We eat. We drink. We tell.
Nov 1, 2010
09:00 AMConsuming Passions
Creperie moves into Parkside neighborhood
Prish Moran, the owner of Grant Street’s Sweet_ness 7 café--a pillar of Buffalo’s most exciting up and coming neighborhood--has decided to take another gamble in an area where many café and restaurant owners before her have fallen.
It may be lined with stunning homes, an Olmsted park and the Buffalo Zoo, but Parkside Avenue has not been a business-friendly location in many years. Countless burger joints, ice cream shops and pizza parlors have looked at the thoroughfare’s heavy traffic, lines of families awaiting entry to the Zoo and affordable storefronts and made the leap of faith required to open an eatery. Sadly, what most have failed to recognize is that parking is odd and not conducive to businesses, families are increasingly economizing and packing their own lunch, and cheap rent can often mean building troubles. Additionally, the bulk of these tried and failed business ventures did not adequately gauge their business plans to cater to residents of the neighborhood, residents who gladly navigate their nice cars past these storefronts filled with cheap furnishings and fast food-style menus to a host of restaurants, coffee shops and boutiques on Hertel Avenue, just a few blocks away.
Moran’s move might be the end to that. Her innate ability to build a sense of community where some thought it previously didn’t exist is sure to make a mark on this neighborhood already cram-packed with engaged homeowners. Sweet_ness 7’s second location has made a cozy home for itself at the end of Russell, a one way street that spills out onto Parkside directly across from the Zoo entrance. It’s a tidy location that has been revived with re-purposed furnishings, staffed with enthusiastic youth and set apart from its Grant Street predecessor with an altogether different approach to its menu.
The beverage menu remains the same for the most part, though the Turkish coffee service is sadly missing. Guests will still find classic Italian espresso drinks, French-pressed coffee and a large variety of quality teas (among the offerings is Buffalo’s own Trudy’s Tru-teas). Seasonal beverages and cocoas are here as well.
What really stands apart is the food. Gone are the signature breakfast sandwiches and standard lunchtime fare. Instead they have been replaced with crepes, crepes and more crepes.
Not that I’m complaining.
Buffalo has long needed a creperie. A few years ago the quickly-jettisoned Steel Crazy Café made an attempt, but fell short in more ways than one. For decades crepe-craving residents have made due with the occasional old-school Crepe Suzette on one or two weary dessert menus and a few replicas offered for brunch here and there, but no restaurant has yet to fully embrace the crepe mania easily found in many other American cities.
Let’s hope that Sweet_ness 7 can make this business model work. It can be a profitable and tasty venture if your kitchen has the chops to prepare each crepe properly, with speed and without fail, day in and day out.
On my recent visit to the new location we ordered four versions of the dish, and asked the kitchen to send them out as they were ready, rather than having them attempt to make all four at a time (we knew they didn’t have the staff for that) or leaving some number of crepes standing while the others were completed. I recommend this tactic for any group of visitors. The reason why crepes make such great street food is that their very essence requires them to be prepared á la minute, so why fight it?
The crepe menu offers sweet options as well as dishes more suited for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Each of them is priced between $6.50 and $10. The Nutella-filled crepe served with fresh whipped cream and the addition of sliced banana was perfect (pictured above), as was the classic offering of crepe with sweet butter and powdered sugar. I opted for the egg, ham and béchamel crepe (with a bacon substitution due to a ham shortage) and was sated and pleased with my selection. The Trippy Hippie--made with chunks of chicken breast, wild mushrooms and béchamel--was also very good (pictured right). More than a dozen variations are offered, and each is made of good quality ingredients. The crepe featuring lemon curd will be impetus for my next visit.
More important than the food or the coffee, Sweet_ness on Parkside seems to have curried favor with the neighborhood already. During our late afternoon visit a dozen residents stopped in for coffee to go and a variety of folks lounged about the shop; reading the paper, playing board games and working on their laptops. If S_7 can prove to be an attraction in this neighborhood the way that it did on Grant, we should see a mirror of the original location’s progress within a year or two: new stores will open, foot traffic will increase, and hopefully the crepes will still be sizzling. But don’t wait until then. This weather is very conducive to a little one-on-one time with your favorite friend, kid or book, so stop in and sample a little Sweet_ness for yourself.
301 Parkside Avenue
Buffalo, NY 14214