Whilst my sister was waiting for a train at Upminster, we decided to nip in to a nearby café for some lunch. Opposite the station we spied Café Baccarat, which looked like an artisan, rustic café with heavy French influences, which was so confirmed when we entered, and the only menu we could see was one for sweet or savoury crepes.
With white wooden panelling sweeping across the walls, the hanging space also acted as an advert the local framer who also used the premises, displaying scenic shots that were loaded in next to each other eagerly, filling every inch of wall space. The quirky green seats were rounded and soft, neatly tucked under wooden square tables. The place was empty, so we chose a rectangular table of four for Jess, my mum and me and since we couldn’t see a menu for any other style of food, we went straight for the crepes.
The different flavours available sounded divine, and I had trouble narrowing it down, although I eventually went for strawberry, extra thick cream, Nutella and biscuit, which cost £4.50. I dismissed the savoury pancakes pretty pronto as I am much more drawn to the sweeter flavours. Ordering our crepes and drinks – my typical cappuccino – we settled back to wait for our food.
When my cappuccino arrived, I was actually really impressed – it looked gorgeous and the presentation was thoughtful and elegant, with chocolate sauce forming a floral circular design, lines coming from the centre fanning out to form a star shape on top. The froth on top was smooth and silky with more of a chocolate tone, and it felt like a real treat to drink, the coffee being just as smooth and rich in flavour. If this was the coffee, we were looking forward to seeing what the crepes could offer.
Unfortunately, disappointment was just around the corner. The staff on hand clearly had no idea what to do. Crepes are very thin pancakes, and if the batter is already made, and your circular heating plate ready to go, then they take a couple of minutes maximum to cook. I looked over to the counter and saw that the batter was usefully placed next to the circular plate they use to cook the pancakes. Yet, I waited nearly 25 minutes for my one pancake. The waitress brought me mine, before going back to wait to get Mum’s before bringing it to her. We had to wait about an additional 20 minutes for hers, and by that time I had eaten all of mine. They took so long that Jess had to cancel hers, otherwise she would have missed her train! I just can’t get over how inept and ridiculous it is that we had to wait so long for two wafer thin pancakes, when the batter was already prepared and the cooking equipment ready. It was ludicrous and really tarnished our lunch as we couldn’t actually eat together.
The pancake itself wasn’t even that fab. Served on a circular white plate, the pancake itself was nice, but they were incredibly scrimping on the toppings, although I understand they were trying to be arty – arty doesn’t fill me up when I’m hungry. As a big chocolate fan, I love Nutella and one of the highlights of pancakes is that it is usually smothered on. Here, it was delicately drizzled in an up and down motion, not even covering all the pancake. The strawberries were diced into small quarters to spread them out further – naturally cut into halves means they would have had to put more on there. The biscuit bits were nice and added a good texture contrast, the caramel tones of the biscuit enhancing the fresh strawberry and the squidgy pancake, how the cream was pretty much non-existent so I don’t even know why they put that on the menu.
Although the pancake was nice, I wouldn’t rate it at all. The crepe was a decent size but the fillings or toppings were lacklustre and used far too sparingly. Yes, the plate looked stunning, but I would rather the ingredients in a jumble and to be able to eat my pancake hot after five minutes, and at the same time as my Mum rather than wait over half an hour to see any signs of life from the guy making the pancakes. I didn’t hear the price when Mum went to pay as I put my coat on, but I saw her raised eyebrows so assumed it was more expensive that it should have been for the delayed and poor service.
It was different finding somewhere that did crepes and the pancake menu does sound delish, but the café needs to invest in staff who actually know what they are doing, and who cans serve customers confidently and quickly. It was torture watching this guy trying to make a single crepe and the long wait confirmed it. Not a great spot for lunch.