To some people, crepes are just a thin, European pancake. To Thompson Galetovic, however, they're a battered canvas limited only by his imagination.
When Galetovic opened his restaurant, Crepe-a-delic, near Coolidge Park in August, his menu offered crepes with a range of fillings, from decadently sweet offerings such as fruits, chocolate and ice cream to palate-challenging, savory combinations of meats, cheeses and vegetables.
Galetovic said his dream, however, is to convince people to leave their comfort zone in favor of even more adventurous dishes.
Enter the Mind Bender, a mix of grilled chicken and mushrooms, baked potato and cheese topped with sweet whipped cream laced with hot sauce.
Since he put it on the menu in March, Galetovic said, the Mind Bender has become one of his best-selling dishes.
"It's a step in the direction I want to go in of being on the edge of what people are willing to try," Galetovic said. "There have been people with really refined palates who are uncomfortable with liking it so much, but it's been really rewarding to see how well received it's been."
The dish was the result of one of Galetovic's late-night cravings. When he realized the flavor combination he wanted - chicken and baked potato - would be too dry on its own, he searched his pantry for a moisturizing agent. All that was left was whipped cream, so Galetovic gave it a chance, adding hot sauce to help neutralize its sweetness.
"It disintegrated the dryness and did exactly what a sauce is meant to do in crepes: bind the flavors and bring them out without distracting from them too much," Galetovic said.
To make the Mind Bender, Galetovic begins with a batter made from eggs, whole milk, water and a blend of Caribbean jerk and savory spices. After assembling equal measures of diced grilled chicken and baked potato and a handful of grilled mushrooms, he heats an electric griddle to about 350 degrees.
Growing up, Galetovic said crepes were his mother's weekly reward for good behavior. After visiting countless creperies around the world, he said the key to the best crepes is cooking them to the proper thickness, which he achieves by using a wooden spreader to disperse the batter evenly.
After grilling one side, a process that requires 30 to 54 seconds, he flips the crepe by hand before spreading the vegetables and meat over a thin layer of jack cheese and folds it in half.
Once he removes the crepe from the griddle, Galetovic covers half the crepe with the sweet and spicy cream before folding it again - a traditional crepe fold that creates four distinct layers of flavor.
To finish it off, Galetovic tops the Mind Bender with even more sauce and several sliced, grilled mushrooms before circling it with the "ring of fire," a combination of buffalo sauce, olive oil and an Italian spice blend.
Although the Mind Bender is a step in the right direction, it's far from Galetovic's last foray into exotic flavors. Galetovic said he is finalizing other mad-scientist pairings, including scrambled eggs, baked cinnamon apples, mozzarella cheese and fresh preserves. He said he hasn't decided on a name yet but is considering the Morning Grazer.
Changing people's minds about such daring dishes won't happen overnight, but Galetovic said the Mind Bender is helping blaze the trail.
"With crepes being so specialized, people have their own perception of what they should be," he said. "You're breaking through that even as we're breaking through their comfort level with things like the Mind Bender. That's exciting."
Contact Casey Phillips at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6205.