Repeat after me: A crepe is not a pancake.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s like a pancake in that it’s a flour-base batter cooked on a griddle and then topped with yummy things. But unlike its thicker, fluffier American cousin, the European crepe is thin and delicate. And Turlock just got another place to try them, along with a nice glass of locally made wine.
Loza Wine & Crepes on East Main Street comes from a family many in the region already know well. Three daughters from the Tsymbal clan, who have had a booth at local farmers markets for two decades selling their honey and wine, started the restaurant. Owner Yelena Tsymbal and two of her sisters, Oksana and Anya, run the new business. This is the first restaurant in the Ukrainian family, which includes 11 siblings ages 17 to 37.
They purchased the almost 100-year-old building with the intention of turning it into a tasting room for Tsymbal Winery, the passion project of family patriarch Tony Tsymbal who has created natural wine without sulfates since 2000. But city zoning required they sell food, so Yelena decided on crepes. She had seen them sold at the local farmers markets for years. The only problem was, she had never made one. So two weeks before they had their soft opening in late August, a family friend taught her the secret to making the light, paper-thin delicacy.
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Now, with two crepe maker griddles and the special batter spreader, she is practically an old hand at serving them. And unlike the more traditional crepes made with water, milk and butter, she uses a batter made with beer and Greek yogurt for a lighter consistency and taste. It all follows along with the new eatery’s fresh and local philosophy.
Yelena said most of the ingredients come from the farmers market, where the family still has booths on the weekends, and local producers. The kitchen has no fryer, no soda machine and no microwave. All dishes are made to order.
The menu includes both sweet (Nutella, berry, bananas foster) and savory (grilled veggie, spinach pesto, breakfast avocado) crepes, as well as paninis and Ukrainian delicacies like stuffed cabbage rolls and dumplings with butter, sour cream and dill. The counter is lined with large glass jugs filled with fresh-made lemonade, fruit kompot and more.
While Loza welcomes customers now, the official grand opening will be Monday, Sept. 18. That is when the menu will be expanded to include cheese boards and French-style tartines, open-faced sandwiches. She will also unveil the full wine menu of more than a dozen selections including several from the family’s own vineyard. In fact, the business’s name, “loza,” comes from the Russian word for grapevine.
The interior of the cozy dining area, which can hold about 30, includes several homages to the family’s honey and wine businesses. The counter and benches sit on bases made from beehive boxes and the tile in the kitchen is shaped like honeycomb. In an adjacent room from the dining area they have set up a gift market selling local goods and crafts. Yelena said she is looking for more local artisans to display their wares.
“I want a place where people feel comfortable but also enjoy the food,” she said.
Loza Wine & Crepes is at 601 E. Main St., Turlock, and open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday. (They plan to start opening over the weekend for brunch in 2018.) For more call 209-652-5839 or visit http://lozawineandcrepes.com.