“The tomato tart is a real success,” says Laurent Prescelti, owner and founder of Crepes & Croissants on Sumter Street in Columbia. In his native French accent, Prescelti adds that Columbians are intrigued by the many savory crepes on his menu. The “Italy” is an especially popular item, with its mozzarella, basil marinated chicken and tomato.
Crepes are made to order and are filled with everything from brie, goat cheese and mozzarella to chili-seasoned ground beef, cheddar and BBQ sauce. The “Provence” is a vegetarian crepe with homemade ratatouille (Prescelti’s mother’s recipe). The “Switzerland” has potatoes, bacon and raclette cheese. Sweet crepes also offer a variety: bananas with hot melted chocolate, “Classic” sugar and cinnamon, Nutella and strawberry. A combo special includes a savory crepe and a sweet crepe. The restaurant also offers a tomato tart with Dijon mustard, tomato, Swiss, herbs, olive oil and puff pastry, a zucchini and blue cheese tart, and “Quiche Lorraine” with ham, egg, heavy cream and Swiss. Desserts are authentically French: chocolate mousse, crème brulee, meringue, parfait yogurt and macaroons. “I also make ‘real’ hot chocolate, with milk, cream and melted chocolate,” says Prescelti.
Those who taste Prescelti’s croissants often comment that they are the only ones in the city that taste like the “real thing.” In order for a croissant to be the “real thing,” a painstaking process must take place so that the croissant is light and flaky. Croissants are sold separately, as well as those filled with chocolate or served with Nutella, and they are used to make a few of the sandwiches on the menu, including those with bacon, brie, salmon or a mix of vegetables. A homemade soup du jour is offered daily as well.
Prescelti, raised in France, desired to open a French restaurant in the United States. A friend recommended Columbia. After visiting, he says it felt right – especially with the possibility of downtown Columbia making a comeback. Last May, he opened Crepes & Croissants on Sumter Street. Family recipes are on the menu. Prescelti’s training in food preparation in France prepared him in the culinary art of crepe making, as well as provided him with the skills to make other French favorites.
“I’m really happy to be here,” says Prescelti, who is being asked by schools to share aspects of French culture. He adds that he is enthusiastic about the activity downtown: the holiday ice skating rink in front of the Columbia Art Museum and the Main Street farmer’s market open every Saturday. Prescelti’s family still resides in France, but his mother recently came for a visit and shared more recipes — including an apple tart — with him.
An open café with exposed kitchen and glass cases with desserts, drinks and croissants. Customers order at the counter. Colors are muted grays, browns and teal. Regular and bistro tables sit atop a hardwood floor.
During the weekdays, Prescelti says the café is packed with customers who work at nearby businesses, as well as at Palmetto Baptist and area physicians’ offices. On the weekends, the café attracts groups of families and friends and downtown residents — especially to its Saturday and Sunday brunch. Students from the University of South Carolina also patronize Crepes & Croissants.