First Bite: l'Epicerie, An Evolved Cafe
Los Angeles, as is well-known, is where everybody eats Italian food in restaurants, where trattorias open on every corner, and where it is easier to find well-made Sardinian flatbread than a decent baguette. Downtown Culver City has somehow become the exception to this rule: bistros outnumber trattorias. And now there is l'Epicerie, which is, for want of a better term, a sort of evolved cafe, a place of crepes and croissants in the morning, sandwiches and tartines for lunch, and in the evening something that the restaurant describes as French tapas, but you'd recognize as downscaled versions of bistro standards: cassoulet, chicken a la Basquaise with stewed sweet peppers, and crisped pork belly. This is not complicated cooking. The pork belly is just that: a bit of braised pork belly, with a dab of mustard on the plate if you're so inclined. The boeuf Bourguignon is stew. (The pig's foot is to be avoided.) Proprietor Thierry Perez has poked his head into a lot of projects in the years he's been in Los Angeles, including Providence, Bottlerock and Fraiche. This project includes a small wine shop, a coffee counter, a bar and a few shelves of French products, a place a local could drop into several times a day.