I could almost smell the flowers in the vibrant paintings of the French countryside on the wall. Bright blue and yellow table accents made the restaurant as sunny as if it had been located in one of those scenes. Owner Bruno Baio, who is from Annecy, was there, and my waitress was French too.
A sign near the door promised free escargots on Thursday night (too bad that it was Wednesday noon). And a blackboard promoted such dishes as duck liver mousse, quiche and Dover sole with lemon caper sauce.
As the name indicates, Crème de la Crepe specializes in that great Breton specialty, the crepe. There are crepes for breakfast lunch or dinner, both savory and sweet. Each has a name. I chose esquise, a thin buckwheat crepe folded around tomatoes and ham enveloped in melted brie. A fresh basil sauce was spooned over the top, and a small green salad was tucked at one side.
Aside from crepes, the restaurant offers such French classics as beef bourguignon, steak au poivre vert, salmon en croute and salade nicoise. But when I go back, I will have another crepe--not the Parisienne (chicken breast with cheese and mushrooms in white wine sauce), not the Montagnarde (raclette cheese, prosciutto, potatoes and cornichons) and not the Gauloise (venison sausage in tomato sauce).
My heart is set on decadente, a dessert crepe with luscious cinnamon-baked apples and brown sugar, flamed with Calvados. But I could be persuaded to try fondante (pears with melted chocolate and vanilla ice cream); savoreuse (bananas, chocolate and almonds), or splendide (strawberries, honey and vanilla ice cream). As long as it is gooey and sweet, I will be happy.
Crème de la Crepe, 424 Pier Ave., Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. Tel: (310) 937-2822. Open daily from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.