SOUTH PORTLAND — Willard Square has been a foodie hot spot for more than a decade because of Scratch Baking Co. and its coveted bagels, breads and sweets.
But the mostly residential neighborhood near Willard Beach is now a bona-fide culinary mecca with the opening of Flip Creperie across the street.
The little storefront restaurant opened in July and is turning out paper thin, light-as-air crepes with fillings like imported Raclette cheese, creme fraiche, roasted potatoes, Parisian-style ham and soubise (an onion cream sauce).
The eatery also offers a wondrous surprise called a tartiflette, a potato and cheese casserole from the French Alps, for $8.50.
It’s a baked combination of potatoes, tangy creme fraiche, shallots, bacon and white wine with imported Raclette cheese melting over everything. It’s served in a paper dish.
The place is run by Shawn Rains and Jessica Bell, who left corporate jobs to pursue their passion for French food and trained in Saint-Malo, France. On a recent visit, as my family and I ate our crepes and tartiflette, Bell came out several times to ask if everything was satisfactory. Yes, we said, times 10.
The eatery has eight or 10 stools at two counters, including one where you can watch Rains flip crepes. There are also a couple of small tables. There are some chairs on the sidewalk outside and some picnic tables on a lawn on the side of the building. The latter is where is where we ate, under umbrellas.
The savory crepes, called galettes, were extremely filling and large. They ranged in price from $6 to $9 on a recent visit. The sweet crepes, with house-made whipped cream, preserves, chocolate, fruits and other fillings, ranged from about $4.50 to $7.
Besides trying, and loving, the tartiflette, I had a crepe with Parisian-style ham, roasted potato, baby spinach, Swiss and raw-milk Comte cheeses, and creme fraiche for $8.75. Like the tartiflette, it was unlike anything I’d had before. The crepe, made with Breton-style buckwheat flour, was thin and extremely light. And the fillings blended together wonderfully. I ate the whole thing because it was so good, but it was so filling I didn’t really need to.
My daughter Dinah had, for lunch, a sweet crepe with house-made salted caramel, pecans and house-made whipped cream for $7. There were five different savory crepes on the menu plus eight sweet crepes. You could add fillings to your crepes too, including things like chicken, chorizo sausage and soubise.
The crepes and tartiflette we ate at Flip were not the kind of thing one would expect to sample in a paper serving dish from a little storefront eatery in South Portland.
WHERE: 429 Preble St., Unit 2, South Portland
HOURS: 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday; 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday.
WAIT: About 10 to 15 minutes.
PARKING: On street
WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE: No