There’s a new kid on the block; that is to say, Middletown has a new eatery. On Monday, Perk on Main, a quaint little shop of artisanal coffee and crepes, opened its doors to join Main Street’s slew of bakeries and cafés.
Despite its novelty in Middletown, Perk is no stranger to the Connecticut area: The creperie, in fact, is the latest of owner Katie Hughes’s many culinary ventures. As outlined on the eatery’s official website, Hughes opened her first storefront—the original Perk on Main—in 2002. In jumpstarting this business, she hoped to jointly pursue her passions for crepes, coffee, and the environment. Now a hot spot in Durham, Conn., this shop has paved the way for the establishment of Perk on Church, a sister café located in Guilford, Conn.; Perk on Wheels, the nomadic (and aptly named) food truck; and, finally, the Perk on Main that has just made its home in Middletown.
For me, the sight of this shiny new Perk was a welcome one, one that filled me with nostalgia for the good old days of freshman year. During this time, my friends and I had travelled twice to Guilford, where we ate at Perk on Church. To this day, I group both experiences with the most cheerful of associations: a bright, leisurely atmosphere, satisfying coffee, and of course, crepes galore.
Needless to say, I was psyched to give the Middletown location a try.
I ventured over to the café as soon as I could: Tuesday, the day after it opened and a gloomy one at that. The afternoon was chock-full of sporadic rain showers, and I didn’t have an umbrella to protect me. Yet, I braved the weather, determined to get a Perk crepe, and with it, my daily dose of nostalgia.
My expectations were high, perhaps irrationally so, but when all is said and done I feel that they were met. Brightly lit and filled with accents of light wood, the space had a significantly different interior decoration than the Guilford location (which was filled mainly with metal accents). However, it still gave off that same cheerful atmosphere. Approaching Perk, I had stressed myself out with the thought of essays, exams, and other such end-of-semester hoopla, but upon entering the shop I thought of these things less (or at least in a more rational way).
Although I can’t tell you her name, the woman working behind the counter contributed to this calm feeling. She smiled as I approached the register and asked if I needed help. When I took an inordinately long time to choose what I wanted to eat and began to giggle ever so awkwardly, she giggled along with me so that I felt secure in my final order: a Curious George Crepe (filled with almond butter and bananas) and a Caramel “Perkuccino” (a latte with whipped cream), iced.
As I sat down to do work, I felt a sense of calm, of reassurance even. “Yes. My life is together,” I thought. “I’m going to have a crepe.”
And I didn’t wait for that crepe long. Another cheery employee placed it on the table in front of me in what was probably 10 minutes after I ordered. “Enjoy,” she said, and enjoy I did.
The crepe was just as delicious as I hoped it would be. Of course, my basis for comparison may not have been the most well-founded; the last time I had eaten a crepe was at my Nana’s house, and she can’t cook much else other than chicken paprikash. However, I can confidently say that I genuinely enjoyed my meal.
Served on a bright white plate with a sprinkle of powdered sugar, the crepe appeared inviting, and when I took a bite I was not disappointed. Though at the end of the day I would have liked more almond butter in the filling and maybe smaller pieces of banana, the crepe itself was perfectly cooked—crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside—and perfectly flavored as well. Though many pancake-like foods fall victim to lack of flavor or too much sweetness, the preparation of this one was just the right amount of sweet.
The only issue I had with my meal was the coffee. At Perk on Church, I had ordered that same Perkuccino with caramel. I remembered enjoying it for its refreshing balance of bitter and sweet, the even distribution of caramel throughout the blend of espresso, milk, and cream. At Perk on Main, however, this creation was not quite replicated. The ratio of espresso to milk was just right, but the caramel had sunk to the bottom of the concoction. Therefore, with each sip there was no telling whether I would get a taste of unsweetened coffee or sweet, sweet caramel syrup.
Of course, this was hardly enough to damage the pleasantness of the whole meal. I like coffee. I like caramel. So, I was fine consuming them separately, not to mention stirring the drink myself pretty much solved the whole “dilemma.” I finished my meal a happy camper.
Walking back to campus, I felt satisfied with my Perk on Main meal, and more importantly, excited to return. The crepe that I ate, after all, only skimmed the surface of food served at Perk; in addition to crepes upon crepes, the menu offers a whole slew of sandwiches, quesadillas, salads, and drinks.
I will surely return when in need of a little bit off-campus solace, nostalgia, and of course some top-notch creperie fare.