Monday, 13 August 2007

The Hot Chocolate's Italian but are the Crêpes French? - Fraus Crepes and Chocolat

Saturday afternoon found us rushing to Queen Vic Market in a desperate but hopeful attempt to grab some cheap seafood and fresh bread during closing time discounting. Alas we got there just in time to see the last few stalls locking up and the only activity left to be seen were stallholders hosing down and mopping floors in preparation for next morning's opening. We were of course disappointed to miss out but as we strolled out amidst the market folks' final smoko banter and whistle tunes echoing down the emptied stalls, we were reminded of our admiration for these remarkably hardworking people as they completed their chores; only to do it all over again from break of dawn the very next day and the day after and so on, to supply us with fresh market produce. We were also suddenly aware that we had not eaten since breakfast and needed to find somewhere for immediate nourishment. By then the Market area was quiet and held no possibilities but as we walked back towards the car, I remembered a place I'd read about and had been waiting for an opportunity to try.

Fraüs Crêpes and Chocolat is a small cafe that specialises in Italian flavoured hot chocolates, together with its namesake crêpes. The cafe's interior has a homey feel with warm timber flooring and white, roughly painted brick walls. An interesting feature was a large square glass-panel cut into the flooring in front of the pay-counter on which one could stand and peer down at racks of wine stored in an underground cellar. Moving through the cafe, there were also tables located in a courtyard out the back so that meals and drinks can be enjoyed outdoors. A selection of savoury filled galettes made with buckwheat flour or sweet crêpes with dessert-like fillings were the main choice of meals here. So naturally, we chose one galette of grilled mediterranean vegetables ($12) and one sweet crêpe of poached pear with cinnamon ($7) to try. Both orders were generous serves that arrived on distinctive triangular plates. Each serve was definitely enough to share between two people unless one was particularly ravenous or particularly greedy. The savoury galette tasted alright but nothing special, with the medley of vegies (capsicums, mushrooms, black olives, etc.) not really showing much of a mediterranean char-grilled effect or taste, if they were supposed to. The vegetables appeared more 'steamed', trapped as they were within the galette but were nonetheless quite flavoursome, although the addition of some cheese such as a nice feta in the mix would have bound theme and flavours together even better. I thought the price was also a bit steep for a vegie-only pancake. The winner was the sweet crêpe served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, generously filled with poached pear slices (hopefully not simply from a can; I have my suspicions but as we were none the wiser, who cared) and with a very nice buttery and fluffy pancake. We also got a cup of that decadent Fraüs Italian hot chocolate ($3.80) in Gianduia flavour (blend of soft nuts and nougat) served thick, dark, rich and very sweet and just the thing for those requiring either a chocolate, or simply just a sweet, fix. There are 20 flavours to choose from so go wild! It was better than the short espresso which was lukewarm and so so.

The cafe was well staffed with young and friendly types despite us being there at a time that was probably towards the end of some shifts. Fraüs seemed like a popular and well known place with its niche creperie meals. A place more for those with a sweet tooth or a hot liquid chocolate fixation but definitely give it a try at least once! Perhaps following your next excursion to the Market for fresh produce.

Food: 3.5 spots - Something different for breakfast, brunch or later.
Service: 3.5 spots - Casual and friendly.
Value: 3 spots - Some savoury selections fall down on value.
R-Factor: 3.5 spots - Good place to bring out-of-towners after a morning at QVM.
Spot Score: 14/20

Fraüs Crêpes and Chocolat
345 Victoria Street, North Melbourne, VIC. 3051


IronEaters said...

sounds like a place worth visiting =) I would like to ask is the place a bit of walking distance from victoria market? thanks...

Towser said...

IronEaters, it's worth visiting for something different around QVM and only a short walk away. Go up Victoria St towards West Melb from the Peel St intersection and it's no more than a block or so away. Or to put it in foodie topography, start from the churros end of the Market, walk up Victoria St past Nandos chicken, go past some bulgogi places and voila, Fraus is on your left! Enjoy, and tell us what you think.