"You know," my wife said, chewing thoughtfully, "nothing else I eat today will taste this good." We were sitting at the counter of Sofi's Crepes on 333 North Charles Street in Baltimore, Maryland, throwing ourselves a little gastronomic party – and that statement pretty much summed up the experience.
Having heard the name mentioned often enough on Midday with Dan Rodricks, we decided to check things out first hand, and were so far from disappointed we forgot what the word meant. The food, service, and atmosphere instantly made it one of my favorite places to eat in the city.
A crepe, for the uninitiated, is a sort of thin pancake, which is filled with all manner of sweet or savory foods (kind of like a French burrito). Until this week, the only place I thought to get a good one was Paris. Sofi's now makes two places, since with my first bite I was back in the Latin Quarter.
I ordered the Kevin Bacon (turkey, bacon, cheese, and tomatoes with Thousand Island Sauce), while my wife had The Motz (mozzarella, fresh basil, and tomato with cracked pepper & olive oil). The ingredients were so powerfully fresh that each flavor became distinct within the whole. A masterful herb grower, my wife was so struck by the basil she swore they were keeping a plant in the café.
The menu is divided into two categories: savory and sweet.
On the one hand are choices like BBQ shredded pork and cheddar cheese, sliced turkey, pesto mayonnaise and cranberry chutney, or bacon, avocado, tomato, and sour cream.
The softer side, meanwhile, presents options like The Bananarama: banana, granola, honey, and peanut butter; The Turtle: caramel, chocolate, and nuts; and S'mores: chocolate, melted marshmallows, and graham cracker crumbs.
If none of these options strikes your fancy, there's always the build-your-own option. Watching the ladies at Sofi's work, however, made it eminently clear this was a don't-try-this-at-home situation.
The location on North Charles is one small room with a U-shaped red counter and matching stools. In the center of the U are three crepieres — large round heating plates designed specifically for making deliciousness — and most of the ingredients. The batter is poured, worked into a thin skin with wooden tools, and topped with ingredients. Even though I watched closely, I missed the step where they added the fresh squeezed awesomeness. The hands that folded and wrapped our crepes were clearly well trained and well practiced.
Crepes run between $4 and $8 at either of the two locations. The one we visited is entered through the Women's Industrial Exchange store or the side door on Pleasant Street. They are also at 1723 N. Charles Street, next door to the Charles Theater. Plans are in the works for an Annapolis waterfront shop as well. For more information on what will no doubt become a perfectly pleasant habit, visit their website.
As I went through my day, I kept returning to what my wife said about nothing else tasting as good. As usual, she was right. In fact, even days later, this is heartbreakingly true.