COLUMN: Crepe-ing it real

Reviewing Crepes on the Fly, a new CMU restaurant

A close up of how the crepes are delivered to customers at Crepes on the Fly, located on the first floor of the University Center. (CM Life | Courtney Boyd)

You're running to the Bovee University Center after class, absolutely starved and craving something that isn't bland and truly fills you up. As you head down the stairs and enter Central Eats, you catch a whiff of sugar in the air.

Straight ahead and slightly to the right you see it: Crepes on the Fly, a new restaurant that opened just before winter break.

As the name suggests, the restaurant specializes in making crepes that are either savory or sweet in nature. Chefs prepare crepes by hand and bake to perfection using a pizza oven similar to the ones seen in dining halls such as The Eatery and Dine and Connect 

Two Central Michigan Life reporters, Bar Belian and Courtney Boyd, went to the restaurant before winter break to try a few of the crepes Crepes on the Fly offer. 

Each of them tried a sweet crepe and a savory crepe from the menu. Here are their reviews of the crepes on a scale of one to ten:

Choco-on-the-fly (Biscoff cookies, Nutella, banana) - Courtney’s Sweet Choice

Bar and I did switch sweet crepes on accident, which I didn't even realize until I got further into the dessert. While I was expecting something with more chocolate and cherries, this was still a delight through and through.

The Choco-on-the-fly crepe was full of sugar from the first bite, but in a way that didn't overwhelm me. For people with a sweet tooth this will definitely be a hit, but I think it can work for those who prefer something more mellow, too.

The main elements in this crepe are the banana and the Nutella, which blend together nicely. They are both a similar texture to each other, but their flavors are distinct enough to tell them apart while you’re eating it. I argue the Nutella shines through a bit more than the banana, especially as an aftertaste. That all goes away when the cookies come into play, however.

I went from sweet, almost liquid goodness to a crunchy base of cookies that almost tasted like graham crackers. Additionally, I found what appeared to be bits of cinnamon throughout the dish, some of which were in small, sprinkle-sized balls that catch you off guard if you’re not expecting them. Both add to the flavor and take away from the sweetness, helping bring your tastebuds back down to Earth.

Along with the sweetness, the crepe was soft throughout, from the breading to the bananas further down. While it had its moments of crunchiness with the Biscoff cookies and bits of cinnamon, all the pieces easily melted in your mouth and made for something that feels easy to get into and digest through and through.

Overall, I give this dessert an 8.5/10. 

While it was sweet and not overpowering, it did feel as if it was missing something with how well the ingredients blended together. Maybe some whipped cream or chunks of chocolate may have pulled it together more. (Or I could just be a bit of a chocolate addict...) Despite this, I found it to be delicious. 

Whipped-on-the-fly (Cherry compote, Hershey’s chocolate sauce, whipped cream) - Bar’s Sweet Choice

I was definitely taken aback by this crepe. It was a mixture of two experiences. The first portion was soft and sweet while the second part was much more sour and solid. 

The Whipped-on-the-fly was filled halfway with cherries and topped with whipped cream while wrapped in pancake batter. They all complemented each other well and are also able to give a variety of tastes. The crepe is unintentionally divided into two sections -- whipped cream and cherries. 

In the whipped cream part, it had a foamy and sweet feeling. The cream was on its own and performed well, especially for being a topping. Then midway throughout the crepe, the line between the cream and the fruit was crossed. A cherry, sour and chewy sensation screamed onto the crepe scene.

While the texture changed, it was a mild difference at best. However, the taste changed immensely because of the cherries. From a calm, soft sweetness of whipped cream to a sharp, acidic taste of the fruit.  

The crepe was somehow incredibly polarizing in a variety of ways. The taste, color, texture and the difference between the changes of taste and texture were all divisive. 

Overall, I rate it as a 7.8/10. 

While I liked the whipped cream part for its soft sweetness; personally, the cherries' sourness was a bit overboard and surprised me. Changing drastically in so many areas wasn’t my favorite, but it managed to still taste good.

Chicken-on-the-fly (Grilled chicken, paprika spread, muenster cheese, spinach) - Courtney’s Savory Choice

This crepe was the definition of savory. The ingredients almost speak for themselves! The Chicken-on-the-Fly was rich in flavor and packed with a diverse array of flavors that really compete for your attention. For those daring to try something new that will satisfy your hunger cravings, this is certainly it.

I went into this crepe not realizing just how powerful the paprika spread would be. I like spicy food, but it just hits different when you’re not expecting the spice at all -- and that’s what happened going into this one. I had to hold back a cough when the spice hit me at first! 

The flavor reminded Mexican cuisine, like a chicken taco or an enchilada. The chicken and paprika spread did compliment each other, almost competing for your attention with each bite. The cheese helped to balance things out and also calmed down the spice factor whenever it started to get overwhelming. 

I personally am not a fan of spinach, so I did try to avoid biting into it when I could. When I did taste the spinach, it joined the fight against the chicken and paprika to catch your attention and occupy the back of your mouth as long as possible before the next bite came. When the spinach did win this fight, it was unpleasant at best.

While my sweet crepe was soft, this crepe leaned more on the crunchy side. The edge of the breading was crisp, like it had been left in the oven just a little too long on purpose. On top of that, the chicken and spinach definitely make a statement when you first bite into it. No element in this dish lets itself go unrecognized, not just in flavor but in sound and texture as well.

I would rate this crepe a 6.4/10, mainly because of how unexpected some of the elements were. While the chicken is good and the crepe itself is filling, the paprika spread and spinach really caught me off guard and took away from my experience more than adding to it. If I could order it again subtracting the spinach and getting a bit less sauce, I definitely would.

Veggie-on-the-fly (Roasted Portobello mushrooms, spinach, paprika spread, muenster cheese) - Bar’s Savory Choice

Based on previous experiences I’ve had with foods that had veggie in the title like veggie burgers, I was hesitant about this crepe. However, I was pleasantly surprised.

The Veggie-on-the-fly was a very steady and calm experience with just a little bit of spice. The crepe was mostly melted cheese with mushrooms and spinach spread through it. The spinach was unexpected as it wasn’t on the ingredient list but it was not a problem. The paprika was slightly lower than the start of the other ingredients so they played a late role. 

The mushrooms and spinach accompanied the cheese in texture to give the crepe a slight chew. The cheese by itself was warm and creamy. The mushrooms gave a sudden solid feeling while the spinach was much more long lasting and was also softer. The paprika didn’t necessarily change any of the texture.

The taste was a slow walk up a hill. The cheese taste was the most prevalent as it was the most put in ingredient. The bitterness from the mushrooms and spinach accommodated the solo act of the cheese for the first part. When the paprika was introduced, it was not too wild. There was certainly spice added but not so much to enormously change the flavor. 

I rate this a 9.1/10. I would definitely get this on a regular basis, disregard changes. The savory cheese flavor with a slight kick of spice works incredibly together. Also due to how it fared to my personal expectations, it had an element of surprise.

Final thoughts

The service and overall aesthetics were pretty decent. For four crepes, it only took 15 to 20 minutes to cook. It was also nice to be able to see the chefs make the food right in front of us, as the kitchen was seen through a glass wall. 

Food and drink options were limited to six different drink options and seven different food options. However, since it is located at the University Center, there are many options around the area as well.

In total, the combined rating is 31.8/40, or a 7.95/10 average. C+ to B- range of grading is decent in the case of new desserts. The experience itself was delightful with the opportunity of trying some cuisine with French origins.