by Deborah Im
True to its name, Le Petit Restaurant Epi is a tiny shoebox of a restaurant with just six tables which spill out into the sidewalk on a quiet street between Ebisu and Daikanyama stations. In a cozy, laid back setting, Epi serves up classic French bistro fare such as ratatouille, escargot a la Bourgouignon, and a variety of well-executed mussel dishes.
On a recent visit, I started with the tartare de crevette et avocat, a mound of avocado and raw chopped scallops topped with succulent marinated shrimp and served with endive. The flavors melded together wonderfully, the shrimp was cooked to translucent perfection, and a few sprigs of dill on top lent a burst of flavor.
Bouillabaisse, a classic French fish stew, originates from Marseille, a port city in the Provence region. Epi’s bouillabaisse is well-balanced with a velvety savory broth chock full of various fruits of the sea, including flaky fish, mussels, crab and butterflied langoustine still in its shell. Garlic and saffron infuse the dish with the perfect dose of umami. As in Provence, the bouillabaisse is served with a dish of toasted bread and rouille, a flavored mayonnaise. Spread some rouille on a toast point and let it soak up the warm, savory broth for a mouthful of delicious joy.
A steamed mussel dish in a creamy saffron-infused broth was also enjoyable, although the overabundance of dry white wine in the dish was a bit overpowering, masking the subtle fragrance of saffron.
All of the dishes at Epi are beautifully presented in generous portions. When it comes to the food, there aren’t very many flaws at Epi.
Service, on the other hand, is another matter. After a misunderstanding about the bill, the chef-owner launched an abusive verbal attack on me in front of a restaurant full of people. I have never previously encountered such uncivilized, rude behavior and hope the chef will enroll himself in charm school, or kindergarten, where kids are taught to treat other people with a modicum of human decency.
Open Wed–Mon for lunch (12–2pm) and dinner (6–11pm)
2-10-6 Ebisu-Nishi, Shibuya-ku
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