NEWS As of January 2005, Crepuscule seems to be closed. There is an application for new ownership notice in the window. Shame :(
603 Bush St. @ Stockton St. San Francisco, CA 94108
Crepuscule's Website Here
Last night it was late when I got home from wine tasting in Napa and found F hadn't eaten all day. I am trying to be good with my money and eat out less, but F offered to treat me and asked me to try and think of somewhere we could go. I had just read about Crepuscule on Chowhound, so I thought it would be a good place to try especially as it was in walking distance and didn't seem to be too expensive.
Crepuscule is a small place tucked away next to Tunnel Top on Bush. The decor is dark, reds and woods warmed by flickering candle lights (It's only a matter of time before something sets alight, however, the waiter had a narrow miss only when a customer on a neighbouring table noticed that back of his shirt was dangerously close to a flame as he took an order). The tables are charming, constructed from old French wine racks. We were seated upstairs, next to the window. The setting is overall quaint, even romantic.
As every French person in this town seems to know every other French person, it didn't surprise me when F greeted the Patron like a friend. It turns out the Crepuscule Front-of -House-come-Waiter remembered F from when we'd visited Chez Papa, his former employer, in the past. The exceptional friendliness he showed us may well have been because of this minor connection, but the waiting staff did seem to be super friendly and helpful with all the other customers around us too so we didn't feel singled out.
He let us try all of the three red wines on their short menu, before we settled on a very reasonably priced bottle French merlot. He explained that a new more exhaustive wine list would be rolled out soon.
We had a discussion about sourcing real French ingredients like saussicons and hams before settling on our choice of crepe. F, who is a cheese crepe fanatic ordered an emmental with the addition of Merguez, a spicy Algerian sausage much loved by the French who have many connections with that particular North African country. I asked what kind of ham was in "La Chambord" - egg, Emmental cheese, mushrooms, ham & bechamel sauce and was told it was the white Parisienne ham so took that as my choice. When it arrived, beautifully presented in minimalist rectangular style with the beautiful sunny-side-up egg perched on the top and a vibrant green, shining pile of lettuce leaves to the side, I could hardly wait to dig into it. The crepe was a small parcel with intense flavours, the strongest of which were the emmental and the bacon. Bacon? Yes - the "ham" in fact turned out to be bacon, but I wasn't disappointed, I can try the ham one next time. The crepes certainly aren't large, it's a case of quality over quantity. The spectacular-looking green leaves were disappointing. They were dressed with some overtly sweet vinaigrette (I suspect raspberry) that jarred with the savouriness of the crepes. I would much prefer a typical French hot spicy mustard vinaigrette to accompany my savoury crepe.
F was less impressed with his, he said he couldn't taste the cheese. I suggested that maybe the spiciness of the Merguez may be overpowering it, because the emmental certainly gave my own crepe it's nutty distinct flavour.
F, is always want to have two crepes, and today was no different: He ordered another savoury emmental, this time without the addition of sausage. He wanted to compare it to the Ti Couz version which he is pretty crazy about. I don't often order desserts but decided to try a sweet crepe on this occasion - also for the purpose of comparing Ti Couz, whose savoury crepes I love, but whose sweet crepes I find to be soggy, rubbery and inexplicably served with a dollop of cream or butter on top (even if you ask them to leave it off). I ordered a simple crepe with lemon juice and sugar (my favourite due to the British custom of Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Day as it is also known where every mother in the country is badgered into making dozens of pancakes, to order, for supper, all of which are served with just fresh lemon juice and white sugar. The purpose of this day? Fattening up for the more frugal period of Lent to come).
Crepuscule's sweet crepe was sublime. Just the right amount of crispiness on the outside and softness inside, contrasting with the sharpness of the lemon and sweetness of the sugar. This crepe far surpassed the sweet crepes I tried at Ti Couz. Fred wasn't quite as enamoured with his plain emmental crepe. He thought it was pretty good, but not a strong enough contender to knock Ti Couz, who use his preferred gruyere cheese in theirs, off the top of his list of favourite crepes.
Crepuscule is a much more intimate space than Ti Couz, the staff are far more friendly and I certainly prefer it, even though F didn't like his dinner quite as much. We finished our meal with a complimentary dessert wine and an espresso. We had been treated superbly by the staff and we shall certainly be returning. The fact that it is open late (til 1am) is a definite bonus and with just about every plate well under ten bucks, I am sure that Crepuscule will soon have a faithful following. Crepuscule