If you think Baltimore has a lot of lake-trout and pizza/cheese-steak places, multiply their number by about a thousand and you'll come up with a rough approximation of the number of creperies lining the streets of Paris.
Along the busy Rue Mouffetard, for example, dozens of low-cost crepe places are open almost around the clock, their ever-ready crepe grills fired up and the big containers of Nutella and cinnamon-sugar at the ready.
Baltimore isn't Paris, but we do have another new crepe place in Charm City: the City Crepes Cafe in Federal Hill.
The smart-looking little eatery on Light Street has plenty of charm -- lovely photos and drawings of European beach scenes and a nice seaside mural out front. Hip little lights decorate the serving area and there are cute tables for those who eat in or want to hang out and drink cappuccino.
There are a couple of salads and a daily soup on the menu, but this place is all about the crepes. We sampled widely and found the actual crepes to be quite good; the stuffing ingredients, though, could use a little refinement.
We were skeptical about the Santa Fe crepe ($6.95) with its mix of shredded beef, avocado chunks and salsa, but we enjoyed what was, for all intents and purposes, a nice French burrito.
The Paris crepe ($6.95) tried hard, but may have had too much going on, with goat cheese, apple slices, nuts and spinach dip. The cordon-bleu crepe ($6.95) included turkey, ham and Swiss cheese, which sounded terrific. But the cook used diced cubes of turkey and ham, which didn't meld effectively with the cheese and crepe; thin slices of meat would work much better.
We also tried the house salad with goat cheese and walnuts ($5.95). The balsamic vinaigrette that came with it was a winner, and we liked the soft cheese. The promised walnuts were actually pecans, which was fine with us.
For dessert, we tried two sweet crepes, one with Nutella, a chocolate-hazelnut spread ($4.95), and one with brown sugar and lemon ($2.95). Both were delicious and reinforced the notion that holds true in both modern architecture and crepe-making: Less is more.
Parking can pose a challenge. There are meters on the streets and, if those are taken, a garage around the corner on West Street.
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City Crepes Cafe
Food: **1/2 (two stars and 1 half star)
Service: *** (three stars)
Waiting area: *** (three stars)
Parking: ** (two stars)
Where: 1107 Light St., Federal Hill
Hours: 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday; 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday; 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday
Prices: Crepes, salads, soup and coffee drinks, $2.95 to $7.95; credit cards accepted
Outstanding: ****; Good: ***; Fair or uneven: **; Poor: *