As part of a ten-day jaunt at the end of the year in 2013, Myra and I ate our way across Paris, my favorite city in the whole wide world.
We had great cause for celebration than any other time that I had been in the City of Lights, as we’d just gotten engaged. So each meal started with a nice glass of bubbly.
Verjus was our first stop, and for the first meal post-engagement, it was as near perfect as I can remember. Maybe because we were famished and a burger would have been the best burger in the world. But where I could remember through the haze of joy and jetlag and hunger, each dish was soulful, a creative departure from the next, building intricately course on course, the timing and the service were warm and attentive and unrushed despite the late hour, and the joyful murmur of the dining room a serendipitous cocoon of sound for our happiness.
Burlap bread baskets: Scallops two-ways – seared and tartare, with watermelon radish, fennel, and citrus. It was the perfect first course, the intensified savoriness of seared scallop in balance with the tart cross-sections of fruit and the chopped pieces of raw, briny scallop, tender and buttery against the radish’s earthy crunch. Ricotta agnolotti with crushed nuts and cantaloupe: Clams with artichoke puree:Wild boar confit, slow-poached egg, flower petals, hearts of palm, mustard seeds. Not since Maui had I had wild boar, and that had been slow-cooked underground for a whole day, supercharged with an intensely smoky gaminess. This version was slightly more understated, but still wonderfully rich with that feral pork flavor, tempered by the mildness of egg yolk and mustard seeds. Pan-seared duck with pineapple:House-aged cheese plate with quince paste, capers, and olives: Lemon sorbet in champagne:Clementine sponge cake with chocolate dust, ice cream, and flower petals: Send-off candies:The restaurant has a tiny bar downstairs that even as we were leaving was still populated with the pre-holiday rush. Verjus’ story is also a unique one, having evolved from a supper club held by Braden Perkins and Laura Adrian, an American couple, in their apartment. That home concept seems to inform the restaurant’s decor, with pleasant bare wooden tables and a tall copper pipe and slender windowpanes like a petite apartment along some unnamed Haussman street.