Dec. 29 2010 01:12 PM

Orange Blossom Café fills bellies with sweet, savory French pancakes

Orange Blossom Cafe: tough to find, but worth the search
Photo by Jenny Montgomery

The bright bunch of orange balloons was key. I was stumbling around Cedros Avenue in Solana Beach doing some Christmas shopping and was quickly descending into low-blood-sugar crankiness. I'd seen enough enormous and carefully weathered garden urns and wrought-iron candelabras to last me for the year. Mama needed lunch.

When, what to my desperate eyes should appear? A giant bunch of citrusy globes beckoning me to look way, way down into a distant Cedros parking lot to the Orange Blossom Café.

OK, so its location isn't that far down into the depths of the design district, but it's not the most visible location. I pray the corner-tucked locale won't hurt business, because this brand-spanking-new breakfast and lunch place is just plain wonderful, and worth repeat visits.

Orange Blossom Café (224 S. Cedros Ave., Ste. B, Solana Beach) specializes in crepes, which we all need more of in our lives. There are a few creperies scattered around San Diego County, but other than the guy at the farmers market who'll make you a tasty crepe after you wait in line forever, a delicious and creative crepe restaurant has been lacking on the food scene—until now.

Orange Blossom Café has the traditional Nutella crepe, with or without banana, as well as a sugar crepe with lemon. But I'd recommend going straight to the namesake, the Orange Blossom Crepe with Orange Honey Butter. To eat this soft pocket of sweetness is to embrace what a crepe is all about. There's no stuffing spilling out, just chewy folds of sweet dough, slathered in butter and honey. It doesn't get much better than that.

While the sweet crepe batter has orange zest, cinnamon and vanilla, the savory batter has beer and herbs, which imparts a delightful tang to the whole dish. The Roasted Chicken crepe is incredibly hearty, filled with deli chicken, hot and gooey mozzarella, roasted red peppers and fresh spinach leaves that fortunately don't have time to wilt since they're cooked so quickly.

There are plenty of interesting menu options to explore, including My Big Fat Greek, a crepe with artichokes, spinach, feta and tzatziki sauce. There are also crepes with prosciutto and pesto and even breakfast crepes filled with egg and cheese. Fear not, crepe haters (who are you?!), there are a few non-crepe items. Try the Orange Blossom Salad—although, if you'd like, you can have your salad wrapped in a crepe for just a buck more! And the clever Oatmeal Brulee is a bowl of oatmeal with orange zest and a crusty topping of burnt sugar.

Feel free to customize your crepe. My crepe-eating companion on the day in question went the traditional Nutella-and-banana route but opted to have the whole thing buried under a down comforter of chocolate whipped cream. After hours of shopping, that plateful of decadence put any food-court Cinnabon to shame. Music fans: After a night of music at the Belly Up tavern, what could be better than a Banana's Foster crepe, with caramel sauce, bananas and Grand Marnier?

On my first visit to the Orange Blossom Café, I had a hankering for an Italian Soda, and although it has only two flavor options (raspberry and peach), they're both made with fresh fruit puree. After trying both of these fresh and sparkly options, I'm not sure I'll never go back to anything with Torani. If you'd like, they'll toss a splash of half-and-half into your soda, making your drink into an effervescent fruit-and-cream taste sensation.

Savory or sweet, a tender, hot, French wrap hits the spot whether you're wandering around looking at Parisian architecture or shopping for stocking stuffers back home. Orange Blossom Café may be the new kid on the block, but if its amazing crepes, smiling staff and bright orange balloons keep attracting the hungry on Cedros, it'll hopefully never fold.              

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