For decades, if you were a Clevelander in search of crêpes, you'd have to bone up on your Berlitz and book a flight. Fortunately, local Francophiles, and others looking for a way to end an Atkins diet with a wallop, now have another option. Artist, costume designer, and exotically named crêpe maker Denajua is now dishing out the real thing at the newly opened Market 25 (1948 West 25th Street), just across from the West Side Market.
Denajua, straight from Central Casting in her jaunty black beret, was hard at work last week when we stopped by her lovely little crêperie -- which, incidentally, she built herself from scraps of copper, an antique window casement, and reams of imported Old World fabrics. The Clevelander returned to the area late last year after a seven-year sojourn in France, bringing with her a French husband (Didier), a traditional, 173/4-inch cast-iron crêpe pan, and a desire to sink her teeth into something new. When space became available in the market (a "retail incubator," offering inexpensive rental space to first-time entrepreneurs), she bit. And now the rest of us can, too -- into her ephemeral crêpes, that is, stuffed with savories like ham and brie ($4.75) or sweets like French fruit preserves ($2.50), bananas ($3), and hazelnut spreads ($3). Watching her smooth the batter over a steaming hot skillet with her wooden rabot is as zen for the ardent foodie as watching Bob Ross paint a pine tree is for the average stoner. Oh là là!
We were also glad to rediscover Marianna Halassy and Donald Smith's fine chocolate shop, Séshart Chocolatier, which relocated to the market from Aurora. While the new shop no longer carries ice cream or pastries, the handmade truffles, chocolate-covered cherries, and nut barks remain as decadently delicious as ever. Customers can call 216-685-9800 to place special orders or simply find out if a favorite truffle flavor is on hand.
Finally, sushi fans must check out Kimo's Sushi Shop. Proprietor Kimo Javier may be most familiar to Clevelanders as the sushi chef at Century in the downtown Ritz-Carlton. Nothing ritzy about his prices here, though: a plump tuna temaki (hand roll) will set you back a mere $4.50, for instance, and a California roll is just $4.25. The small menu also includes miso soup ($3), cold soba-noodle salad ($4), and a daily special.
For now, Market 25 is open Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Friday 11 a.m. until 8 p.m. Beginning in November, the market will add Sunday hours, too.