You have not had a crepe until you have had a French crepe. And you have not had a French crepe until you have had a buckwheat crepe. Fortunately, both are now available at lunch in downtown Santa Rosa at Bistro 29.
The longtime French cafe has reopened in recent weeks for lunch, adding to the boom of restaurant choices downtown, and we, for one, were among the first in line for both sweet and savory crepes (along with a duck burger, frisee salad, and Croque Madame).
If you’re not familiar with buckwheat, it’s a gluten-free fruit seed that’s related to the rhubarb family, though often used as a grain for things like porridge—which is as tragic as it being referred to as “groats” and being called a “superfood” by overeager nutritionists.
Milled into a dark brown flour, the clever folks of Brittany make humble buckwheat actually taste delicious by adding eggs and milk to the mixture, resulting in a hearty wrapper for Swiss cheese, ham, sausage or whatever else is lying around the house. They really class it up by calling it a galette, rather than a crepe. Bistro 29’s version of the buckwheat crepe/galette is dairy free, and has even fancier things stuffed inside, like Gruyere, figs, lox and creme fraiche, pears or bacon.
We’re pretty partial to the sweet crepes, as well. Made with regular flour, they’re the light brown discs some of us remember from the 1970s, when the Magic Pan crepe restaurants were all the rage, and flambeed crepes Suzette seemed the height of culture. Here, simpler ingredients fill these gently folded pillows, stuffed with lemon curd, caramelized apples, butter, sugar and about ten other goodies. Though it’s tempting to order them all, a best bet is to pick one or two fillings and save the rest for another visit.
Chef/owner Brian Anderson has little pizza boxes if you’d rather grab your crepes to go, and sit outside on a warm afternoon—something we highly recommend.
Bistro 29 is at 620 Fifth St., Santa Rosa, bistro29.com, open for lunch Tuesday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 2p.m.