When Parisian Julien Eelsen found himself in Dallas running logistics for a French company in 2008, he noticed a distinct lack of French dining options in the city.
Specifically, his cravings for crêpes could not be satisfied by the Dallas restaurant scene.
“At the end of my contract I went back to France, and I was wondering what I would do next with my life and I remembered that when I was in Dallas, there was no real good crêpe shop. Anywhere in the world is supposed to have a good French crêpe shop,” Eelsen says. “So I decided to move back to Dallas, and invest my savings in the crêpe shop.”
He met with the developers of just forming-Sylvan 30 in West Dallas and enjoyed their vision of propping up independently owned and operated restaurants. He signed a lease with Sylvan 30 and opened Whisk, which has now celebrated its eight year anniversary and has expanded to Plano and Nashville.
The menu was developed by Eelsen, who wanted to combine traditional French crêpes whose recipes “could not be played with too much,” and more experimental flavor combinations that pay homage to Dallas cuisine.
A smoked brisket crêpe is stuffed with egg, Swiss, salsa verde, avocado, jalapeños and smoked bisrisket. Eelsen, who first found himself missing traditional recipes, says it is one of his favorites.
Other recipes are more traditional, like the egg, ham and Gruyère crêpe. And no explanation other than “classic!” is needed to describe the Nutella crêpe.
The focus is on fresh, quality ingredients and Eelsen does not believe in cutting corners. Separate batters are made for the sweet and savory crêpes, and ingredients are sourced from abroad. Buckwheat flour imported from France is used for the savory batters — “very traditional.”
The restaurant scene has developed significantly since Eelsen first came to Dallas in 2008, and now he says there are more crêpe options than when he first came to town. Those shops can be split into two categories, he says.
Around half the crêpe shops are Korean and Japanese inspired crêpes, which “don’t have a lot to do with French crêpes.” He “really enjoys” the Korean and Japanese inspired crêpes, but when it comes to French recipes, his shop is still the best in town.
“I think there’s three or four shops in Dallas, mine being the best honestly,” Eelsen says. “When it comes to French crêpes, that is our goal. To provide the best French crêpes you can find in Dallas.”