It’s seemingly difficult to find freshly planted family-owned restaurants in North Brooklyn these days. You know the ones, where the dining room truly feels like the living room. This old school mentality that Brooklyn has been known for since—well, forever—feels lost; and it’s even more exaggerated amongst the rapid gentrification of our neighborhoods. The phenomenon that has spent the last few years absorbing our homes and mom + pop businesses breeds a certain pretentiousness that takes away from that friendly neighborhood feeling we grew to know and love as Brooklynites. But tucked away on Greenpoint Avenue lives a new contemporary French eatery whose goal is to reintroduce that feeling of community and family to the neighborhood amongst a sea of unfamiliarity.
French Epi is the brainchild of Polish couple Beata and Tomasz Eider. The idea came to the first-time restaurateurs upon realizing that, while there is a bounty of exceptional restaurants in their neighborhood, there weren’t many that had the level of warmth and comfort that they sought for their nights out. Their genuine affection of hosting parties for loved ones, which they did often, is what ultimately nudged them to try their hand at the biz. The Eiders wanted to open their home to the neighborhood in a way they weren’t able to do before.
Plush velvet couches, beautiful chandeliers, carefully thought out table settings—French Epi’s decor embodies the elegance that is reminiscent of a classic European Bistro without the pompous attitude. The food, of course, is no exception.
The Eiders work directly with Barber’s Farm in Upstate New York, where they source a majority of ingredients to ensure quality and freshness in all of their dishes. Fresh ingredients are famously known for being the backbone of French cuisine—a mentality which further influenced the couple’s decision to open up a French bistro. “We don’t like anything pre-cooked or pre-prepared,” Beata Eider tells us.
The variety of dishes coming out of the kitchen are all made-to-order by Chef Brian Dancel and his team. Dancel is responsible for creating the menu, which changes seasonally depending on which ingredients are available. Beata Eider cannot stress enough how crucial Chef Dancel has been for their restaurant, saying he prepares the dishes in a manner—and with a passion—sometimes lost in such a fast-paced industry. She insists that he can make anything taste superb. She even remarks that before meeting him and tasting his food, seafood was something she never enjoyed.
The fact that Chef Dancel could take something she previously disliked so much and make it delicious and palatable is what made the Eiders realize they had to have this chef in their kitchen. Dancel’s duck and beef are another two dishes most raved about by customers. The marinades used in these dishes are, in fact, the only thing prepared days in advance; any respectable chef knows this practice is the only way to allow the flavors to really shine.
French Epi is a go-to for parties given the stunning decor and the intimate outdoor garden. However, you don’t need the excuse of an event to dine at this new Greenpoint institution, of course.
French Epi, located at 123 Greenpoint Ave., is open every Tuesday through Sunday from 12 pm ’til 10 pm.