Dinner yesterday was at one of Paris’ “neo-bistros” – these places that keep cropping up around the city headed by young chefs who set off on their own and create a tiny restaurant with a constantly changing prix-fixe menu based on the seasons. L’Epigramme opened sometime in 2007 to great fanfare for its’ reasonably priced food and welcoming service.
When making my list of restaurants to visit in Paris, I started with about a dozen then started my process of elimination based on reviews, location, price and days open to fit our schedule. L’Epigramme managed to make it to the short list because it kept cropping as a safe bet in the otherwise overpriced 6th arrondissement.
Our booking was for 8 p.m. and although we arrived a few minutes late, we were seated immediately. The half-filled dining room seata about 28 diners in a simple rectangular room with large windows on one side overlooking a tiny courtyard. The lighting is a bit too bright for an intimate dinner but the overall atmosphere is fine.
As soon as we were seated, we asked for two glasses of slightly sparkling rosé from Bugey . The typical ardoise (blackboard) was presented along with a small wooden board of bread, rillettes (pork paté), tiny radishes and cornichons (tiny pickled gherkins). As we read through the menu of five starters and five main courses, we narrowed down our choices and decided what to order. Two dishes had a supplement (extra charge) – the foie gras starter for €7 more and the roasted pigeon main course for €14 more, which I thought was excessive especially in a restaurant that is supposed to have a €30 three-course prix-fixe (set price) menu. We chose a different starter each then decided to have the côte de cochon Basquaise (pork chop from the Basque region) for two.
We dug into the rillettes which was deliciously chunky. The sourness of the gherkins plus the spiciness of the tiny radishes proved to be a good combination with the richness of the fatty pork spread. We soon finished the little snacks and our first course was served at which point the restaurant was already full.
My mom’s starter of herring on a puree of aubergines and tomatoes was very good while my veloute d’artichaut (artichoke soup) which came with some slices of Speck (lightly smoked ham) was good enough if slightly salty. Before our main courses arrived, I asked for a glass of Châteaux de Chantegrive red from Graves (a Bordeaux region with gravelly and pebbly terroir, hence the name). By this time the restaurant was full – half with locals and the other half with foreigners. Aside from ourselves there was an American couple, a trio of Japanese in the far corner and another English and French speaking couple at the far end.
Two plates with several slices of roast pork accompanied by pommes boulangères (baked thinly-sliced poatoes with garlic and oinons) came next. The pork was tender, flavorful and came with a light jus. Pity that the side dish of potatoes were too salty and served lukewarm. We both finished the pork and left half of the potatoes.
For our last course, I opted for the cheese – St. Nectaire fermier, while my mom had the Grand Marnier soufflé. The cheese served was more of a hunk than a sliver that my mom was teasing that I had ordered a “cheesecake”. Luckily, it was nutty and deliciously creamy without being overly ripe. I was too full to finish the cheese or to taste my mom’s soufflé which she said was very good.
Despite the slight misses on the saltiness of the soup and the side dish, L’Epigramme is still worth a visit because the service is extra attentive and friendly while the food is pretty good. A couple of decaffeinated espressos and a very reasonable bill of €95 for two and we were ready to go back to the hotel and climb into bed.
9, rue de L’Eperon, 75006
Tel: +33 1 44 41 00 09