First Look

Crepe demo is an excuse to spend a night on Le Central's patio

The Le Central patio is surprisingly secluded from Lincoln Avenue's traffic, a long greenery-encapsulated oasis that, during summer months, invites diners to sit low in their chairs, nursing a glass of bubble-gummy Beaujolais wine long past twilight.

With a terrace like that, the restaurant doesn't need a gimmick to lure in patrons; a happy hour should suffice. But gimmicks they've got, mostly in the form of cooking classes and demonstrations, which run throughout the summer.

Last night, the eatery hosted families, couples bored of the formulaic date night and hands-on enthusiasts, who paid just $10 to make their own dinner and participate in crepe-making. The chef offered each group the opportunity to ladle batter onto the griddle and spread it into a circle with a wooden stick, but few took her up on the offer, preferring instead to watch her work in the heat while lazily sipping a cool drink and dragging out their Thursday nights. The ones who did try their hand at the craft were shakily praised and then sent back to their seats, the kitchen taking over the culinary reigns and preparing each diner's allotted three pancakes, tucked over seafood or beef bourguignon or Nutella.

The fillings, in particular, were nothing extraordinary, invoking Chef Boyardee rather than the rich flavors of Brittany, and it's doubtful that any participant will translate his or her newly acquired pastry skill in the home kitchen.

But ten bucks for a couple of idle hours on that veranda is probably worth it, especially if conversation's good and dinner is washed down with a glass of crisp cold rose.

Le Central has a number of demonstrations and classes offered throughout the summer. Check the restaurant's event calendar for more details.

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Laura Shunk was Westword's restaurant critic from 2010 to 2012; she's also been food editor at the Village Voice and a dining columnist in Beijing. Her toughest assignment had her drinking ten martinis and eating ten Caesar salads over the course of 48 hours. She still drinks martinis, but remains lukewarm on Caesar salads.
Contact: Laura Shunk