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Sunday April 20, 2014
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What Crepe?

 

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Rob Gunter chimes in with his tale. In his early thirties, he had dropped out of several academic programs and was an unemployed culinary graduate of Schoolcraft College when he went on a date with his wife at What Crepe? in Royal Oak. "There was a guy [Jenkins] who seemed to be in charge. I followed him around, pestering him about what kind of crepe pans he used and how many burners he had. He said, 'Why do you ask?' and I told him I'd learned how to make crepes at school and was curious." Numbers were exchanged, and "three interviews and one tryout later, [Jenkins] said 'Welcome aboard'--as Birmingham executive chef. Stephenson and Gunter are tag teaming in Ann Arbor until another Jenkins protege is ready to take over here.

The most recent tenants in the space, Yoshi's and Squares, were not around long enough to garner much of a following (many still remember the spot as Dinersty). It's been gently glammed up, but Gunter says that, for the most part, they worked with the furniture and equipment they had. The tables and chairs are Squares furniture, sanded and re-lacquered. About the only new kitchen equipment are the crepe griddles, and they're front and center: you can watch the crepes being made. Because What Crepe? has a liquor license, a bar has been installed against the back wall, and Jenkins has closed off the direct Liberty Street entrance, routing all traffic through the hall corridor.

With Francoise Hardy softly warbling "La Mer" in the background, What Crepe? could be a cool retro-mod bistro on any Parisian side street, until you look at the menu, which makes it clear that there is no slavish devotion to French cuisine here.

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