On a recent Culver City swing The Monster checked out L’Epicerie, the French restaurant cum market. It’s a cheery space where one could imagine stopping in for tea, having a bite, and picking up some wine and cheese for later in the day.
One’s tolerance for this place will depend heavily on a few key questions: 1) Do you love French food? 2) Are you prepared for attitude with your food? 3) Is your idea of a market a place you can pick up prepared food in addition to wine and cheese?
The Monster does not love French food. Actually, he kind of dislikes it mostly. Attitude is fine as long as The Monster is the one doling it out. And while The Monster loves wine, he hates cold cheese.
All that being said, it is not an unpleasant place to go after work with friends to nibble on some smaller plates while coiffing a glass of wine and indulging in conversation.
On this visit the order is spring vegetable salad, shrimp ceviche, chicken wings confit, duck confit, and a glass of rose’.
The waiter assured us that everything is to die for. No one does confit like this chef. The chicken wings, per his suggestion, are addictive. The spring vegetable salad is marvelous. That all proves to be mostly erroneous.
The duck confit main course is assuredly a winner. It is tender and falls off the bone and does bring to mind the best of France and why so many laude its cooking. From there on in everything falls somewhere between relatively good and downright boring.
The country of France and all those who live in it or profess to love it should realize that chicken wings are best served the good old fashioned way. Slathered in Buffalo sauce and served with heartburn. It’s not that these aren’t good wings, they do indeed fair well enough. It’s that to proclaim them addictive is to say that one could equally become addicted to say, stationary or number two pencils or French city council meetings.
Likewise, the spring salad isn’t bad, it’s just boring as all get-out. No one The Monster knows would ever confuse this salad for anything more than an assemblage of vegetables dressed proficiently.
Only the ceviche tallies a notch in the win column and that has more to do with the freshness of the shrimp than the preparation itself.
As for the market aspect of this space, it has a decent selection of wine and cheese. What it lacks is prepared food to round out the imaginary picnic basket in The Monster’s head.
For his money, The Monster will put up with insane lines and rude service at Bay Cities any day of the week over the genteel nature of L’Epicerie.
Why go? Vive la France is your motto.
Monster rating: 3/5 Monsters
9900 Culver Boulevard
Culver City, CA 90232