Creperies, carts and fancy brunches put their own spin on the French pancake

After 10 years as a stay-at-home dad, Wayne Moore found himself at a crossroads. His children were grown. His wife was in school. It was time to go back to work.

"I thought, 'I can cook. And I can cook crepes,' " says Moore, who grew up making the thin French pancakes at home. So, in late 2010, he took his crepe-flipping skills and built a restaurant around it, opening Village Crepe in the town center of Pickerington.

There, Moore fills traditional crepes with sweet stuffings including homemade preserves, bananas and hazelnut spread, and lemon curd, ricotta and honey. He recently introduced a salty caramel crepe made with cream cheese, caramel sauce and sea salt. He sells 20 percent more of this Jeni's-inspired crepe than any other on his menu, which features a few savory offerings, too.

"We'll put anything in a crepe here," says Moore, who doesn't just change up the fillings-he offers specialty batters, too, such as espresso, red velvet and sweet potato. "It makes it easier for us as restaurant because we do something new every week."

Crafting a perfect crepe is simultaneously simple and complex: Simple in ingredients (milk, eggs and flour) but complex in the execution, which involves spreading and flipping a very thin layer of batter. And, just like the good, old American pancake, the crepe's base recipe allows for a wide range of interpretations.

Just ask Matt Pewanger of Cookie Cravings Bakery. Inspired by the nontraditional crepe cart he frequented on his honeymoon, Pewanger offers an all-inclusive approach to crepes. In addition to classic sweet crepes, such as lemon and blueberry, specials have included gyro and meatball crepes. On the regular menu, the Cuban crepe uses braised pork cheeks, gruyere, pickled vegetables and Dijon mustard.

"Crepes are completely a blank slate," he says. "You don't have to be married to a certain ingredient. They're a great vehicle."

Crepe Cravings

You can count on most other local creperies to offer similar sweet versions with classic combos of lemon, Nutella or fruit. But it's in the savory options where Columbus chefs really have their fun. Check out a few of these surprising crepe offerings.

For Something Savory:

• Leslie's Creperie flips crepes loaded with combinations of eggs, cheese and chicken from their traveling cart. Try their feta and spinach crepe for a hand-held snack filled with a healthful flavor.

• Rosa Huff at Crepes A La Carte features a gourmet line-up of crepes from her food cart. The ham and cheese blends thin-sliced capocollo with gruyere, while the caprese mixes tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil pesto.

• Taste of Belgium inside North Market may be known best for their Liege-style waffles, but they serve up some mean crepes as well. Try a spicy turkey crepe with salsa and pepper jack. Cincinnati natives can find a taste of home in the 'Nati, with eggs, goetta, provolone, roasted peppers and onions.

For Weekend Brunch:

• Crepes are a mainstay of many brunch menus because of their complexity and flexibility. The Worthington Inn runs a farmers market breakfast all day Saturday. The menu features a buckwheat crepe with fresh berry compote, cream and powdered sugar.

• Downtown on Gay Street, Due Amici serves crispella del giorno: crepes filled with rotating seasonal fruits and veggies. The delicate crepes pair nicely with a Bloody Mary or mimosa.

Nicholas Dekker blogs about breakfast at breakfastwithnick.com. His book "Breakfast With Nick: Columbus" is a complete guidebook to the morning meal.