“A crepe is a blank slate,” says Aleksandar Janjic. He is preparing and serving me crepe after crepe after crepe. Before today, I liked crepes. I thought of them as being filled with nutella, strawberries, and whipped cream – an extremely basic take. But now, Janjic is opening my mind to what a crepe can be, one crispy fold at a time.
“A crepe can be for breakfast, for lunch, for dinner… we treat our crepes like a composed dish, with the textures and colors of a complete meal.” Janjic is the owner of Happy Place Creperie on Main Street in Warren. He’s also a warm, Serbian gentle giant who waxes poetic about crepes in a way that is immediately mesmerizing.
Happy Place has 25 different options for crepes, split evenly between sweet and savory. I’m served the first savory crepe on the menu as soon as I sit down: avocado, ricotta, pesto, and roasted pumpkin seeds. In this case, the avocado and ricotta are slightly indulgent but light, the flavors pulling subtly towards autumn by the pesto and pumpkin seeds. My mind immediately goes to dessert when I think of crepes, but with the first bite of this vegetarian lunch variety, my eyes are opened by this soft pancake-meets-burrito texture.
Further expanding my horizons is the second crepe, filled with Egyptian artichoke, cheddar, spinach, and olive tapenade. After two leaf-filled bites, I truly can’t think of a better way to serve this salty, fresh, and gooey combination. I realize it then and there: the crepe is king.
Switching things up, Happy Place puts their own spin on the more widely known dessert crepes. Nutella with crumbled butter biscuits and sour cherries provide a more sophisticated option for those looking to satisfy a sweet tooth. The sour cherries offer a strong contrast to the Nutella’s sweetness. “Finishing touches are key,” Kanjic says plainly, sliding over another dessert crepe: apples cooked down with apple butter, caramel, and crushed up Cinnamon Toast Crunch.
At this point, I’m sold. If Janjic asks me to invest in a second Happy Place Creperie location, I’m taking out a second mortgage on my home and I’m all in. I sip one of their delicious oat milk lavender lattes as I wait to see what else he has up his sleeve. The latte is not nearly as milky as I expected – it’s subtle but rich. Along with lattes, they offer several coffee, tea, and specialty hot chocolate options.
The final crepe is right up my alley. Smoked salmon, dill, cream cheese, fresh cucumber, and caper berries. “Caper berries are better than capers themselves,” Janjic notes. “Capers get mushy when they get warm. Caper berries keep their texture.” The freshness of salmon and cream cheese feels so much more appropriate served in a crepe, as opposed to a bagel. The focus on the filling is so much clearer, the overall dish lighter, and Janjic is right – the caper berries give it more life. In addition to crepes, their menu includes soups, salads, and omelets. “Anything you can put in a savory crepe,” Janjic says, “you can put in an omelet.”
Happy Place Creperie lives up to its name in decor, with colorful, whimsical painted shapes on the wall and minimalist seating. It’s an incredibly welcoming space that exudes relaxation and joy.
As I thank him and begin to waddle out the door, I ask Janjic, who has a history working in fine dining all over the world, why he opened Happy Place. His answer is simple: “Crepes are for everyone.”
No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here