Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Verjus. Verjus. Verjus.

I've kind of fallen in love.
With a restaurant in Paris.
Now what?

Lee's gin and tonic on a silver tray!

Hands down our favorite food experience in Paris. And the irony? The late-20’s owners are from the US. It’s been called “Brooklyn Food”. I think that refers to the laid-back atmosphere, but I didn’t see any exposed filament lighting or barn wood on the walls. Thankfully. Because I’m kind of over the Brooklyn thing. The environment was warm and eclectic and homey, like something you’d find in the first apartment of someone with a bit of taste and joie de vie. Not in the least industrial (like so much of the Brooklyn scene.) And nothing mid-century or modern. Again, do I really have to see one more Serge Mouille chandelier?

I liked the vibe immediately. But I really fell in love when they brought Lee’s gin and tonic on a silver tray. It is as if they were channeling the kinds of things I loved in my own 20’s – vintage Art Deco, ’30s and 40’s, old world charm without the kitsch. Old mirrors, mismatched chairs, solid simple wooden tables.

The owners are an American-born couple. He, Braden Perkins, from New Orleans, probably just has food in the genes, grew up in Boston. Laura Adrian grew up in White Bear Lake, but calls it St. Paul, which is probably a good idea since the last famous thing I remember about White Bear Lake is from the moving Fargo. We see the more than daffy cheerleader from WBL at a bar, saying “Go, Bears!”

Daffy she is not. Talented and smart they both are.

They came to Paris for a year abroad, seeking direction, and found themselves rather lonely, so they decided to do throw dinner parties in their apartment, inviting other expatriates, food bloggers and generally interesting people. They not only made friends, their dinner parties were a huge hit, so the restaurant was conceived.

Verjus landed in its location with pure serendipity. They were ready to leave Paris because finding a location seemed impossible. Then, this little spot opened up at the last minute. Verjus has taken over all three floors of a small building in the 1st Arrondisement – near the Palais Royal. The lowest level is a small wine bar, seating maybe 12. The main floor is where we had dinner and by 8:00 every table was filled and the 3rd floor is not sure what? But think it is going to be for special dinners, celebrating a specific grower. 

American music receded, but was sweetly folky in tone. We could hear each other, though tables were very close. As the waitresses and waiters all spoke English, it was easy to communicate. Laura and her husband were busy all night; she in the bar and he in the kitchen, then delivering the meats to our table. She must have been up and down the spiral staircase thirty times while we were there, drinks in hand for the guests.

The meal was set – either five or seven courses. I guess we got the seven– I didn’t understand we had a choice. It came with a flight of wine, but we decided to drink a bit less and asked for a recommendation. (Not sure it ended up less in the end!) The price was fair for the quality, but nothing is cheap in Paris because of the exchange rate. Just add 40%! But, whatever, we're going back. 

The lineup of food is here, below – BUT TWO COURSES ARE MISSING BECAUSE THE PHOTO DIDN"T TURN OUT. We also had a steak course and a second dessert! Because we do need 2 desserts in Paris! These were taken in a romantically dark restaurant – with available light, so not that great. Still, Sorry to tempt!

Scallops in olive oil with French Peppers and Garlic. OMG.

Pasta with butternut squash, nuts, parm, and herbs. OMG. again.

Clams in cream with who the heck knows what but OMG again!

Duck with housemde sauerkraut - red cabbage and other things I was now too drunk to remember.

Figs. Chocolate sauce, nuts, homemade cinnamon ice cream.

Cozy setting. Full house. Going back next week!

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