Verjus Bar à Vin
47, rue Montpensier, in the 1st Arrondissement.
Tues–Sat, 6 p.m.–11 p.m.
Fans of Hidden Kitchen will be happy to hear that the American expat couple behind the 16-seat supper club are opening a bona fide restaurant (even though it means, sadly, the end of HK). Whether Verjus will be easier to reserve remains to be seen—I anticipate high demand—but in the meantime, the downstairs wine bar is open for business.
Before going any further, I should admit that I know Braden and Laura. (They no longer have any free time, but at least I know where to find them five nights a week. Is this like visiting friends in prison?) They aren’t the first expats to open a wine bar in this corner of Paris: Willi’s Wine Bar and Juveniles are nearby, run by an Englishman and a Scot, respectively. And the bottles at Verjus come from La Dernière Goutte, the beloved left bank wine shop headed by American Juan Sanchez. That means you’ll find interesting, estate-bottled wines from small producers. I drank a Coteaux du Giennois, perfect for quaffing with this haute bar food.
The produce is French, and seasonal, but the point of view is American, with big, culture-crossing flavors. Crisp, golden shoestring fries were served with spicy ketchup, piquant with togarashi, a Japanese chili powder. The fried chicken—a must—is tenderized with lait ribot, the tangy buttermilk that kids drink at crêperies here, and served with a jalepeño slaw. Red and golden beets were cubed and served with crisp cubes of polenta and a fresh shower of grated Parmesan. The broccoli with sea urchin and Korean rice cakes was perhaps a little too ambitious, but the tender, golden meatballs were just right.
It’s a narrow little space, anchored by a retro bar unit. There are seats at the bar, and also at the counter along the stone wall. There’s a gated cave in the back, next to a winding staircase that leads upstairs to the restaurant.
Dessert was an all-American butterscotch pudding, the recipe credited to Nancy Silverton, a legend of American baking. Yes, France, we have great pastry chefs, too.
In a nutshell: Head to the wine bar at Verjus for small plates, bold American flavors and great French wines.
Price check: Small plates, 7–11 euros; wine by the glass, 5–11 euros.
If Verjus sounds good, you’ll also like Frenchie Bar à Vins. Read the review.
Frenchie Bar à Vins
6, rue de Nil, in the 2nd.
Mon–Fri, 7 p.m.–10:30 p.m.