Friday night, a double date with friends, Mr. Borscht and I sit down with good company at L'Epicerie Market in Culver City at 8:00 PM.
I decide to start with an appetizer, a pizza-like starter made up of four small thin slices topped with black olives, carmelized onions, anchovies and balsamic vinegar (pictured above). What I was expecting from the description of the appetizer was bread topped with carmelized onions and anchovies, I suppose that is what I got but in a completely different form than expected. The taste was robust and dark from the balsamic, a slight tang and sweetness from the carmelized onions and fishy from the anchovy. Had the anchovy flavor been a little less prominent I may have actually liked this appetizer, although G, the boyfriend of my friend liked it very much due to the prominent anchovy flavor. Thus, if anchovies are your thing you'll probably take a liking to this starter.
Mr. Borscht's parents love L'Epicerie Market, which is how Mr. Borscht and I came to be introduced to this charming restaurant, they love the risotto at L'Epicerie Market and our waiter on this night's occasion suggested risotto as it is a popular and a very good dish. Thus Mr. Borscht orders the Beef Risotto (pictured below) which should not be mistaken to have beef, it is made with beef broth but does not actually have any beef in the risotto. The risotto grains do have a bite and are not completely soft all the way through, I suspect this is due to the grains being cooked al dente. The risotto is topped with greens and thinly shaved parmesan. The flavor of the risotto is light, and personally, not a favorite of mine which many have something to do with the grains being al dente.
I don't get to eat steak very often and so decide on the Black Hanger Steak cooked medium-rare (pictured below), topped with carmelized onions, laying ontop of roasted potatoes and sauteed mushroom. The steak was soft and flavorful, the sauteed mushrooms completed the dish to a very well-rounded dish in terms of flavors adding the earthy aspect to the beefy. The potatoes were cooked to perfection, soft and moist all the way through. The steak was in no way the best steak I've ever had but I have to admit was quite good for a restaurant who only has a couple steaks on the menu. Between the Black Hanger Steak and the Beef Risotto, the Black Hanger Steak was definitely the winner.
Limon Creme Brulee (pictured above and below). It's always fun to crack the sugary top (the first, and probably not the best reason to order a dessert) but I also felt that the added limon flavoring would be quite exciting to a creme brulee. After a few spoonfuls of the limon creme brulee I can definitely say that the limon creme brulee, although very fancy and delicate sounding is probably not a good choice of dessert. The overall taste of the limon creme brulee was too citrusy, ideally the vanilla and limon flavoring would have danced in and out together, intertwined delicately and equally- this was not the case as the limon flavors were too powerful. The texture of the creme brulee itself was also too thin and risked even being called "watery".
One out of three is not a very good outcome for a dinner but I still I had a fine time with good company and good conversation. The ambience of the restaurant is dim, casual but nice and quite pleasant and though I could imagine having a more delicious dinner I cannot imagine having a more delightful time. It seems that when it comes to L'Epicerie Market one most know what one likes on the menu and stick to that.
Total Damage: $50.00 +/-
Carmelized onions & anchovy on bread
Black Hanger Steak
Limon Creme Brulee
9900 Culver Boulevard
Culver City, CA 90232