“ Cuisine: Crepes / Address: Carrera 11 - Calle 85, Bogotá, Colombia / Tel: +57 1 6105298 „
If I ruled the world and you all lived in Zoëstan or even if I dreamed a little smaller and was simply mayoress of Zoëville, I would make certain that there were a restaurant named for and dedicated to my two favourite foods. It would be called 'Peanut Butter and Chocolate'. Since for now I'm a mere Joe Bloggs (or should that be Zo- Bloggs), I have to make do with what there is, but lucky for all of us, there is Crepes y Waffles.
The best restaurant chain in South America (and beyond).
I have eaten in dozens of Crepes y Waffles in many different cities in 3 different countries, Mexico, Ecuador and Colombia. It's getting to the point where I check out the Crepes y Waffles coverage before I buy my ticket. God, they're good.
~~~ Links In A Strong, Unbeatable Chain ~~~
Crepes y Waffles is a restaurant chain that serves a standard menu in most branches. There are two types of outlet, a full restaurant and a Heladeria (ice cream shop). The full restaurants offer waitress service and many have a choice of indoor or outdoor seating. Many are located within shopping malls, while others can be found at airports and in popular tourist areas. There are clear consistencies between the design of the restaurants. They favour a light, airy look with lots of wood, and tables are simply set with paper place mats. In Colombia, if my guide book is to be believed, several branches specifically employ women from disadvantaged backgrounds. Crepes y Waffles branches are not too 'chainy' in appearance: remove the name and you could be in an independent place. I suppose a similar set up in the UK could be Bella Italia - not fast food but a familiar menu and a familiar set up.
~~~ Food, Super Glorious Food ~~~
The biggest disappointment would be if they didn't serve a good choice of their namesake dishes, non? Happily Crepes y Waffles has a HUGE choice of Crepes and Waffles, but they serve much more besides. Their menu has a number of sections. The first is crepes which are helpfully subdivided into vegetarian and meat. The vegetarian selection is huge and includes all sorts of yummy dishes. On our latest visit, Big Sis had the spinach, mozzarella, tomato and basil crepe which was served with a light sauce. I'm not normally a huge fan of savoury crepes, but this was yummy and perfect for a light lunch. They also have ones with everything from stir fried vegetables to curried tofu on offer, while their carnivorous section includes lots of chicken and prawn options. The menu is fab because it lists every ingredient in every dish (minus things like flour, sugar etc) so you know what vegetables and so on will be arriving.
Also on their menu are what they call 'Pitas'. I tried one of these in Medellin a few weeks ago, when I thought it would make a tasty but light lunch. It was certainly tasty, but much more substantial than I had imagined. Rather than a small Arabic bread, it was massive, thick and round like a pizza. It was served in its own pan covered with sauce, and almost groaning under the weight of the ingredients piled on top. Would I have one again? Maybe not because I REALLY love pizza and in my mind this is a poorer version of that, plus there are so many other delicious items on the menu, but should I ever be at a Crepes y Waffles catered event and find these on offer, I would certainly not say no.
In addition to the Pita, you can also shun crepes and waffles in favour of a salad. I ordered one of these in Cali a few weeks ago, again expecting a nice light lunch. Again, Crepes y Waffles thought otherwise and I was brought a massive bowl that could barely contain the ingredients. On my latest visit I ordered another, now knowing exactly what to expect. My salads were similar except one was Mozzarella, and the other Feta. Since Mozzarella comes in balls, some creative soul in the kitchen had decided to turn it into a face, complete with olive eyes and it was the cutest thing I had ever seen! Since Feta came cubed I didn't get another face this time, but aside from this everything I remembered was there: more lettuce than in Mr McGregor's garden, a generous helping of sliced black olives, THREE types of tomatoes (diced, cherry and sun-dried), neatly sliced onion and a delicate dressing of olive oil and balsamic topped with a few spoonfuls of pesto. Although there's an unbelievable amount of lettuce, there is plenty of the other ingredients too, and you don't get to the point, as in some restaurants, of having eaten all the toppings and having nothing but leaf left. The only thing I think I would change would be to chop up said leaves a little, as it took me a while to get through with knife and fork and I didn't think I could ask for the kitchen scissors I would use at home...
Other savoury options include starters (salads, Mozzarella tomato and soups) and some massive (sadly all meaty) concoctions served in a huge hollowed out bread 'bowl'.
Then comes the good stuff. Crepes and Waffles has almost as many sweet options as it does savoury. The main menu includes sweet crepes and waffles and mini waffles while they also offer a staggering selection of sundaes on their never-ending ice cream menu. Needless to say, over the years I have tried all of these. The crepes, waffles and mini waffles are quite repetitive in a good way, although it does mean you have to decide what base you want for your Nutella, vanilla ice cream and cream, or fruits of the forest selection, or bananas and caramel. We had the mini waffles this time and were presented with two fluffy, golden circles caked in Nutella, with a generous scoop of ice cream atop a bed of cream. It was just the right size for a shared pudding when you know you shouldn't really (and barely have room) but can't help yourself.
The ice cream menu, on the other hand, is the type of food porn normally only found in the M&S Ordering Catalogue. It is larger than the whole main menu and makes me openly and unashamedly drool. There are fancy ice cream sundaes that look good, simple ice creams served in fancy ways that look good (and provide great ideas for dinner parties), cakes with ice cream garnishes that look good and a fancy fondue that includes brownies, fruit, biscuits and mini balls of ice cream to dunk into a heated-by-a-tea light molten chocolate mess that looks incredible. (And it is - we tried it once in Mexico despite it costing about £7). You can also go for a simple cone or tub choosing from flavours ranging from the regular to the fancy - all sorts of tropical fruits, arrequipe while is like dulce de leche, and brownie among others. They also do an A-MA-ZING thing with profiterole shells which they fill with ice cream flavours of your choice and drown in sauce though I had this in Ecuador and haven't seen it on the menu here :(
The quality of the food is excellent. It's always piping hot and tasty, and the vegetables taste as if they've been freshly picked that morning. At the same time, the presentation is beautiful and makes it taste even better, from the way they delicately arrange toppings on a pita to the magnificent colours of the salad ingredients to the chocolate swirls used to decorate pudding plates. It looks as good as it tastes, and it tastes as good as it looks. This is the kind of food you want to take photos of. So I do (see the other side to get yourself drooling and booking a trip to this neck of the woods).
~~~ Drunk On All The Choice ~~~
I wouldn't normally mention much about drinks, but as with everything else at Crepes y Waffles, they're a cut above what you might find elsewhere. The standard soft drinks and hot drinks are available, but they also have a huge selection of freshly squeezed juices from the ordinary to the extra ordinary which are appealing. They also don't scrimp on the other choices, stocking both Coke Light and Coke Zero which few places here bother to do.
Something I like is that they don't serve ice in drinks as standard, and the drinks they serve are already icy cold. I don't like too much ice when the drink arrives before the meal as it often melts and dilutes the drink in the interim (as a well brought up child, I can make one drink last for a whole meal). You can of course ask for ice, and this tends to be brought out in a separate glass so you can choose how many cubes you fancy.
~~~Service With A Smile...From Both Sides ~~~
Crepes y Waffles is quite simply a lovely place to eat. I have understandably been served by dozens of different waitresses over the years but the service has never been anything but good and, on many occasions, has been outstanding. The staff really seem to enjoy their jobs and are quite attentive without being too in your face. You tend to get consistency with your server, but they are not too precious about allocations, and someone else will come over if you wave and yours is busy. Orders are taken easily, and my standard request (no mushrooms) has always been accepted without question - and, unlike in many other places, I always get what I order here, with all the special requests I send in. I think it helps that the food is not only made from fresh ingredients, but also clearly made fresh for you, so it's easy to add or amend.
I have only had two visits that I can remember where it was anything below excellent. This latest time my sister's drink was removed when there was maybe one big gulp left, though I think the waitress mistook it for ice. When I was in Cali the bill took a while to come, and I had to ask 3 times and then go to the counter, as I was in a bit of a rush.
I have eaten in Crepes y Waffles with friends and family, but I also often go alone too, especially when I'm travelling. I have never once felt uncomfortable taking up a table as a sole diner, and this is definitely not the kind of place where they give you a snooty 'table for 1?' look when you rock up.
The bills at Crepes y Waffles are helpful because they include a total with and without the suggested service charge (not quite 10%, so either excludes VAT or drinks, I'm not sure). I tend to leave the tip they calculate because I think they deserve it, though I would be able to deduct it if I ever had a really bad visit.
~~~ The Price Of Paradise ~~~
I would pay good money for the type of pleasure I get from a trip to Crepes y Waffles, but I rarely have to, as despite the top quality food and fabulous selection, the prices are quite reasonable. Main courses range from under $10,000 (£3.30) to over $20,000 for the fancier sea food. Crepes and waffles are cheaper, with many around the $7000 mark - the mini waffles are even cheaper. On our visit on Good Friday we paid $46,000 (just over £15) which roughly broke down as:
$6000 total for two soft drinks
$20,000 for my (expensive!) salad - it would have been $5000 cheaper had I gone for Mozzarella in lieu of Feta
$10,000 for my sister's savoury crepe
$6000 for our shared mini waffles
$4000 for the tip
We had a lovely time, sat in the sunshine, and were waited on hand and foot, so it seemed real value for money. Previously I've gone for just one dish and a drink and easily had change from $20,000 (£6.50)
~~~ Two Thumbs Up? ~~~
Definitely! I'd give them 10 thumbs up if I could. I adore Crepes y Waffles. The food is great, they have numerous veggie choices, the service is fab, and the prices are a lot lower than you might expect. I foresee many a trip ahead of me, both during this stint in Bogota and on future jaunts to South America or Spain. If they would only open one in Manchester, my life would be complete (and I might, finally, have a real reason to return home...)
Their website is in English (plus Spanish and Portuguese) and includes menu details and a branch locator plus more than a few photos to whet your appetite.
I've never eaten with kids, but I've regularly eaten near kids, who understandably love the menu choices and colouring packs provided. The parents like the high chairs.