April 3, 2013

Dine Out Maine: Hail Merry Table, full of crepes, European and yummy

By SHONNA MILLIKEN HUMPHREY

(Continued from page 1)

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The Merry Table owner and executive chef Jean Claude Vassalle delivers a dessert crepe to Bob and Carolyn Scholl of Connecticut.

Gordon Chibroski / Staff Photographer

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Gordon Chibroski

DINING REVIEW

THE MERRY TABLE CREPERIE

43 Wharf St., Portland. 899-4494; themerrytable.com

HOURS: 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5:30 to 9 p.m. Tuesday to Friday; 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday; 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. Call ahead to confirm hours, as they fluctuate seasonally.

****

PRICE RANGE: $3.95 to $18.95, with most savory crepes in the $12 to $14 range and sweet crepes in the $6 to $7 range

BAR: Full bar

CREDIT CARDS: All major

VEGETARIAN: Yes

KIDS: No children's menu

RESERVATIONS: Yes

WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE: Yes, but the Wharf Street cobblestones might not be the easiest to navigate.

BOTTOM LINE: I suggest this warm, friendly space when Quebec is too far to drive. Crepe enthusiasts should love the area's only dedicated creperie, and the Merry Table also delivers excellent French classics in a cozy and rustic space. Seasonal outdoor seating is especially inviting when the weather is good. Call ahead if you want cassoulet, as that dish sells quickly. For a special treat, plan to go on the first and third Thursday of each month for French language-speaking nights.

Ratings follow this scale and take into consideration food, atmosphere, service and value:

* Poor  

** Fair  

*** Good

**** Excellent

***** Extraordinary.

The Maine Sunday Telegram visits an establishment twice if the first dining experience was unsatisfactory. The reviewer dines anonymously.

If your tastes trend toward the sweet, The Merry Table serves six standard dessert crepes, plus a dessert of the day. Each is a variation of a delicious theme, and I recommend all of them, from the simple Sucre ($4.95) with sugar and butter to the more decadent Crepe d'Hiver ($6.95) with red wine-poached pear and apple, layered with smooth mascarpone cheese.

That noted, the Banane et Nutella ($6.95) is my absolute favorite, and is exactly as it sounds, with hazelnut Nutella and slices of fresh banana. The Chocolat ($6.95), filled with chocolate ganache, will also satisfy any sweet tooth. Add cappuccino ($3.75), and the charm only intensifies.

In fact, The Merry Table tops the list of Portland's charming restaurant experiences -- either inside the casual dining space or, on a summer day, at one of the outdoor wrought-iron tables. The restaurant itself is a little bit of an enigma with its fluid and seasonal hours, but that noted, it works the other way too, and in no way are lingerers rushed out the door.

When a ticket to Provence is too pricey and Quebec is too far to drive, let The Merry Table menu spirit you away. Maine is lucky to have this friendly European nook. 

Shonna Milliken Humphrey is a Maine freelance writer and author of the novel "Show Me Good Land."


Correction: This review was revised at 11:25 a.m., April 3, 2013, to give the correct name of the server. It is Myriam.

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