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EATS: Restaurant Reviews and News | * FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Back in the Kitchen : Gilles Epie is cooking things up at Chez Helene.

March 27, 1997|S. IRENE VIRBILA | TIMES RESTAURANT CRITIC

Gilles Epie, the young French chef who woke l'Orangerie from its long sleep, has been more or less on sabbatical since he left the West Hollywood restaurant last year to open his own place.

Epie is back at the stove again, as chef-proprietor at Chez Helene, the sweet little French-Canadian restaurant on Beverly Drive. He's already introduced his own menu with dishes such as king crab salad with peaches, filet of John Dory with bay leaves tucked under its skin, or salmon marinated in olive oil, vegetables and juniper berries and served with sliced waxy potatoes. And at dinner, there's that caramelized beignet of foie gras in port sauce, from his l'Orangerie menu--and yes, those decadent scrambled eggs topped with Beluga caviar in the shell.

You won't mistake your bill for a l'Orangerie tab, but dinner at Chez Helene is not inexpensive. The food isn't everyday French fare either. Along with wonderful renditions of salade Nicoise and watercress soup, he's turning out some much more complicated dishes, such as rabbit stuffed with spinach and mushroom, flavored with tapenade and lemon confit.

The good news is that Chez Helene is now open seven nights a week--and Monday through Saturday for lunch--so there are lots of opportunities to take in this young French chef's cooking.

BE THERE

Chez Helene, 267 S. Beverly Drive, Beverly Hills; (310) 276-1558. Now open Monday through Saturday for lunch, and daily for dinner. Major credit cards accepted. Valet parking. Appetizers $6.50-$11, entrees $14-$25 at lunch; appetizers $6.50-$21.50, entrees $18-$28 at dinner.

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