It’s a pretty common misconception that French food has to be fussy and complicated. Chef Sarah McIntosh (of Olivia restaurant fame) is turning this notion on its head with the charming new Épicerie Café & Grocery. Located in a smartly repurposed salon space, the Michael Hsu-designed interiors set the stage for McIntosh’s graceful and enjoyable plates which marry French flavors with just a kiss of Louisiana flair.
Épicerie is comfortable; the bright, clean, and streamlined space doesn’t sacrifice a sense of warmth. At-the-counter ordering invites patrons to get up close and personal with a case full of specialty cheeses, as well as made-to-order espresso drinks, salty chocolate chip cookies, brownies, local sodas and other indulgences. And make a note: this isn’t a place for smart decisions. If that’s your gig, the Central Market salad bar is just an athletic hop and a skip away. Go to Épicerie to throw the brakes on a hectic day with a glass of wine and a small feast you won’t want to rush through.
While it may not be the right choice for a big anniversary dinner, the restaurant’s cozy backdrop is perfect for a casual first date or dinner with friends. After only being open three weeks, the café’s Sunday brunch is already a hopping occasion, so get there early. But it you do find yourself waiting, treat yourself to a quick jaunt through Épicerie’s grocery wall which offers boutique jams, heirloom beans, chocolates and a host of other little goodies you never knew you needed.
In the mood for fondue but too hangry (you know … so hungry you’re angry) to wait? No worries. This small plate of warm cheese with chewy crusty bread, fingerling potatoes, cornichons and cold cuts will have you happily scooping your way back to normal in no time.
House-made boudin blanc
This light, almost airy, pork sausage makes itself comfortable in a bed of warm and mild cabbage just before making itself comfortable in your mouth.
Don’t overthink this one. Fries + a light Dijon aioli = satisfaction.
Heirloom red beans and rice
Smoky kielbasa takes center stage with a supporting cast of Rio Zape red beans. Foodie Jane King called them the best beans ever. Who are we to argue with Jane?
Rich and thick, with meat that’s not ashamed to be a little on the chubby side, this dish also boasts some delicious flavors including warm, lightly-pickled turnips and fresh celery greens, served on grits, y’all.
2307 Hancock Dr.