Sofi's is on a roll with its good crepes, fast service

TAKEOUT

Tiny restaurant is in a happening area

Takeout

May 19, 2004|By Tom Waldron | Tom Waldron,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Sofi's is tucked into a prime - but tiny - space on North Charles Street, sandwiched between the Charles and Everyman theaters.

The L-shaped eatery has room for only a couple of customers and a modest kitchen. So it was quite sensible for Sofi's owner to limit the menu to one thing - crepes, crepes and more crepes.

Ooh, la, la, the Sofi's folks have quickly mastered the crepe thing. And this colorful boutique of a restaurant is a welcome addition to what has become one of the city's hopping nighttime blocks.

On a recent evening, with the Maryland Film Festival in full swing, Sofi's Crepes was hustling to keep up with the demand for thin, stuffed pancakes. Service, though, was attentive and prompt, and several smiling customers left the shop gobbling down crepes wrapped in paper. Others sat at one of the sidewalk tables out front.

We tried four dinner crepes. Our group inhaled one with ham, delicious Gruyere cheese and Dijon mustard ($7). A second one came with nice chunks of real turkey and a surprisingly good cranberry chutney ($7). The menu promised pesto mayonnaise, and while there was certainly some mayo, there was precious little basil flavor. But we weren't complaining.

A spinach, mushroom and pine-nut crepe ($7) lacked a little something, while the cheddar cheese and tomato offering ($6) combined nice textures and got us thinking about the glory days of ripe local tomatoes that will soon be here.

Sofi's offers a dozen dessert crepes with fillings ranging from homemade butterscotch to caramel. (The staff will also customize your order.)

All of the three we tried were winners, but the best was the Samore ($5). While the menu claimed we would find chocolate, melted marshmallows and graham-cracker crumbs inside the crepe, we tasted mainly chocolate. But it was a deep, rich chocolate that packed plenty of flavor and put us all in a good mood.

The Plain Jane ($4) had a hint of lemon juice and sugar, while the Nutty Banana ($5) combined Nutella (a chocolate hazelnut spread once endorsed by Kobe Bryant) and banana slices.

Parking is available on the street, although not necessarily on the same block, as well as in a garage and nearby lots.

Sofi's Crepes

Food: ***

Service: *** 1/2

Waiting area: **

Parking: ** 1/2

Where: 1723 N. Charles St., Baltimore

Phone: 410-727-7732

Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Thursday through Saturday; noon to 8 p.m. Sunday

Prices: Savory crepes with cheese, turkey, bacon, avocado, etc., from $6 to $7; dessert crepes from $4 to $5; credit cards accepted

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