Star Chef Gilles Epié to Open L’Avant-Garde on M St.


This article was updated on Aug. 30.

Georgetown will soon welcome its rock star chef.

French chef Gilles Epié plans to open a restaurant on M Street in late September or October. It will be called L’Avant-Garde and be in the building — appropriately enough — which once housed the legendary restaurant, The Guards, at 2915 M St. NW. L’Annexe — part of the ownership of Epié’s restaurant — is next door. Epié has held the title of executive chef since May. 

L’Avant-Garde will likely offer, according to food columnist Gilles Pudlowski, “French cuisine with products made in the U.S.A., a reduced menu (six starters, eight main courses, six desserts), but precise, playful and seasonal. With rock fish bouillabaisse style soup with macaroni and rouille, Maine lobster with spinach and onions, leeks mimosa style with Dijon, boiled frogs, bass with foie gras and artichokes camus, brains of lamb with porcini mushrooms and chanterelles and beef stew with black olives, with rum baba flambéed with orange and ‘mocha feuille’ with coffee bean sauce.”

Foodies have told The Georgetowner that they’ve been buzzing about this culinary opening.

Epié told The Georgetowner on Aug. 30 that the menu is not quite set, but that it would contain “the best of best ingredients,” adding, “the stars are the ingredients.” After all, he noted, “Simplicity is the hardest.” 

The menu will be a la carte. He expects the average meal to under $100 — “$55 to $85.” “Everything is going to be classic,” Epié said. “Nothing fancy … Fine dining is over.”

For his new position, Epié now lives in Old Town Alexandria — “the perfect move for us,” he said. “I love D.C. Everywhere I go the chefs are so talented.”

Born in Nantes, France, Epié received a Michelin Star in 1980 at the age of 22, the youngest chef ever to achieve that. After his 1980s successes, he moved to Los Angeles In 1995 to be head chef of the French restaurant L’Orangerie, bringing his Provençal-inspired style of cooking. After that, he owned with partner Jean Denoyer the Beverly Hills restaurant, Chez Gilles. His list of VIP, political and celebrity diners is long.

In 2005, Epié opened Citrus Etoile restaurant in Paris along with his wife, former model-actress, Elizabeth Nottoli. The restaurant was named in honor of his friend, chef Michel Richard, and his Los Angeles restaurant, Citrus. At the time, In 2006, Condé Nast Traveller named Citrus Etoile one of “the Top 100 Hot Restaurants in the World,” and theNew York Times wrote “Chef Epie is a true culinary contortionist.” 

Epié and his wife Elizabeth have hosted TV shows, such as “Un Frenchy en cuisine” (A Frenchy in the Kitchen), and returned to the U.S. in 2018, when Epié became the corporate executive chef at Juvia in Miami Beach. In 2019, he became the culinary director and executive chef of the Montage Beverly Hills Hotel. Its restaurant was renamed Gilles@Montage Hotel. Then, after a major renovation, Turtle Bay Resort, a five-star luxury hotel in Oahu, Hawaii, named him executive chef, as he oversaw the property’s culinary operations last year.

Today, Restaurant L’Avant-Garde is quietly being assembled and sees itself, Epié said, as “a high-end French brasserie.” 

Yes, there will be scrambled eggs with caviar, he assured us. By the way, he plans to get his bread from Boulangerie Christophe on Wisconsin Avenue.

Some smile that Epié is setting up his new restaurant close to where Citronelle used to be, just across on 30th Street. The beloved chef Michel Richard, who died in 2016, held court there for years until it closed in 2012. 

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