By Sara Benner and Rebecca ChavoyaPhotos by Rebecca Chavoya
épicerie, one of Austin's newer French cafes and grocery stores, is located in the quiet Rosedale neighborhood. Opened by pastry chef Sarah McIntosh in December 2012, the adorable cafe offers a huge selection of fresh cheeses, Easy Tiger breads, hot beignets, charcuterie, desserts, coffee and espresso. We visited on a Wednesday around 5:30 p.m., just before business picked up.
The decor of épicerie is crisp, clean and simple. White dominates the room and large windows allow plenty of sunlight to filter in on a pretty day. We walked in and a friendly manager ushered us toward the counter where we ordered. We marveled at the case full of countless cheeses and delectable desserts before we finally forced ourselves to pick up a menu. Becca decided upon the chicken terrine with mashed potatoes and broccoli while Sara opted for classic spaghetti and meatballs. We also grabbed a fresh baguette by Easy Tiger before heading to a table in the corner of the room.
To be honest, Becca can count on one hand the amount of times she's eaten French food and never chicken terrine, but she's certain épicerie set the bar pretty high for her future experiences with the dish. The chicken was juicy and flavorful, with a fluffy texture you could cut with a fork (think of it as a French meatloaf). It sat on a bed of creamy mashed potatoes and perfectly seasoned broccoli. Crispy, crunchy shallots topped it off. It left her full, but not stuffed. It'll be hard not to order this dish the next time she goes in.
Sara, a self-proclaimed Italo-phile, can't even count the number of times she's eaten spaghetti and meatballs. Sometimes a good meatball is hard to find, but épicerie's meatballs had a beautiful texture, succulent with a nice golden crust on the outside. The house-made flat pasta noodles were tender and the medley of mint and basil was a light and memorable twist on a classic entree. Portion-wise, it was just enough. Not too full, not hungry, just right.
We were so content with the warm atmosphere that we decided to stay for dessert. Becca sprang for a coffee and loquat macaron, a Chinese fruit similar to an apricot with a citrus flavor, while Sara ordered a plate of beignets, a type of doughnut popular in New Orleans, and an espresso. The coffee wasn't the best in town, but the beignet ... who can say no to fried dough covered in powdered sugar on a sunshiney day? Not us.
We really enjoyed eating at this restaurant. It was so good that the only thing we could come up with to say against it is its name. épicerie. We may just be too Texan to appreciate the subtle beauty of the French word that means "grocery."