12.12.11

Verjus Restaurant and Wine Bar

Verjus Restaurant and Bar

There's nothing like accessible, down home American comfort food in Paris to cause expats to buzz wildly. Mention otherworldly buttermilk fried chicken and the drooling is immediate. The only place in town that serves up the juicy and crispy dish with Asian flair is Verjus, the latest venture of Seattle chefs Laura Adrian and Braden Perkins.

Verjus Restaurant and Bar

If their names sound familiar it's likely because you've read about the staggering success of their supper club, Hidden Kitchen, where they regaled guests with a sensational 10-course meal with wine pairings around a communal table in their apartment. The food was nothing short of transcendental; inventive in taste and elegant in form.

I don't know that firsthand, however. I never had the opportunity to experience their underground talents but friends have confessed it was the best they'd eaten in Paris.  An ambitious claim, perhaps, but one substantiated by four years worth of delighted dinner guests, including one of my recent Verjus companions.

Verjus buttermilk fried chicken

| THE BAR
Armed with a style of cuisine somewhat underrepresented on the Paris food scene, Laura and Braden have taken the plunge (and administrative challenge) and finally opened a restaurant and wine bar. Just before Thanksgiving, I went to their highly anticipated wine bar twice in one week. First with StephanieJamie and Nicole, then again with Mr. C. and both times I left raving about their buttermilk fried chicken (perfection), celeriac dumplings (pictured below), and butterscotch budino and even more impatient for a full meal when their restaurant opened. Fortunately, I didn't have to wait long to get my chance.

Verjus celeriac dumplings

The bar is very small so arriving around 6pm when they open is recommended. With no shortage of wines and mini plates you'll find it easy to spend the whole night sipping and nibbling.

| THE RESTAURANT
After the fried chicken, our expectations were high. Stephanie's were particularly high as she recalled the magic of every course she received at Hidden Kitchen. The menu for the opening week of Verjus, the restaurant, featured an inventive mix of flavors and we awaited our first course with bated breath.

Verjus Restaurant menu
Beetroot Amuse-bouche, Verjus

The amuse-bouche looked delicious but was of beets, 1 of 2 vegetables I dislike. Not the fault of the restaurant, they can't please everyone. But beets appeared again in a later course - too many beets for a non-beet eater.

Smoked Salmon, Verjus

But then came the house smoked salmon with soft tofu and I knew it was going to be good. While the flavor wowed, it wasn't as warm as it should have been and neither was the next course, the duck breast. Within moments of clearing our salmon plates, the duck arrived but our palettes were not yet prepared for the switch. We needed a bit more time to let the previous flavors settle.

Duck, Verjus

We followed with a cheese plate (not included in fixed menu we selected) and finished with the chocolate ganache and fennel cream dessert which we waited an inordinately long time to receive. We hoped to spend all evening savoring each morsel but due to the rapidity with which each course was served, with the exception of dessert, we were out the door in just under two hours.

But before you misinterpret what I'm saying, I will clarify my disappointment. My dinner guests and I all agreed that most of these bumps could be attributed to the very newness of the restaurant. It was their first week open and it is clear that serving the same dishes to 16 people (in your home) is far less complicated than preparing a mixture of orders to 30 restaurant diners.

Whoopie Pies, Verjus

The logistics still need finessing but I'm sure that once the crew is used to their new digs and expanded clientèle, Hidden Kitchen sparks will truly fly again.

I'd definitely go back in a few months once they've found their rhythm but until then, you'll find me in the Verjus wine bar with my plate of fried chicken, shoestring fries and whoopie pies. I won't share.

Verjus
Bar 
47 rue Montpensier, 75001
Monday-Friday, 6pm -11pm

Restaurant (must make reservations) 
52 rue de Richelieu, 75001
Tuesday-Friday, 7pm-10pm
+33(0)1.42.97.54.40.


{More Verjus photos HERE}

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