Eating in: Harrisburg, PA
On Sunday night I took the tiniest little trip to France. I had an hour and ten minute layover between Greyhound buses in Harrisburg, PA. It was 6 o’clock: dinner time! On my previous layover, I’d figured out that the only food in the station was from a convenience store upstairs: coffee, chips, candy bars, refrigerated sandwiches featuring the over-processed meat of your choice. I’d also figured out that I was near Strawberry Square, Capitol Park, and a bunch of restaurants. Since it was a Sunday evening, it was pretty quiet – lots of places looked closed, other places looked like they’d take too long for my short layover, and other places were fast food. But with one little turn off Market Street, I found Au Bon Lieu, meaning “a good place.”
This tiny creperie is truly a good place.
With two outdoor tables and five indoor tables, the atmosphere is friendly and homey. Each table has chalk on it for drawing on the sidewalk outside. Each crepe is handmade to order from the extensive menu of sweet and savory crepes.
I was greeted like an old friend and offered the menu. I eyeballed it for a few minutes and then was offered some suggestions: “How about something simple? Like number 1?” It was as if he had read my mind, I’d been reading the menu more out of curiosity than decision making because crepe number 1 is tomato and brie topped with egg. Yes, please! He offered coffee to go with it and I accepted.
The coffee was also made to order, high-quality coffee. I drank it black, which always means it’s a good cup of coffee. I sipped it and watched the passersby, imagining the cafe was just a few streets from the Gare de Lyon in Paris. (A girl can dream…) A well-dressed couple with a well-groomed small dog completed the illusion as they sat laughing and sharing a dessert crepe at one of the outdoor tables. I was ready to settle in for the whole evening. (Had that coffee been a glass of wine, I would have missed my bus for sure.)
And then my dinner arrived.
If you’ve never tasted brie dripping with egg yolk, you haven’t really eaten. These two rich foods complement each other to create a super-rich, silky, delicious mouthful. The tomatoes were fresh and lightly cooked, providing just the right amount of acid to cut through the cheese and egg. Combine that with a perfectly cooked crepe (crispy at the edges, tender in the center) and you have a dinner that will make you feel so relaxed you just might forget where you are, what time it is, and that you’re perfectly full.
So then when asked if you’d like dessert, you’ll say yes, even though you spent the previous five minutes sipping coffee and mentally talking yourself out of ordering a sweet crepe. You’ll order “a small one” at the suggestion of your enabler (and delightful new friend), the crepe-maker (is there a French word for that? probably).
Sweet options range from crepes stuffed with fruit and Nutella to the “Classique” section of the menu, which features flavors like pine nuts and sugar. I chose the lemon and sugar: a sweet crepe filled with just a bit of lemon curd and coarse sugar topped with confectioner’s sugar and three blueberries, plus homemade whipped cream on the side.
Would I eat there again?
See above. I hope you don’t need further clarification. But to be blunt (just in case): I will eat there every single time I have a layover in Harrisburg.