The Le Marais family is throwing open a charming window in the Castro, to start passing warm crepes into hands on October 5. The new Grande Creperie window will serve out of the back of the existing bakery location on 18th Street, only a short stroll to Dolores Park. And all the better with portable snacks, thanks to a streamlined menu of sweet and savory crepes. Chef Patrick Ascaso and wife Joanna Pulcini-Ascaso say they’re grateful for the success of the six-month-old Grande Creperie in the Ferry Building, where pancake fans line up on farmers’ market days. But this cute idea goes back to their daughter Aurelia: One of the moms from her ballet class suggested the window. “There are a lot of French American families living on that side [of the city],” Joanna says. “We’ve found an appetite for crepes,” Patrick adds.
Patrick will debut a simple menu of four savory buckwheat crepes, four sweet white crepes, and one special. He had to include the fan-favorite “complete” with good ham, gooey Gruyere, and a framed egg; as well as woodsy mushrooms with creamy chevre; and smoked salmon with fragrant dill. The housemade Nutella is the biggest hit on the sweet side, but don’t miss the namesake Aurelia smeared with caramel and sprinkled with Speculoos crumbs. Inspired by summer travels in France, Patrick is also testing a savory-sweet crossover, using the buckwheat batter, but folding in dark chocolate, and spiking it with espelette pepper. (One pastry-obsessed note: Some outlets incorrectly reported sourdough crepes, but Patrick confirmed that after many tests, he ultimately went with traditional, unleavened Brittany-style crepes.)
The window will be out of the back of the existing Le Marais location in the Castro, to the left of the entrance on 18th Street. It’s taking advantage of a small back room, which was previously curtained off, but now the family has installed a ledge, shutters, and sign in blue and gold. Diners can step up to the window to order crepes to go. Or they can still sit down inside the cafe for eggs Benedict, croques, salads, and wine. In addition to announcing the new window, Patrick is tweaking the cafe name to Bistro le Marais. He plans to extend hours into the evening and expand the wine list, bringing in bottles from lesser-known regions of France, as well as dry cider from Normandy. Check out the full menu below.
That makes four locations total: Bistro le Marais and Grande Creperie window in the Castro, Grande Creperie in the Ferry Building, Le Marais Bakery in Polk Gulch (the central kitchen for delivery orders), and Bistro le Marais in Mill Valley. Plus there’s one more fifth location to come: A new wine bar in Marin Country Mart at Larkspur Landing, across from Hog Island, and soon home to Souvla and Moonset Noodle Shop from Slanted Door. Unlike the bakeries, the upcoming Buvette du Marais will lean into snacking and drinking. Snagging the lease of the former Fisher’s Cheese & Wine, the Ascasos say they loved this corner spot, which cozies a couple dozen seats inside and spills outdoors. They’ve started a light refresh, adding warm woods while keeping the bottle racks and jaunty wallpaper. But Patrick is already excited for the menu, with promises of Champagne cocktails, croquettes, ratatouille, and — bien sur — crepes.
The Grande Creperie window opens in the Castro on October 5, and will serve crepes daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Buvette du Marais is slated to open in Marin Country Mart in early 2023.