A few years ago, I met Yafit Barades, the owner of The Crepe + Kitchen at the corner of Wilshire Boulevard and La Brea Avenue. I was struck by the sweet hospitality she extended to every guest. Her charming personality was contagious.
New menu items at Olio Crepe Kitchen include the fallafel spinach wrap, served with three sauces. The falafel is air-dried, rather than fried, resulting in a lighter version of this popular Mediterranean sandwich.
Yafit prepared a delicious tuna panini sandwich and a fresh strawberry and banana crepe for me. Both were excellent and inspired me to write a glowing review.
Recently, Yafit invited me back to her café to learn about some exiting new changes. The café has a new owner and is now called Olio – The Crepe Kitchen.
Yafit’s menu still exists, but there are some great additions. She will continue working at the cafe for another six months, while she seeks a new culinary endeavor somewhere in Southern California.
As we stood outside admiring the new front dining patio, a woman with five dogs tethered together walked toward us. It looked like an Iditarod race with small furry mutts pulling a large cart on wheels.
The woman said she is from Nevada and currently without a home. She was taking her dogs down to the beach to cool down. It was too hot in the city, and she hoped to get to the beach by sundown. Yafit asked if she and the dogs needed water and food. The woman said the dogs were fine, but she was hungry. Without skipping a beat, Yafit went into her restaurant and fetched a sandwich and bottle of water from the refrigerated case. She rushed back out with a care package to give to this woman. The woman was touched by Yafit’s thoughtful gesture and generosity. I was too.
It was lunchtime and the café was filling up with locals. Two staff members were loading up wicker baskets with sandwiches, chips and beverages. They visit office buildings in the neighborhood, selling lunch items to workers sitting at their desks. Within 20 minutes, the baskets came back empty ready to be re-filled for another delivery.
“I learned this idea from Paula Deen,” Yafit said. “She made sandwiches and meals and then had her sons Jamie and Bobby deliver them through the streets of Savannah.”
On the cart, chips and drinks are just $1, sandwiches are $6, and wraps are $7. “L.A. is hectic during lunch time with traffic, Metro construction in front of the café, and lack of parking,” Yafit said. “We help those working nearby by delivering a fresh lunch to their desk, so they can relax and enjoy their lunch hour.”
New Mediterranean plates are from products made in Egypt by Olio, a food processing and distribution company. The new owner of Olio in Los Angeles is introducing Angelenos to his 35 different food products by serving some at the café.
I tried the Olio falafel in a green spinach wrap with lettuce, red onion and tomatoes. It’s served with a salad and three sauces. I especially like the spiked Sriracha mayo. The falafel is heated in a special air-machine and not deep fried in oil. This type of preparation uses 40 percent less oil than traditional falafels.
Also on the menu is a Mediterranean plate with falafel, baked spinach sambousek (a triangular snack that is common in a mezze plate) and potato croquettes with a dipping sauce. The croquettes are made with mashed potatoes, milk, salt, pepper, chopped onion, flour and beaten egg yolks. The mezze plate is good, however I wish the croquettes were a little crispier.
A few new drinks include an iced Nutella Groundworks coffee with whipped cream. Other coffee drinks are double espresso, Americano, traditional macchiato, latte, cappuccino, mocha, dirty chai, chai latte and hot chocolate.
Yafit is working with the bottled water company Generosity. “It is one of the highest quality alkaline water with a pH balance of 10.0 and for every bottle purchased, Generosity will give clean water to two people for one month,” Yafit said.
She also has five cold pressed bottles of lemonade in her refrigerated cooler. There is a ginger lemonade, strawberry lemonade, turmeric tangerine and jalapeño lemonade. Her favorite is the cold pressed charcoal beverage made with lemon, agave, charcoal and alkaline water. “It’s great for an upset stomach and hangover,” Yafit said.
Yafit is an expert at making crepes, like a colorful Italiano crepe with turkey, melted mozzarella and cheddar, fresh arugula, spinach, basil, tomatoes and roasted peppers.
For dessert instead of a sweet crepe, I tried a chunky walnut brownie made by Embrace Sweets. It was a square was of rich, dark Belgian chocolate that was layered with slightly toasted, whole, walnuts.
Come in and enjoy the new cuisine at Olio – The Crepe Kitchen. Be sure to say hello to Yafit and you will receive a warm and friendly greeting.
Open Monday through Fridays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Delivery service is available on Grubhub and Caviar. $ 5223 Wilshire Blvd. (323)933-3403. http://www.crepespluskitchen.com.
This review was published in the July 6, 2016 Beverly Press and Park LaBrea Newspapers.