First Taste: Bar Breton

I don’t know what this place is, but I’m going to keep eating there.
Bar Breton

Crêpes are from Brittany and Cyril Renaud is from Brittany, but it was always unfair for me to walk into his restaurant Fleur de Sel and want thin, chewy pancakes. I mean, I have friends from Wisconsin, and I don’t expect them to be churning up cheese every time I visit them.

But after a little trip home to bone up on his crêpe and (buckwheat-based cousin) galette making, Renaud opened Bar Breton, and I was ready to get my batter and butter on.

It turns out that Bar Breton is not a French House of Pancakes—which is fine, and a lesson for me to stop projecting my desires onto other peoples’ businesses—but it’s not really clear what it wants to be. Galettes, all-brown, buckwheat-y earthiness with fillings that range from blue cheese and pear to smoked duck breast, do pop up all over the menu but seem a little buried in between thoughtfully considered items like a mellow leek soup with sweet crab ravioli or a rich, warm green bean salad with mint and hazelnuts. The menu veers from delicately priced, delicious snacks and salads ($7–$12) to pricey and well-prepared but slightly underwhelming main courses, half of which are cooked, inexplicably, on the Spanish griddle called a plancha. The staff is warm and cheery but forced to spend half the night with its forearms in your face because of the too high, too tight booths. From different angles, the room looks alternately like a sleek bar or an Ikea Swedish country house showroom, though to be fair it’s actually much more attractive than that description makes it sound.

Which brings me to my conundrum: I feel almost like an ingrate for being confused by Bar Breton’s concept, when this is a restaurant where you can have a delicious meal of a couple $7 plates, in a room that manages to be really pretty despite its weirdnesses. I’m coming back, and when I do, to paraphrase Eddie Murphy, I’m going to have a crêpe and a smile and shut the f— up.

Bar Breton 254 5th Ave., New York City (212-213-4999;

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