Letter from Paris: A L’Epi d’Or, An Heirloom Bistro’s Brilliant Revival
By Alexander Lobrano
A L’Epi d’Or, a solid old neighbourhood bistro that opened on the edge of Les Halles in 1880, has mercifully been spared the ignominious fate of too many traditional Paris bistros in an ever gentrifying city: becoming a clothing store. Sepia-tinted by decades of Gauloises and Gitanes, this sturdy old place with a cracked tile floor, a big zinc bar, and globe lamps overhead has instead become the object of the wisely gentle, puckishly reverent and shrewdly restrained culinary intentions of chef Jean-François Piège.
“I didn’t want to reinvent A L’Epi d’Or, I just wanted to make it better,” says Piège, who lives nearby and has a deep affection for this kind of historic and profoundly Parisian address. “I want the tastes of honest old-fashioned French cooking to survive as everyday food, not as part of some expensive nostalgic special-occasion meal,” adds the chef, who has two Michelin stars at his Le Grand Restaurant, and also owns and runs three other restaurants, Clover Grill, Clover Green, and La Poule au Pot… continue reading
Alexander Lobrano grew up in Connecticut, and lived in Boston, New York and London before moving to Paris, his home today, in 1986. He has written about food and travel for The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, Saveur, Travel & Leisure and Conde Nast Traveler. He is the author of Hungry for Paris: The Ultimate Guide to the City’s 109 Best Restaurants (Random House), which was published in a second edition in 2014, and is a Contributing Editor at Saveur Magazine. His latest book, Hungry for France, was published by Rizzoli in April 2014. Visit his website, www.alexanderlobrano.com (Photo by Steven Rothfeld).