Kathy McIntoshby Tom linehan

The Épicerie Cafe and Grocery quietly opened on the southeast corner of Woodview and Hancock Drive on December 27th and already has a steady following. Chef Sarah Macintosh (see photo), who has been in the restaurant business for over eight years, says the neighborhood cafe and grocery was inspired by épiceries found in
France. They are the equivalent of our corner stores where you pick up quick purchase items like bread and milk on your way home or maybe stop in to grab a hot dog and a fountain drink for lunch. At the épiceries in France however the provisions are more specialty items like gourmet cheeses, fresh-bake breads, and wine along with a more expansive menu for take out orders or dining in.

IMG_0801Épicerie Cafe and Grocery has been getting a lot of good press since opening. Part of it has to do with the novelty of the concept. I personally am not familiar with another place like it in town. It is small but not cramped and has a nice feel to it; a place that invites you to sit and stay awhile. I went twice in the afternoon on a weekday and was surprised to find the place bustling. I recall from the Rosedale listserve when nearby residents discovered it was replacing the former Innu Salon, they were concerned about parking. While it meets the city’s parking requirements, I admit, Épicerie does have a small parking lot. If you go, take your compact car because in addition to not having a lot of parking, the spaces are small. Even better, ride
your bike.

IMG_0802Riding a bike or walking to the Cafe actually fits with Sarah’s vision for the location. She used to live nearby and came to know the couple that owned and operated the Innu Salon as a patron. She really likes the area. When they let her know they were going to put the building up for sale, she abandoned her search for a location in East Austin and made them an offer. “I love this place.” she said, “and the reception by the people in the neighborhood has been great! This area of Austin is really underserved when it comes to places that offer quality food that is also affordable”

Sarah is from Louisiana and the menu is a melding of French and Louisiana foods. The Louisiana items on the menu include muffuletta sandwich, red beans and rice, and the fried shrimp sandwich. Other plates include mussels, oxtail stew, oven-roasted chicken along with a host of salads, soups, snacks and sandwiches. They also have a cheeseburger on the menu. People can order items from the menu to go or pick up some of the Cafe’s prepared foods like the tomato soup, clam chowder, chicken salad, or red beans and rice.

IMG_0803If you go there to eat, plan on buying one of their bottles of wine off the shelf, (priced closer to retail than the mark-up you would pay at a typical restaurant). The specialty grocery items Épicerie carries are ones you won’t find at a grocery store. They come from various artisan food suppliers around the country. Rancho gordo beans out of Napa, California for example, are heirloom beans which are only sold to small operations like Épicerie because the supplier does not grow the volume needed to supply grocery stores. The same is true for Anson Mills grits, from Anson, North Carolina. Many restaurants carry them but you won’t find them in stores. The cheeses and charcuterie sold at Épicerie are all cut to order, which means you can get an 1/8th of pound of a really good salami instead of being forced to buy the full pound.

Sarah is lining up a few special events in the coming months like a family-style Sunday dinner and perhaps a crawfish boil in the parking lot in the Spring. In the meantime, stop by and experience it for yourself.

Épicerie Cafe and Grocery, 2307 Hancock, Open Mon – Thu: 10:30 am –
9:30 pm, Fri – Sat: 10:30 am – 10:30 pm, and Sun: 10:30 am – 5:00 pm.