentleman brought our food on each of our visits. He was responsible for all the tables in the restaurant, but he brought our food out fast, he was engaging, and he regularly checked on us to see if everything was to our satisfaction. And it was.
THE FLYING PAN CAFE & CREPES
Bottom Line: A casual eatery that focuses on crepes with a variety of tasty and filling portions
Where: 2702 W. Kennedy Blvd., Tampa
Hours: 6:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Sunday
Credit Cards: All major
Children’s Menu: No, but kid sizes are available on some items