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Back to Basics: Clayton's City Coffeehouse and Creperie Remains Successful

City Coffeehouse and Creperie brings international flair and French flavor to Clayton.

in is a sweet little restaurant with an interesting mélange of ideas, nationalities and great recipes. It is the brainchild of restaurant business veterans Ray and Anne Gallardo.

Anne dreamed of opening a coffeehouse with pastries and that, combined with experiences in the French countryside and with crepe carts in Paris, inspired her to open the creperie in Clayton in 1995. The creperie offers a variety of sweet and savory crepes as well as  pastries, quiches, sandwiches, soups, salads, coffees, espressos, teas and smoothies.

Anne did not have formal culinary training, but that didn't stop her from cooking many of the crepes and pastries served in the restaurant. Informal training included classes at the , where some creperie staff now teach. She attributes much of her 16-year success to the basics.

"The basics: quality, good service, providing a nice atmosphere for people to dine in and using the freshest ingredients possible, I believe, is what has helped us stay in business," Anne said.

Diners walk up to the counter (as you would a cart in France), order their crepes and watch while they are handcrafted. Guests may order off the rustic chalkboard menu or have the chef make something to order. The crepes are made with white or organic buckwheat flour. Pastries are made in-house by Carlo, one of the restaurant's chefs.

The creperie began as a simple establishment with a handful of tables. Since its opening, it has expanded twice and today features an enclosed patio. The restaurant serves breakfast and lunch. The enclosed patio offers seating year-round, and large windows allow for people-watching—"even in a snow storm," Anne said. The resetaurant also offers outdoor seating in temperate seasons on Saturdays and Sundays.

The menu includes authentic French crepes as well as St. Louis offerings. During my visit, I had the pleasure of trying two crepes. I craved a trip to the South of France, so I ordered the Provence ($7.60), a crepe filled with French brie, sliced apples and walnuts, and garnished with red grapes. That, coupled with robust Green Mountain coffee, made for a wonderful breakfast.

For dessert, I could not resist trying the chocolate (Nutella), strawberry and banana crepe ($6.75). It was sublime. Another Europe-inspired crepe is the Tuscany ($7.80), made with classic Italian pesto, provolone cheese, fresh basil, fresh tomatoes, roasted red peppers and spinach.

If the name Gallardo sounds familiar, it should. The Gallardos were the original owners of Casa Gallardo, which was sold to General Mills in 1975. Ray Gallardo also owned Ozzie's Restaurant and Bar, which has since closed. Now, all of their energy is focused on the creperie.

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