In the window at T-Swirl Crepe in Carrollton is a collection of life-sized, polymer crepes. These beauties are filled with fruit that will never rot, scoops of mossy green matcha ice cream that can’t melt and shrimp that will remain ever-fresh.
They provide a startlingly accurate depiction of the food that inspired them. The crepes at T-swirl are the rare franchised food product that look as good in person as they do in their advertisements — or when compared with their synthetic clones.
T-Swirl in Carrollton’s Korea Town is the first Texas location for this New York-based franchise. It serves Japanese crepes, which differ from their French ancestor in that they utilize a rice-flour batter in lieu of buckwheat or wheat. The texture is lighter, slightly chewy and more crisp than a traditional crepe, making a Japanese crepe a perfect conveyor for a wide variety of flavors. They are very popular snacks in Japan and predominantly feature sweet fillings. T-Swirl’s menu, however, offers dessert and savory options.
Once inside the creperie, you are greeted by three things: the faintly sweet, warm smell of crepes cooking; a smiling cashier; and a television that plays a perpetually looping T-swirl commercial. This commercial is fantastic for its B-movie-level acting and awkward, ill-advised romantic plot points and its demonstration of T-swirl’s crepe-making process. It shows, for instance, that sauces are not merely run vertically down the midsection of the crepe, but are instead laid out in strategic, gridlike patterns across the crepes. This results in a consistent eating experience, with each bite containing each ingredient in equal proportion.
Crepes cost about $8. On the sweet side, you'll find a host of tempting options, including the Lychee Romantic, a floral combination of lychees, raspberries and rose custard cream, and the Matcha Azuki Bean, filled with matcha gelato, chocolate Pocky sticks and red-bean paste.
On the savory side, an Okinawa hot dog crepe features banana ketchup, and an egg white, shiitake and truffle oil version keeps things a bit lighter. T-Swirl offers two other savory vegetarian options. The rest of the savory menu is dedicated to meat, featuring riffs on everything from BLTs to tuna nicoise.
With 22 fixed-option (no build-your-own) crepes to choose from, there's bound to be something that appeals to each member of your brunch crew. Try the chicken teriyaki with sliced chicken breast intermingled with baby greens, hard-boiled eggs, fried shallots and sesame seeds. A slick of sweet-salty teriyaki sauce runs throughout.
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T-swirl's sauces err on the sugary side, which is evident in the shrimp avocado crepe. This delightful bundle of fresh, sweet shrimp; creamy avocado chunks; crisp, cool peppers; and nutty pops of edamame could have done without the sweet chili sauce.
If you're after classic brunch flavors, there's no better bet than the smoked salmon crepe. Silky, smoky salmon is generously layered with spinach on a crepe smeared with cream cheese. Hearty pieces of purple onion provide a sharp note, but capers are conspicuously absent. Even so, it made for a delightful and surprisingly filling meal, especially when paired with housemade tea.
A boozy, over-the-top brunch this is not. But there is perhaps no better way to kick off the 2018 brunching season than with a healthy meal under $10 where the hardest drink you'll find is oolong. Here's to keeping your resolutions and eating well, too.
T-Swirl Crepes, 2540 Old Denton Road, Carrollton. Open 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.