L’Epicerie teams up with chef Sébastien Archambault

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Just when I thought I had a fix on L’Epicerie, the newish café/grocery/wine shop in Culver City from Thierry Perez (ex-Fraiche, Providence, etc.), he’s making a new move. He’s bringing in French chef Sébastien Archambault as chef and partner. Archambault, you might recall, earned three stars from the Times for his Southwest French cooking at RH at the Andaz Hotel on the Sunset Strip in September 2009. His last day at the hotel is Friday. He starts at L’Epicerie on Saturday and his new menu goes into effect Monday.

The whole setup at L’Epicerie is a far cry from the elegant open kitchen Archambault had at the Andaz, with its miles of white marble counter and sleek appointments. Archambault was very hands-on there, though, making his own charcuterie and desserts. L’Epicerie is very different, a combination French grocery and café with bare-bones décor, a happy hour and wine shop where you can slip in to buy a Beaujolais or Madiran. Or even an oddball chocolate wine, which you have to taste to believe.

‘I’m very lucky to have Archambault,’ Perez said. The two are planning to redo the nighttime menu at the cafe, focusing on the cooking of Southwest France and especially that from Périgord and the Basque country where Archambault and Perez grew up, respectively. That means, recounts Perez with real excitement, snails, foie gras, duck confit, magret de canard, crèpes with ceps and escargots -- each dish a siren call to those who love the cooking of Southwest France.

The new menu will be divided into categories called From the Garden, From the Ranch and From the Sea. No tablecloths, but linen napkins instead of the paper ones the café had been using. They’ll keep the tapas menu, too, at the bar and starting next week will be open for dinner (and tapas) from 4 to 10:30 p.m.


L’Epicerie, 9900 Culver Boulevard (at Duquesne), Culver City; (310) 815-1600. Open 7 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. daily starting next week. (The café currently closes at 9 p.m.)

-- S. Irene Virbila