Waking up in the morning is usually not a pleasant affair. Shocked awake by the alarm buzzer, I barely have enough time for a hastily downed glass of juice and a quick glance at the paper before it's off to the daily grind.
On weekends, though, I breathe easier, knowing that there's nowhere to rush off to, nothing pressing to do, no clock to watch--the two days are mine to do with what I please. And, so, easing into the day at Bibby's Crepe Café in downtown La Jolla is an especially delicious prospect.
The café, with its sunny yellow walls and blue checked tablecloths, is busy but unhurried--you can read the paper and sip your coffee as long as you like. Bibby's special brew, with coffee beans freshly ground for each cup, is exceptional, with a frothy top like you usually see on top of well-prepared espressos. Unless you're feeling indulgent, though, there's no need to splurge--the regular house coffee is great, as well, and you get free refills.
Managed by a Belgian family, the café specializes in European breakfast and afternoon snack favorites like French omelets, Belgian waffles and both sweet and savory crepes. I like starting with something salty and ending with something sweet, so I rotate between the Bibby's Special, a giant, thin pancake round enfolding gruyere cheese, slices of Granny Smith apples, caramelized onions and sautéed mushrooms; the La Complete, stuffed full with ham, cheese, spinach and tomatoes and a bit of creamy béchamel sauce; and the Bibby's Blue, a combination of melted blue cheese, brie and gruyere with roasted potatoes.
For lunch, any selection from the menu of savory crepes can be made into more of a meal with the add-on of a salad or a cup of soup for an extra $2.50. I also like the richness of the breakfast crepes, oozing with the golden yolks of sunny-side-up eggs. All the savory crepes, or galettes, are made with a buckwheat batter, and have an earthy, nutty flavor that enhances the hearty fillings. An Orangina in lieu of orange juice bridges the gap between breakfast and lunch, especially if you're a late-riser.
Those who go for the sweet stuff will find a decadent list of traditional crepes made from wheat flour and folded over fresh strawberries and whipped cream, sautéed bananas, cinnamon apples or spread with jam or Nutella, the crepes' size barely contained by a plate. I'm partial to the restrained sauce of lemon juice, sugar and a bit of butter, but there are also times that call for classic Crepes Suzette: Grand Marnier-doused crepes that are flambéed and topped with chocolate sauce and ice cream.
Bibby's airy and light Belgian waffles, whose little square pockets are made for soaking up maple syrup and butter, are also tasty, but rather than order a dessert in-house, I prefer to renew my appetite with a walk down the block and around the corner to La Jolla Elementary School, where Bibby's operates a stand at the weekly farmers market and prepares, to order, most of the same items from the café's menu. Their stand always has the longest line, but I wait patiently for a Liège waffle, a hard-to-find Belgian treat made from a cookie-like dough. It's denser in texture than standard Belgian waffles and studded with nibs of sugar pearls that caramelize on the waffle as it cooks. You can have it with chocolate sauce or sliced berries, but all it really needs is a dusting of powdered sugar.
Bibby's might need to recruit some new family members to help run the growing crepe empire. In addition to the downtown La Jolla café, they run a larger shop near the beach at La Jolla Shores, where they'll soon be offering panini-pressed Croque Monsieur sandwiches and those yummy Liège waffles in addition to all their sweet and savory crepe varieties. They also have a crepe stand at the Scripps Ranch Farmers Market every Saturday, besides their regular Sunday-morning gig at the La Jolla Farmers Market. And soon, UCSD students will be able to get in on the crepe-lovin' with their very own Bibby's Crepes at the Price Center.
Bibby's Pearl Street location is open 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Friday (closed on Monday) and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekends. The Avenida de la Playa location is open seven days a week from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.