Dining on a budget: Valerie’s Crepes in Arcadia

By Evelyn Barge

There’s an erudite Greek term for people like me: turophile, or one who fancies cheese.

No strange epicurean trend has thrilled me more than the growing prevalence of cheese cake – that’s not the dessert cheesecake, mind you – towers as an alternative to a traditional wedding cake. If I ever tie the knot, you can bet I’ll say “I do” to that option.

So, knowing that about me, it’s no wonder that my first dining experience at Valerie’s Crepes in Arcadia was such a disappointment.

I stepped up to the free-standing crepe kiosk in the food court of Westfield Santa Anita Shopping Center tempted by the promise of great things. The staff was busy preparing several orders ahead of mine, and the crepe batter was being skillfully poured and thinly spread on the griddle.

Jars of Nutella stacked high behind the glass counter gave me a visual cue to go for a sweet selection, the apple brie crepe ($6.29), which is billed to include apple slices, brie, walnuts and raspberry preserves.

The crepe that I was handed, and for which my receipt shows I was clearly billed, did contain a bunch of fresh apple slices – but that’s about it.   

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In lieu of the handful of unaccounted-for elements, the preparer had sprinkled on some cinnamon. A healthy dollop of ice cream plopped on top of the folded crepe did very little to combat the overwhelming affect of a dry, powdery mixture.

When planning to eat dinner at any mall, there are few things I expect less than a peaceful mealtime. Obviously, the folks at Valerie’s can do little to alter their surroundings – mine involved being sandwiched by a giggling clique of teenage girls and a family with clunky stroller in tow.

But Valerie’s staff could at least make an effort to counteract the enveloping chaos by living up to their promise of a “gourmet menu” with “mouthwatering ingredients.” (Hint: Ingredients can’t cause your mouth to water if they don’t exist.)

After slogging through five bites of my apple “brie” crepe, a brilliant solution came to mind. I plucked up and asked for a to-go container and made my escape from the shopping complex.

From there, I proceeded to drive home to my apartment, open up the refrigerator and retrieve the sole thing that could rescue this remainder of crepe from further humiliation: brie, obviously.

Hey, Valerie’s, ever heard of it?

Valerie’s Crepes is located in the Westfield Santa Anita Shopping Center, 400 S. Baldwin Ave., in Arcadia. Hours are Mon.-Fri., 10:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.; Sat., 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Sun., 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

For more information, call (626) 821-6504 or visit www.valeriescrepes.com.