La Petite Bretagne
It felt like cutting into a flat marshmallow with the side of a fork, soft yet still a bit firm, but instead of gelatin I was digging into a hot, perfectly crisped buckwheat crepe, its sides carefully folded inwards to shape it like a perfect square. The folded flaps create a rectangle in the middle that, like a looking glass, reveals the thin layer of whipped eggs and bubbly, faintly charred cheddar inside. It’s dusted with pepper, and pocked with small pools of melted butter.

Paired with a freshly brewed cup of coffee, it’s breakfast for under $5 in Casco Viejo at La Petite Bretagne, and yes, it’s easily polished off in under 5 minutes too.

Opened on February 9, 2012, and located in a lovingly restored Spanish colonial building once used a dentist office before extensive renovations five years ago, La Petite Bretagne is a cute, sparsely decorated space drenched with ample sunshine thanks to large double-hung windows facing Calle 11. The owners are Lorraine and François-Marie Le Baud, a French couple who moved to Panama City last August after previously calling places like Paris, Amsterdam, Warsaw, and Montreal home. Along with a few kids, they also imported a taste of their family’s rich Brittany heritage.

“All of our recipes are traditional Breton recipes from my husband’s grandmother, and our specialities are named using Breton words,” says Lorraine Le Baud. “For instance, ta-coz means “grandfather”, and refers to my husband’s grandfather who loved sweet desserts, so our ta-coz is a sweet crepe with sauteed apples, toasted almonds, Breton caramel, vanilla ice cream, and fresh chantilly.”

Though Lorraine hails from the French island of Corsica, François-Marie often vacationed with his cousins in the French region of Brittany at Carnac, a small village on the Gulf of Morbihan most known for the over 3,000 standing Prehistoric stones that surround it. His grandfather, the one with the sweet tooth, was also born in Brittany, the region that inspires La Petite Bretagne’s spare menu that includes crepes, galettes, salads, fresh juices, and ice cream. “Cuisine from Brittany is simple, since it used to be one of the poorest region in France” says Lorraine. “Nevertheless, the ingredients used are very healthy. For example, buckwheat is gluten-free, low in calories, and full of vitamins.”

I’ve not yet traveled to Brittany myself, and don’t know what I’d do there if I did (aside from, you know, walking through fields of megalithic structures that can be seen from space), but if the savory crepes served in Brittany are as toothsome as the one I recently enjoyed at La Petite Bretagne, I know, at least, that I’ll be eating quite well indeed.

La Petite Bretagne is located at the corner of Calle 11 and Avenida Central in Casco Viejo, Panama City. +507 670 35403. Open Monday – Saturday from 9am – 10:30pm (breakfast until 11am). Cash only.

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Brian Spencer

Brian Spencer is a Singapore-based freelance writer. He has written for BBC Travel, CNN Travel, DestinAsian, Fodor's Travel, Lonely Planet, and Travel + Leisure Southeast Asia, among other publications.