Restaurant Report: Ellsworth

26 May 2015

If anyone could get me to eat Brussels sprouts, I’m not surprised it’s Laura Adrian and Braden Perkins, the owners of Ellsworth, their new small-plate canteen located a block from their mega-successful wine bar and gastronomic tasting table Verjus. Since they opened in early March, I’ve gone for brunch and lunch four times, tasting different dishes with each visit and it has quickly climbed up the list of my favorite, reliably good restaurants. Here’s the rundown: Ambience: casual (read: yes, you can come straight from an afternoon of traversing the city by foot), unpretentious, lively in the evening when the place fills up with a more international crowd, quieter at lunch when it leans Parisian. In the kitchen: While Braden holds firmly to his position in the Verjus kitchen, Ellsworth brings on board his former second in command, Canadian chef Hannah Kowalenko who handles vegetables masterfully. She is also the brains behind the to-die-for apple beignets What to expect: Nouveau Americana fare and the same fine provenance one has come to expect and appreciate at Verjus. Beautiful produce, high quality fish and meats, homemade Sourdough bread, homemade butter, homemade ricotta, yogurt and sausage and an accommodating kitchen for shareable small plates. Coffee […]…

Continue Reading

Paris dogs

22 May 2013

After boarding the metro the other day, a towering man slipped into the car just as the doors sealed shut behind him. It was upon closer look that the other passengers and I realized that what was unusual about this man wasn’t his height or his lanky stature but rather what he was wearing: a woman’s burgundy skirt suit, a dark brown wig, and layers of stage makeup. As the metro lurched away from the platform, he launched into a theatrical monologue – a conversation with someone on the other end of a toy telephone receiver. The scene continued for several stations (likely ended up in a Vine) before he and I both descended.  It was a strange if comical incident, to be sure, but on a scale of surprising sights in Paris it doesn’t actually rank highest. Nor do my Paris gym experiences from a few years ago or the somewhat recent running trend (the pall of outdoor exercise shame has lifted!). But witnessing the scene above, pooches lined in serried ranks patiently waiting for their dog walker to arrive and start the day’s adventure, was out of the ordinary. A glorious surprise that elicited a justifiable stream of […]…

Continue Reading

Verjus Sandwiches

27 March 2013

UPDATE: Verjus is no longer offering a lunch service! Lunch is served at Ellsworth, their new restaurant several doors down the road. Sandwiches like this are not included BUT buttermilk fried chicken has carried over unchanged. Question the merits of a time-tested jambon-beurre or poulet-crudités to a French person and you’re liable to elicit a backlash. I speak from experience. Despite evolving habits of consumption and a wonderfully creative food scene, their lunchtime staples remain entrenched in the past. As a longtime consumer of peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches (with crust), I certainly see the value in a classic. But I’m also a firm believer that there should be a whole host of options to satisfy our ever-changing cravings. The French have mastered this when it comes to pastry but there’s work left to be done on the humble sandwich. Mid-market lunch joints should take a cue from the Verjus crew who recently began offering lunch in their downstairs wine bar. The menu currently features three US-inspired sandwiches and can be ordered alone or as part of a full meal which comes with a dessert and a drink. Two of the three current recipes contain pork, which I don’t eat, but the […]…

Continue Reading

Verjus Restaurant and Wine Bar

12 December 2011

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. 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. | THE BARArmed 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 […]…

Continue Reading