Verjus currently holds the #2 ranking in our list of our favorite Tasting Menus under 100€. I never tire of returning to Verjus, which has one of the most creative and affordable modern tasting menus in town. Chef Braden Perkins is self-taught, disciplined and obsessive. He makes time time for travel in order to take inspiration from chefs around the world, returning home to refine and personalize their best ideas. When he wasn’t happy with the produce available from local sources, he partnered with other chefs to cultivate a more direct network from farms in Normandy. The result of all this is a tasting menu that mixes a modest amount of meat or fish with some of the best vegetable creations I’ve ever tasted. Six very small dishes (snacks) are followed by homemade bread and butter, three more substantial dishes, and dessert for 78€. Perkins’ partner Laura Adrian has put together an incredible wine list that is heavy with organic and biodynamic producers, and her wine pairings for the tasting menu (55€) are spot on. On a practical note, there’s a private room that can be booked for 8-12 people, and the kitchen is known to accommodate a wide range of dietary issues with advance notice.
Ellsworth currently holds the #3 spot in our list of favorite restaurants for small sharable plates.
Following their success with Verjus, where the more elaborate formula of dégustation + wine pairings has drawn a loyal following of happy locals and visiting celebrities, Braden Perkins and Laura Adrian have decided to open something more casual. Let’s call it “serious casual” because at Ellsworth (named for Perkins’ grandfather), foods that you might see at a county fair are elevated through careful sourcing and a sincere spirit of DIY. The fried chicken from Verjus Bar à Vins has moved over to Ellsworth, leaving the former as more of a place for drinks and snacks before or after dinner at Verjus.
This tiny space near the Palais Royal functions functions both as a neighborhood wine bar and as a holding tank for those waiting for their table at the restaurant upstairs. The printed wine list is filled with so many interesting bottles, and the ever-changing chalkboard list has plenty of options by the glass. The food options have changed several times over the years. Their famous fried chicken is no longer available here, having moved over to Ellsworth, but you can still order small plates to nibble with your wine. Options on the menu right now include veal tartare, house-made pork and duck terrine with pistachios, and warm Mont d’Or cheese with pickled mushrooms. Groups of more than two will have a hard time squeezing in, but the intimate space is perfect for an apéro before dinner upstairs or elsewhere in the neighborhood.
In case you missed his much-discussed lament in the New York Times, Thomas Chatterton Williams is upset that Hipsters Ruined Paris. More specifically, he’s annoyed by the proliferation of “burrata salad” at the expense of hostess bars in South Pigalle. He warns us against the anesthetizing effects of steel-cut oats and worries that there isn’t room for both kale and human trafficking in the neighborhood to which he moved two years ago. From Brooklyn, of course.