As a child I ate crepes for dinner on Friday nights. Way back then Catholics could not eat meat on any Friday. My mother’s Friday meal was often palicinke (or crepes…her family was from Czechoslovakia) and tomato soup, from a can. I have fond memories of that meal despite it’s odd combination. The palicinke were simply filled with prune lekvar. Absolutely delicious! A deep and comforting memory of dark, cold evenings around the table. My mother would make a pile of the thin pancake-like delicacies and we were in charge of spreading the prune lekvar and rolling them up for ourselves.
Over the past few years there has been a crepe maker in a food truck at the Collingswood Farmers’ Market. Charlie’s Crepes. He works in a tiny food truck and hungry shoppers line up to breakfast on the parking lot. There’s a table with a cover where you can sit and eat family style. He’s there every Saturday from 8AM to noon….regardless of the weather.
For the past several weeks here the temperatures have felt in triple digits with high summer heat and humidity. And yet, Charlie continues to make his delicious filled crepes from eight to noon. While I am always tempted by his offerings, quite honestly, it’s been too hot for me!
Luckily, Charlie has his brick and mortar shop in the town in which I live, Merchantville. So yesterday I saw the OPEN sign and stopped in. The store is wonderful. Sparkling clean and lots of interesting design elements. The coolest ceiling fans I’ve ever seen (pun intended)! But most intriguing are the menu boards.
Charlie explained to me that one menu board is the “regular” stuff (which changes seasonally as Charlie works with local farmers for the choicest produce) and the other board is the “special” stuff.
As we chatted, he’s a really nice man, I made the decision to buy two savory crepes and two dessert crepes. While I was alone for lunch, I knew I would have to share when I got home.
I watched the master at work and saw the crepes being made (I always sacrifice the first crepe to the garbage when I make them). Lovely to watch. Charlie told me that he mixes up a large fresh container of batter and can tell when it is the correct consistency by the sound it makes while he’s mixing! And he never loses one.
The first crepe was Charlie’s Chicken described as “slow braised chicken served on an Asiago spinach crepe with basil caper cream sauce”. Ooh la la. The chicken was moist and tender, the sauce delicate and complimentary. Perfect!
Next I tried Charlie’s “Angel” which is “spinach and asiago with two poached eggs and a caper butter cream sauce”. Delicious! Poached eggs made a perfect combination with the other ingredients. (This crepe is only available for breakfast and lunch).
Charlie’s Crepes does make buckwheat batter for those concerned about gluten but he suggests you call ahead to make sure he has it fresh for you. Also, he is always willing to accommodate your tastes when making a crepe for you. Talk to him. Like I said a very nice man with great food in a very nice restaurant.
While I ate we talked. He says this summer has been extremely hot and uncomfortable in his little food truck but he loves making crepes and loves the people who come out to the Collingswood Farmers’ Market. The crepe fillings are made with Buck Wild Bison, Hillacres Pride Bacon, Schoeber’s peaches and apples, Viereck’s tomatoes, Savoie’s potatoes, Davidson’s mushrooms…to list a few. And Revolution Coffee’s special Charlie’s Blend.
Then it was time for dessert! I ordered the Banana with Nutella Sauce and whipped cream (which he makes himself)! And the Schober Orchards Caramel Apple Pie with homemade oat crumble and whipped cream. The best! Next time I’m going to bring some ice cream to top mine. (…Charlie allows BYOB and BYOIC).
Both desserts were superb and exactly as advertised.
When I asked Charlie what he wanted me to say to the Collingswood Farmers’ Market blog readers and others he became surprisingly shy. He wants people to know that he loves to cook, he loves to make crepes, his wife, Lisa, helps by making the sauces, he loves his regular customers both at the market and in the Merchantville store, and he wants to make everyone feel friendly, at home, comfortable.
He has limited inside eating space and bigger outside eating space on a patio covered by a pergola and surrounded by soft green grass, and games…like giant Jenga. Very child friendly.
Charlies cooks in his food truck every Saturday morning at the Collingswood Farmers’ Market. He’s in the middle of the market. You can’t miss his silver food truck kitchen with the table next to it. He’s there from 8am to noon. The rest of the week he’s at his store in Merchantville. If you’re coming from Collingswood, turn left at “That Donut Store” on Haddon Avenue, go north on Cuthbert Boulevard past the Courier Post building ( keep the Courier Post on your right and Camden Catholic High School on your left) until you dead end into Centre Street /Chapel Avenue in Merchantville (about a 5 minute ride)…and Charlie’s Crepes is in that shopping center. Charlie will be happy to see you and make you feel more than welcome…and then he’ll feed you delicious and comforting food in the form of crepes. Lots of free parking too!
For a number of years my two adult daughters and I would brunch on Sundays. Not every, but at least once a month. We like to eat local. Our Sunday brunch spots have all stopped serving brunch…except Charlie’s Crepes. We’ll be going there soon and often!
And as for palicinke…I think I’ll let Charlie handle those for me. Maybe I’ll even bring my own lekvar.
117 S. Centre Street
Hours at the market: 8AM to noon Every Saturday
Hours at the store: 9:30AM to 1PM, 4:30PM to 8PM
Eat in, eat out, pick up for take out.