"We all get swept up in the hype machine.
Nobody is immune to that."
Who hasn't heard all the hype about Chez Maman? From french burgers to their mussel specialties, there has been a buzz about this restaurant for years. Queue my excitement to hear the mere 15 minute wait for Thursday dinner at Chez Maman West, the culinary satellite in Hayes Valley. Even more surprising, though, was the less-than-impressive supper I entertained that night.
Smoked Salmon Crepe "with salad"
Fine Herbs Crème Fraîche, Spinach & Shallots
I was in the mood for a light dish, and craving a fresh leafy green salad, so naturally I ordered the Smoked Salmon Crepe, said to come with a salad, and filled with fine herbs, crème fraîche, spinach and shallots.
First things first: Can we please discuss the indisputable fact that a few sprinkles of arugula does not a salad make? When a menu writes "Crepes (served with salad)," this is not what a hungry diner is expecting to receive.
Secondly, there should be a disclaimer somewhere on the menu (or via the waiter at the very least), to inform the customer that at Chez Maman West, the crepes are enveloped with buckwheat. While buckwheat is considered a superfood, it is simply not what I was expecting when I ordered what I believed to be a light French crepe. Buckwheat is dense, heavy and extremely earthy. Combine this with overly-smoked salmon, and you have an overload of extremely bland, earthy flavor. Simply put, it did not taste good.
Les Moules: Provencale
Tomato Concassee, Basil, Garlic & Bell Peppers
Luckily, Nick ordered the Provencale Mussels, with tomato concassee, basil, garlic and bell peppers. These were tasty and not at all misleading. One thing I would improve on is the sauce - it seemed a watered-down, and could have had more flavor to it.
Perhaps it was the hype of Chez Maman that led to my dining disappointment, or the misleading menu boasting of crepes with salads. Whatever it was, I left unimpressed.
My choice for a light crepe dish with a healthy salad turned out to be an uber-smoked, salmon-filled buckwheat monstrosity that I was unprepared for, with a light sprinkle of arugula in place of the promised salad.
The hostess was very nice and friendly, but our waiter seemed uninterested and unhelpful. He didn't tell us anything about the menu, and failed to inform us of the crucial difference of their crepe ingredients.
While the decor was inviting and French-chic, the menu was misleading and the food unflavorful. The extremely bland, earthy flavor of my crepe was not worth the $12 price tag. I'd sooner recommend any of Squat & Gobble's light crepes with a human-sized salad for about $10.