Le Gamin - Crêpes A Go Go - Restaurant Review

Posted on 18. Apr, 2009 by in Lifestyle

words by Glenn Johnson

At the ripe old age of 21, Robert Arbor was living in Hong Kong when he met a young Vietnamese girl from New York who would shape his dreams in ways he couldn’t have imagined. Following his future wife back to New York City, with no expectations of what he would do with himself, he quickly went from job to job until he settled into being the only French student (at the time) at the French Culinary Institute. Once word got out to the Francophile foodie community, he was quickly embraced by a battalion of restaurants and invited to work at a bevy of kitchens only to discover that the grueling hours taxed his domestic bliss.
“I never got to see my wife, so I took a job in corporate dining and was left with my afternoons free. I did what every Frenchman would, I looked for a café to enjoy a simple café au lait and read the paper. I quickly discovered that none existed outside of the sterile midtown hotels or late night boites, so I got the idea to open my own place, and the original Le Gamin was born in 1992 and soon expanded to Little Gamin on Waverly Place in the West Village.”
Robert shopped in the new local green markets for the freshest jams and baked goods and soon attracted a loyal following of customers who ultimately demanded he stay open beyond his strict 8am to 5pm schedule. He served up a simple menu of his signature tasty crêpes, tartines, toasted baguettes with fresh jams, butter, and croque monsieurs accompanied by piping hot espressos. Le Gamin quickly evolved into full-fledged café enterprise and the menu grew to include new hallmark items like steak au poivre and fresh mussels. Gradually he expanded his locations to include 23 different iterations across the city and even expanded to Boston.

He soon became the king of crêpes for his signature dish that he served all over town. “At one point, I had a booth at the Grey Line terminal, the restaurants and I sold crêpes out of a converted old elevator shaft with just window service on West Broadway. On Saturday afternoons I had line down the street, and a restaurant right around the block where they could sit, it was funny!”
But over the years, Robert’s dream to find a comfortable spot to enjoy a light meal and a hot café au lait was overwhelmed as each lease came due and NYC rents couldn’t sustain the little cafés. Le Gamin lives on today with one location in Hudson, NY, one in Manhattan, and one (opened with a former customer) in Brooklyn. In fact, two years ago Robert grew restless again and decided to research what it took to open a traveling Le Gamin, and after a year of leg work, Le Gamin Mobi was born.
Now you can find Robert deep in West Chelsea on West 25th Street between 10th and 11th serving light café fare for tourists visiting the galleries and hungry local office workers alike. He’s often hired to take Mobi and his crêpes to film sets in and around Manhattan and he is also available for private parties. Weekends find him in the green market at Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn where he’s once again connected with local farmers and purveyors to provide his loyal customers with fresh fare that can only be described as
charming and delicious.
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