NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP >> Ooh la la! A French-inspired kosher cafe is bringing a taste of Paris to Newtown’s evolving Sycamore Street business corridor.
Located at Goodnoe Corner, the Papillon Cafe is a “must try” for anyone who loves crepes, from the savory Parisian, chock full of fresh spinach, sweet red peppers and mozzarella in a basil feta cream sauce, to the decadent sweetness of the Martinique, with its bananas flambeed in dark chocolate, brown sugar, butter and vanilla ice cream.
But that’s just a sampling of the delectable food that awaits just inside one of Newtown’s newest eateries located next to the Green Parrot.
The 100-percent organic, Orthodox kosher cafe serves 13 different sweet crepes, six savory crepes in addition to panini (veggie, cheese, tuna melt and smoked salmon) and a selection of omelets, including the Californian, Swedish Morning, Salonikki and the Tuna Melt.
The menu also offers Belgian waffles, topped with items like scrambled eggs, cheese and sour cream; fresh strawberries with whipped cream and maple syrup; fresh orange slices; bananas with chocolate chips and ice cream; or coulis de carmel, strawberry jam, dark and white chocolate and of course whipped cream.
And if that’s not enough to tempt your tastebuds, try the cafe’s freshly-baked items made from scratch - lava cake, danish, special pastry - and don’t forget the to-die-for French croissants, which sell out quickly a few hours after opening.
And every item in the cafe can also be made gluten-free.
The cafe is owned and operated by Michel Abitbol, who was born in South Morocco and was raised in France and learned the art of cooking there before immigrating to the United States where he finished a Master’s degree in bio-chemistry in New York.
After his father died in 2000, he opened his first cafe in Miami in 2001 to help his mother with expenses. Five years later, in 2006, he opened his second cafe in Los Angeles. And in 2009 he opened his third cafe, also in LA. He has since transferred ownership of his California cafes to a friend.
A few years ago, after relocating to Huntington Valley, he was looking to open a new cafe in Center City Philadelphia, but could not find the right space. He considered locations in Richboro and Huntington Valley before finding the former Sweet Pea storefront at Goodnoe Corner.
“I called and we made a deal in one week,” said Michel. “And then it took eight months to redesign everything. We did everything new.”
He opened the Papillon in early December 2017, combining his culinary skills with his background in chemistry as he whips up tasty French-inspired creations.
In addition to its food, The Papillon is Orthodox kosher, the only restaurant in Bucks County with the designation.
As an Orthodox rabbi, who serves congregations in New York City and Philadelphia, a kosher eatery was a given, said Michel.
“People ask me, ‘Why kosher?’ I’m kosher and I cannot sell a product that’s not kosher,” he says
Kosher simply means the product is made pure and not mixed with meat, said Michel. “Everything must be real and not mixed with anything.”
Michel’s thick French accent, his smile and friendly greeting are infectious and set the tone as soon as you walk in the door.
The light and tasty crepes, while priced on the higher side due to the kosher and organic standards imposed by Michel, are nevertheless big and filled with fresh ingredients, offering a mouthful of pleasure in every delightful bite.
For Michel, part of the fun is in the creation of the dishes, drawing on his background in chemistry and French culinary school to blend flavors together in a unique and tasty dish.
“I want people to come here because we have a good service, a good product. It’s also relaxing and it’s very private,” says Michel.
Michel chose to name his cafe after a butterfly because a butterfly “represents how you see life, how you enjoy life. Usually when you see a butterfly it lives just one day and then it dies. It has a very short life. It teaches us that life is too short and that every second counts, every friend you meet important,” he says. “Enjoy the moment, enjoy a good crepe at the Papillon.”
With four months under his belt, he’s already looking to expand his offerings with additional breakfast items, including expanded omelet selections, Ratatouille and bagels. He’s also planning to add wraps and other kinds of sandwiches to the menu.
If you go
The Papillon Cafe is located at Goodnoe Corner next to the Green Parrot. The cafe closes before sundown on Friday nights and is closed on Saturday for the Jewish sabbath. For information, call 215-944-8066. Look for their booth at Welcome Day on Sunday, May 6. The cafe also will be open on Welcome Day so come on in and introduce yourself to Michel.