I’ve been so excited about the opening of L’Epicerie Market since I heard the news in the summertime. A European market is hard to find in these parts, the closest being Venice’s best-kept secret, the French Market Café. After a lengthy process of dotting all the i’s and crossing the t’s with permits and health compliancy, eco-friendly L’Epicerie has finally opened this month.

All of the products that you can’t find in your local supermarket: fresh pâtés, peppercorn mayonnaises, champagne vinegar pickled vegetables and fresh artisan breads are right at your fingertips at L’Epicerie. Nestled on the corner of Culver Boulevard just blocks from the booming restaurant row off Washington Boulevard, L’Epicerie offers something for everyone with a very neighborly vibe.

Should you choose to visit the market for a brewed-to-order cup of coffee while you read a magazine or the newspaper, you can do that and sit at the window to people watch. Or, take a seat at the bar, which while it’s not a bar in the simplest sense, there are breads, ice cream, gelatos and more to choose from. Even better, a full brunch can be enjoyed if you sit at the table!

I started my brunch with an obligatory glass of Prosecco, my drink of choice on weekend mornings. The dry finish does something to the palate, almost cleans it and prepares it for breakfast foods. It’s best when you have eggs (especially organic eggs) to compliment the taste, so my friend and I ordered a poached egg salad with frisée and goat cheese. This dish is similar to another weekend favorite of mine, Salade Frisée aux Lardons – without the lardon. The “lardon” on L’Epicerie’s salad is actually bright beets!

Who needs bacon anyway when you can order crepes oozing with the salted cured meat accompanied with cheddar and jack cheese? L’Epicerie’s version is light, but hearty nonetheless. I liked that the crepe was not too thick or rubbery, and the bacon’s texture was crisp. But in keeping with European flavors, I wish the cheese had been just a little more imaginative, something that could hold its own against the bacon … perhaps a gruyere or a tanginess offered by a soft cheese?

L’Epicerie’s menu is large and inviting, so if crepes and salads don’t sound like a meal, order a sandwich or even better, the Eggs Florentine. I ordered the signature L’Epicerie sandwich: ham and cheese and butter! Make sure to ask for the bread to be toasted because you need that texture to fully enjoy the ingredients within. Accompany your sandwich with the roasted garlic-tinged potatoes and you’ve got a great thing going.

Still the chefs’ youthful, imaginative energy is evident, especially with the tapas menu served from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. The region of southern France is honored with the slow-cooked Cassoulet of duck confit, pork belly and sausage from the city of Toulouse. Try the crisp chicken wing confit, field mushrooms with garlic, parsley and country bread and the ceviche with popcorn (yes, popcorn). If that’s a little too adventurous, just ask for the popcorn on the side so you can ease into it. If you’d like to take it up a notch, live a little and try the marinated octopus, or anchovies. With a glass of wine, it’s easy to see why these are on the menu.  

Another aspect that’s great is you really don’t have to sit down to experience the market. Pick up a bottle of wine or champagne from the huge selection; it’s practically its own room. Then peruse the shelves for dips or the deli case for cheeses, duck confit (wrapped in a cute mason jar) and the aforementioned cured vegetables. These are great for a quick meal at home or enjoying your personal bottle of choice on the weekends with these treats.

L’Epicerie’s macarons are a delight for those of us with a sweet tooth. Pistachio, hazelnut, raspberry and chocolate are several of the flavors to choose from. The difference between these and other macarons I’ve tried? L’Epicerie’s are a bit softer and easier to chew.

L’Epicerie has just opened, and it’s on the right track.

For more information, visit lepiceriemarket.com.