Pros: Space, lovely staff, good take on bistro food
Cons: Odd location (but decent Métro connection)
Location is all, they say. Well, on the showing of l’Epicuriste, not quite, as the place clearly has a loyal following, and, judging by the food and the friendliness of the waiting staff, deservedly so.
The restaurant sits at the intersection of the longest street in Paris, Rue de Vaugirard, and Boulevard Pasteur, neither of which can hold much of a candle to the more stately thoroughfares of Paris. But you can climb out of the Métro stop right on the doorstep and slip across the road without your sense of aesthetics being assaulted too fiercely, as long as you don’t look too closely at your surroundings.
Inside, a warm greeting awaits, then you take in the unchallenging but somehow restful decor of salmon walls and brown floor, with the fashionable open kitchen, painted in contrasting turquoise-blue, set to the rear of the dining area. It feels right.
A zesty glass of sauvignon was brought speedily while I waited for my date, who ordered a honeyed chardonnay to get her in festive mood after she arrived. We followed those up with a bottle of chewy red 2005 Minervois, which paired very nicely with the meaty main dishes.
The menu features plenty of the rich, warm and comforting dishes that you go looking for at this time of year: civet of wild boar, hare à la royale, that sort of thing.
My companion ordered the cream of Jerusalem artichoke soup, which was very good, but could have packed a bigger taste punch. For its eye-catching presentation, I ordered the assiette marine – a collection of Scandifishy favorites: an oyster, some salmon, a sliver of herring on a piece of root veggie terrine, and a square of terrific butter. Very satisfying, and a delight for the eye.
Mains were, in my case, a rack of lamb with a sauté of roseval potatoes, beautifully cooked, with some gorgeously melting fat – a bit too fatty for my date’s taste. She had suckling pig done porchetta style, glistening and crusty, with real gravy that had been reduced to within an inch of its life, until it was an unctuous brown ambrosia.
We shared a very delicate Grand Marnier soufflé for dessert.
L’Epicuriste is certainly bringing excellent good cheer to locals, who are lucky to have such a friendly place on their doorstep. I’ll keep it for future reference and will willingly cross town to eat there again. To hell with location.
L’Epicuriste: 41, boulevard Pasteur, 75015 Paris. Tel.: 01 47 34 15 50. Nearest Vélib station: 24, boulevard Pasteur. Open for lunch and dinner Tuesday-Saturday. A la carte: €35-€40.
Reader Jacqueline writes: “I scrolled immediately down your article to discover what you claim is the out-of-the-way, exotic location of the Epicuriste and was amazed to discover its location in the 15th. I may have a narcissistic notion of Parisian geography, but Blvd Pasteur, near Montparnasse, Motte-Piquet, and the 7th is hardly la banlieue lointaine! Thanks for the recommendation, anyway. I guess we won’t be overrun by residents from such far away places as the 6th! :-).” Jan. 13, 2011
Reader Michael Barker writes: “I entirely agree with your reader Jacqueline’s comment and the completely absurd idea that this restaurant is somehow out in the sticks – it reeks of foody snobisme. ‘Centre-Ville-ism’? Good restaurants are not necessarily to be found only in the beaux quartiers.” Jan. 13, 2011
Reviewer Richard Hesse responds: “I was thinking more in terms of liveliness and aesthetics, but the point is well taken.”
Reader Jacqueline writes (one month later): “We ate at the Epicuriste last night and adored it! My partner (French) was snobbily hesitant about trusting an ‘Anglo-Saxon’ review and was happily surprised. The meal is delicious, refined and a nice balance between traditional and experiemental. The portions are fair, not overwhelming nor miserly. The wine list has good choices, with lots of our favourite Burgundies at reasonable prices. We debated whether this or the Os à Moëlle is the best restaurant in the ‘faraway’ 15th; after 12 years in the neighborhood we have tried a LOT. In fact, we usually travelled to the 11th for great meals and can finally stay close to home! So, thanks for the review!” Feb. 13, 2011
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