L’Epicerie – Calgary, AB
1325 1 Street SE
Original post below:
A L’Epicerie is a term used throughout France to designate a grocery or general store. Originally a spice counter, these stores now sell a variety of items, usually including charcuterie, dry goods, produce, meats and cheeses.
In Calgary, L’Epicerie is the name of a french deli opened up by Dominique Moussu, executive chef of Teatro. Conveniently located in the same complex as Manuel Latrouwe, and Bernard Callebaut just south of downtown, they have joined forces to create a premium food “destination”. All three businesses carry items positioned as high end, and this can only help them generate additional sales. At L’Epicerie, this includes things like their own terrines, gravlox, french cheeses (Epoisse!), Magret Duck breasts, Haricots Tarbais and other hard to find French items. A lot of this stuff is imported directly from France, and very difficult to otherwise find.
My experiences there have been generally very positive. Their service has been phenomenal, if sometimes just a touch slow. But I really don’t mind – this isn’t the express lane at your local supermarket, this is an Epicerie! Like many new places however, they have had some difficulty with pricing. While I am pleased to note that prices have stabilized at a something a bit more reasonable (moving in the right direction anyway), the prices have been dropped a few times on several items I consistently purchase. While the prices are not for the faint of heart, they do provide access to some otherwise difficult to find ingredients.
In terms of take out/ready to eat, they primarily serve sandwiches. I first paid $18 for a full sandwich. New prices have changed to $7 and $14 for a half or full sandwich respectively. These sandwiches are made on fresh bread, with all high quality ingredients. I had the terrine of foie gras, which included arugula, moutard, and great bread. While it might not be worth $18, the quality of the terrine made for a very decadent, and enjoyable experience. And now it costs $14, so even better!
My favorite thing that they carry are fresh-made potato chips. The first time i went, i ordered these because they were the least expensive thing i could buy, and gracefully leave with without looking sheepish. I wasn’t quite prepared for the price. They were $6 for a small bag if you’re curious. However, i loved them. Crisp, rich potato flavour with some great salt, these are sublime chips. Then their price dropped, making it only somewhat ridiculous in price ($4.50). Then they changed the potato they used, and they actually taste better. As a treat, I will occassionaly pick up a bag, but these are steep prices for day-to-day living. My waistline is quite relieved by this fact, as at $2-$3 for a small bag, I’d be there every day. I love my potato chips.
L’Epicerie is an interesting idea for Calgary, but I worry about its potential longevity. If a downturn in the economy occurs, I have a difficult time imaging people continuing to spend loads of money on many pricey french items they’ve had no experience cooking with, or utilizing. Some element of education maybe be necessary to explain why some of these ingredients are worth the cost. Very friendly and nice, i wish nothing but the best for them. The fact they continue to refine their price shows they care about their succeeding, and do listen to feedback. However, they might have been better off aiming for something a bit more affordable to the general masses. The bottom line though, if you’re in the market for some french rarities or high quality ingredients, wanting to try bistro or brasserie type food at home, L’Epicerie is the store for you.