By Sarah Sekula, Published on usatoday.com
By day, it’s an unassuming tiki hut surrounded by overwater bungalows. After sundown, though, it transforms into Toatea Creperie Bar, a wildly popular crepe joint at the Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort and Spa, a 25-minute ferry ride from Tahiti.
Here, chef Claude Gerard pumps out more than 100 crepes a night. As for me, I’m more than ready to test out his handiwork. On a breezy night, I sip a dangerously tasty cocktail while glancing at the menu. There are traditional-style crepes (recipes from Brittany) plus a load of non-traditional ones filled with fresh catches like Mahi Mahi.
Chef Gerard, who hails from Brittany, the birthplace of the crepe, has been whipping up these pancake-like dishes for nearly a decade. So, I have a feeling this evening will be amazing. For starters, the location is magical to the nth degree.
The glowing lights underneath the restaurant attract a constant flow of blacktip reef sharks. As the sun goes down, the view of Moorea’s peaks is stunning, and it’s a pretty dreamy spot for stargazing. I could clearly see the Southern Cross and the Milky Way.
For my main course, I easily polish off the Papy Claude crepe, a heavenly mix of goat cheese, pear, honey, arugula and pine nuts.
“The food is the authentic recipe from Brittany,” Gerard says in his thick French accent.
The recipe dates back to the time when farmers in Brittany came from the fields and back to their homes; they could prepare and cook a whole meal in a short time with their own products, he says.
About half way through my meal, I snag a bite of my friend’s crepe stuffed with potato, onion, smoked bacon, gruyere and white wine. Equally amazing.
“I always try to make happy my guests,” Gerard says. “I love the crepes because it is easy and fast to prepare them and you fill them with what you love. Plus, being in the middle of the lagoon is a delight; it is like having dinner in paradise.”
After savoring every bite, I remember, there’s more on the way. Gerard comes over proudly carrying the star of the show: two crepe Suzettes my friends had ordered.
E voila!, someone says, just before he pours the Grand Marnier a flambé over the crepes. Meanwhile, smartphones snap to my left and right capturing the culinary moment.
My dessert order, on the other hand, is less showy but equally popular. It’s filled with lady finger bananas (a smaller and sweeter version of the bananas I’m used to at home) and my all-time favorite ingredient, Nutella. So simple, yet so indulgent.
As it arrives, so does the rain. I snatch up my plate and run to the bar. This puppy is not getting drenched and neither is my silk dress. At this point I am completely full, but I solider on testing out bites of other dessert crepes. After the sprinkles subside, I saunter back to my bungalow, promptly open the windows and fall asleep listening to the waves.
The coolest thing about Table8, a restaurant at The Mulia Resort in Bali, is that it has a resident Tea Master. He has racked up a year of martial arts training specifically to serve the restaurant’s signature flower tea in this way. Tea is served at dinnertime and will run you $7, but it’s worth it. Have your camera prepared.
La Tante DC 10
La Tante DC 10 Restaurant is an eatery housed within a grounded plane in Ghana, Africa. Here, you’ll find Ghanaian and other West African cuisine. The interior is a mix of regular tables and original airplane seats.
Casa Bonita has been an old-time Denver family favorite since the 1970s. It’s a theme park within a restaurant. From the outside, it looks pretty typical, but on the inside there are 30 attractions ranging from Old West gunfights to divers jumping off of 30-foot cliffs.
This bistro-style hideaway in Orlando, Fla., can be difficult to find. Once you discover a door that could pass as an elevator shaft, you’re in the right spot. Because of the speakeasy theme, you’ll find cocktails made the old-fashioned way with sodas, tonics, bitters and garnishes made in house. The creative menu changes often.
Parker’s Market Urban Gourmet in Savannah, Ga. is a gourmet gas station. The crab stew consistently wins awards. And the extensive wine list works well with the upscale Southern comfort foods served. It’s located inside a charming, 6,000-square-foot renovated automobile dealership from the late 1800s. And you can fill up your car with gas while you’re at it.
Don Bugito, a street cart in San Francisco, serves up buggy cuisine like wax moth larvae taquitos; chocolate-covered salted crickets; and toffee mealworms over vanilla ice cream.
No Taste Like Home
No Taste Like Home takes its guests “out to eat.” In other words, it’s a dining concept that involves foraging, learning about nature and eating local and sustainable foods.
Musical Pairing is a dining concept that is pleasing to the ears and the palate. This company uses the technique of properly pairing music with food and beverages – using a simple mathematical formula. Its pop-up restaurant dinners held in New York are extremely popular.
Yokohama Subtropical Teahouse Reptile Cafe
If you have a hankering for scones and tea and are OK dining with lizards, tortoises, snakes and other reptiles, then this place is for you. Most of the animals at the Subtropical Teahouse Reptile Cafe in Yokohama, Tokyo, are behind glass, but the tortoises roam around in a play area.
Great Wolf Lodge
Once a year, Great Wolf Lodge, which has several resorts across the state, offers the chance to dine inside a life-size gingerbread house.