First Look: Paris Club
Chicago group Lettuce Entertain You is known for having a collection of restaurants that offer quality cuisine and service. Part of the way they maintain those standards is by having Practice Parties prior to opening. I was able to attend one at soon-to-open Paris Club in River North and it seems they've got another winner.
Located in the former Brasserie Jo space, Paris Club is another (obviously) French restaurant. This time around the focus is on share plates, with smaller, reasonably priced portions being the norm. Even the cocktails are fairly affordable, given the neighborhood. Each "aperitif" is $10. We tried the Gin Gin and their version of the Manhattan, and as you can see from the picture above the size of the martinis was decent.
We were impressed with everything we tried and most items received 5 out of 5 for price to proportion ratio, and most items also received a 5 for taste. I had high hopes since the menu is led by Everest's Chef Jean Joho and I was definitely not disappointed.
Both the chicken terrine and duck roulade were creamy and smooth, although we did slightly prefer the duck because of the black currants. We also felt the thick slices of bread served with both dishes was a little too much and overwhelmed the subtle tastes of the pates without the accompanying mustards. However, the steak tartare had just the right amount of capers and a perfectly crusty baguette, and the French Onion Fondue was a shared-version of the popular soup. Our only complaint with that dish was that we wanted more! The Black Bass Amandine was flaky, tender and moist and the flavor was so good the accompanying sauce was not necessary. The Paris Club Chopped Salad at first seemed a little bland until we made sure to get a little bit of everything offered in one bite. With shaved fennel, diced green beans and a lemon vinaigrette it's certainly not your typical chopped salad, but it's still quite satisfying. The Steak Frites, however, was a standout. The sliced New York Strip was prepared a PERFECT medium rare and was so tender I cut it with a table knife. For dessert, at the very wise suggestion of our server Jessica, we shared a raspberry lemon tart and the dark chocolate mousse. Oh. My.
The service was excellent. What Jessica didn't know, and she knew answers to most of the (many) questions we threw at her, she found out. In general the staff seemed to be on top of things. Since we were seated by the window we could see the entire dining room and, as former servers, we were both impressed by how fluid the teamwork appeared. The ambiance was cosmopolitan yet comfortable, although the music was a bit repetitive. That seemed to improve later in the evening when a DJ took over.
After this experience I'm looking forward to their opening and being able to recommend it to diners looking for great food and service at an affordable price.