Crepes Tea House brings Eastern European cuisine to West Springfield (review, video, photos)
They had me at pancakes and tea. But Crepes Tea House in West Springfield is so much more than that. For nearly a decade, the cafe has been offering diners a wide range of traditional Eastern European dishes prepared from generations-old recipes and served by friendly staff in a welcoming and relaxed atmosphere.
We had wondered what meal to eat at the Tea House given that the extensive and colorful online menus offered tempting options for breakfast, lunch and dinner. When we arrived at dinner time we were delighted to find that the whole menu was available all day.
The tea menu alone features over 100 options, with varieties categorized by tea type: black, white, green, red, oolong, and herbal. My guest added just a little honey to his cup of Cinnamon Spice Chai and really enjoyed the spicy-sweet flavor profile. My strong black tea Rose Congou needed nothing to enhance the natural floral sweetness of rose petals.
All teas are available served hot by the cup or pot with prices starting at $2.55. Loose tea can also be purchased to take home with prices ranging from $20.70 per pound for Gunpowder Green Tea to $151.80 for the prized Phoenix Mountain Oolong Tea.
At our request, the server deftly directed us to the house’s most popular specialties as we were about to explore the menu beyond pancakes and tea. She helped us choose several small dishes as well as a large dish to share, and of course a pancake!
Chiburekki lists alongside waffles and oatmeal (all $5.45) in the breakfast area of the menu, but it’s a traditional fried turnover that can be enjoyed at any moment. We ordered ours with beef and enjoyed the thin crispy fried crust stuffed with an equally thin slice of beef, well seasoned and onion. We dipped it in the fresh dill and sour cream sauce that accompanies many dishes on the menu, but we also found it perfectly satisfying on its own.
Other breakfast items of note include potato, zucchini, squash and beetroot pancakes (6 for $10.95), plus savory pancakes stuffed with beef, chicken or tuna (6 for $13.15). Listed as a stuffed potato ball ($4.35 each), the pan-fried mashed potato pancake we ordered came with our choice of vegetable filling on the side rather than inside like the name says so, but we also couldn’t fault the mashed potatoes fried in butter or as an accompaniment to a medley of sautéed vegetables. And the accompanying creamy mushroom sauce was divinely rich and earthy.
The tea house offers no less than six soups a day, and we were directed to the Mercimek vegetable soup. The kitchen divided our small soup ($7.20) into two bowls larger than a standard soup cup. We enjoyed the attention to detail in the slices of freshly baked rye bread and the parsley sprinkled over the soup. We found that a squeeze of the large wedge of lemon that came with the dish really served to liven up the mashed chickpea soup.
Two kinds of dumplings are handmade at the café: the Pierogi-type Vareniki and the Russian specialty Pelmeni. Vareniki are available stuffed with savory fillings such as farmhouse cheese, potato, cabbage, cabbage and bacon and salmon and mashed potatoes; or sweet toppings in the form of cherry or farmhouse cheese (all dumplings are $13.15).
Pelmeni dumplings come with either beef or chicken, and when we couldn’t decide quickly, we were graciously offered a combination of the two. We opted for the optional mushrooms and onions atop our Pelmeni, and ate every last one of the hand-formed, potsticker-shaped packets, as well as every last bite of the buttered mushroom and onion sauté.
Pancakes fall into three categories; Breakfast, salty and sweet; and are mainly from design your own sort with no less than sixty filling options giving rise to countless combinations. The savory pancakes start with a protein base like chicken breast, pork or beef ($7.65 for a small, $10.40 for a large) with salmon, white fish or shrimp ($9.30 $ for a small, $11.50 for a large), and are enhanced with sauces such as White or Red Mushrooms, Rich Nuts or Spring Vegetarians.
We opted to go sweet for our crepe and chose the puffy hazelnut cream cheese from a list of toppings that included hot honey, chocolate, and farmhouse cheese. We have added fresh strawberries from the fruit list which includes ten options. Our $6.00 plus $3.60 fruit crepe was a) big enough for two, and b) filled to the brim with the silky, frothy Nutella creme filling and juicy fresh strawberries. He came to the table dressed with drizzles of chocolate sauce, whipped cream and even more strawberries.
If you haven’t yet enjoyed a sweet crepe to end (or start) your meal, you may be tempted by one of the many other desserts on the menu. It was hard to pass up the chocolate nut cake, cream puffs and Napoleon (all $5.45), not to mention the ice cream available with a range of toppings ($4.90 for a small , $6.55 for a large).
In addition to the hot teas, the restaurant offers iced tea in each of six varieties, and we enjoyed the iced pomegranate green tea with our sweet crepe to finish the meal. A full coffee bar with an impressive range of barista specialties is available, and coffee beans by the pound are also a popular retail option. Freshly squeezed juices, fruit and vegetable smoothies complete the drinks menu.
Given the impending opening of a new location in Southwick, we were concerned that the original Crepes Tea House might feel distracted or otherwise focused. Rather, our culinary experience has proven that they care a lot about their core business as they expand their offerings to better serve their customers.
Last name: Tea House Pancakes
Address: 261 Union Street, West Springfield
Phone: (413) 304-2052
Hours: Sunday to Thursday, 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.; and Friday and Saturday from 7 a.m. to 1 a.m.
Entry prices: $5.45 – $23.05
Credit card: American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
Access: Low step at the entrance, rest rooms not equipped for wheelchairs
Reservations: Not generally taken
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