Can something as simple as a banana and Nutella crêpe be life-altering? It was for Jeff Kraus. The first time he tasted a lacy Parisian crêpe smeared with warm Nutella, folded over ripe, sliced bananas, he had an a-ha moment.
In 2009, shortly after returning to Phoenix from his vacation in France, he started a food truck featuring sweet and savory French crêpes, the first of the new “gourmet” mobile trucks to hit the Valley. Kraus garaged his award-winning Truckin’ Good Food Truck in 2011 and opened Crêpe Bar, a brick and mortar storefront in south Tempe, this past June.
There was little doubt a banana and Nutella crêpe would be on the Crêpe Bar menu, and in a nod to that fateful French encounter, he named his Parisian classic “First Time” ($5.25).
Kraus sweetens his savory crêpe batter with vanilla and sugar, and gives it a proper rest to allow the gluten to relax, creating a tender pancake. He griddles the crêpe to order on an electric range at a blistering 450 degrees Fahrenheit. The generous smear of Nutella (chocolate hazelnut spread) melts immediately. Instead of a traditional quarter-fold, Kraus rolls a half banana up in the Nutella-bathed crêpe and slices the roll into three pieces, exposing layers of crêpe, Nutella and banana.
The remaining banana half is sprinkled with a mixture of granulated sugar and molasses and torched to caramelize the sugar, providing a slight bitter taste to offset the rich Nutella. Upgrade the crêpe with spiced walnuts for 25 cents or fresh berries for 50 cents, and you won’t forget your First Time.
7520 S. Rural Rd., Tempe