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Lunch at Verjus?

As we prepare for our spring trip to Paris, I came across the "sandwich/lunch" option at Verjus. I couldn't find any critiques of it on CH (I saw a lot about Verjus - Table [?] but I think that's a different resto?)
On some boards I saw a bit of Verjus-bashing because, as far as I could discern, it's run by an American and is frequented by a lot of Americans. I guess for me, as an American, it would be a little hypocritical to say, I don't want any Americans at this resto except for me and my wife! Frankly, I'm more interested in the quality of the food and the warmth of the service. I'm curious as to the experience that CHers have had here, especially for lunch. The 15 E prix fixe lunch (sandwich; drink; dessert) looks very reasonable. Plus I liked the location right by the Palais Royal, since we've never been there.

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  1. So bausk, if you'll search for pesky fellow Yankees, avoidance division, you'll get our opinions.

    1. I haven't been to Verjus in either venue, but plan to bring friends there in May.
      My wife and I have met the Americans that run the place on three previous trips and have enjoyed their presentations when they were known as "Hidden Kitchen." HK was then a place known only to a small set of people with excellent connections in the world of fine food. HK with its occasional weekend dates and dinner party presentation was killed by a NYT article exposing the place...too much praise! Post that article our reservation got lost and I called Laura for an explanation. She said that she had over 600 requests for dinner that night ( they could only serve 12!) and my confirmed reservation got lost in the panic. And, she is too valuable to hold a grudge against.
      Now they are operating as Verius, a story you can find via google. At that HK time I would say that the clientele was international, not French. We ate with very interesting and knowledgable people from Argentina and Canada, a TV lady from NYC, folks from Iran, England, Africa, China, Singapore, Brussels, Cordon Blu students, and aMicrosoft couple from Seattle and others I can't recall...banker people. That "Group dinner" presentation was how HK worked and probably is a thing of the past. But, I would imagine that Verjus attracts people who are really in the know about excellent food and value. I would also say that Laura and Braden have great abilities to fuse foods and pair wines to present wonderful results. We have been very satisfied with their food and our experience. Those making negative comments either don't recognize fine food, resent that Americans are in Paris providing fine food, or think that any meal costing less than Eur500 is inferior. Others on this board will certainly share opinions from a more recent and relevant position.
      Tell us what you think after the experience.
      Good luck with your visit!

      5 Replies
      1. re: hychka

        Thanks for the back story. We get the Sunday Times every week, and each time I see a Parisian restaurant get a write-up I say "Oh no, it's ruined!" For this trip, we'll only be in Paris for four nights, and there's no way we'll get to eat everywhere I want to . . . which is okay. The first time we went to Paris our meals were hit or miss. One was "life-changing" -- it opened my eyes to what dining could be; and then two days later we grabbed lunch on our way to the Musee D'Orsay and realized that yes, it was possible to have an utterly disappointing meal in Paris.

        1. re: hychka

          Hychka, I beg to differ with you. If you have not eaten at Verjus, either in their downstairs winebar or upstairs restaurant, I fail to see why you could recommend it as you have, based solely on your HK experience. Our experience dining at Verjus was a real regret unfortunately. We read all the reviews in the American publications and fell into the trap. Since this experience, I only trust Chowhound for reviews, and try to avoid the hype from NYT and American food and travel magazines.

          If as the OP states "I don't want any Americans at this restaurant except for me and my wife" then he will be disappointed, as Verjus attracts an American following.
          When we ate there, it was all - American/English speaking crowd, and the food we were served on the pre-set menu was American flavours, and the food was really poorly cooked and conceptualized. I am not disparaging anything American, but saying that when I am in Paris I want a French experience!

          Agree with the OP that the Palais Royal is an area worth visiting, but there are many more options for an inexpensive lunch in the area. Instead of the sandwich special at Verjus (which I believe is in the teeny winebar downstairs), I would recommend for the same price going to nearby Le Petit Vendome on rue des Capucine for a real Parisian experience. You can sit at the bar with locals and have a fab sandwich made to order on a Julien baguette, and avoid those pesky Americans.

          Also, we do love Spring restaurant in Paris, with American chef Daniel Rose. It's really all about the food, not where the chef comes from.

          1. re: francaise

            Sorry to hear of your bad experience. I'm surprised.

            1. re: francaise

              I think I may have mis-communicated: I was trying to say that it would be somewhat hypocritical for me to say "I don't want any Americans at the restos I dine at, just me and my wife!" I don't mind other fellow Americans @ the resto (as long as they're not loud and obnoxious!!) Thanks for your input. I think I had read a review of Verjus in Saveur magazine that was positively glowing, but based on your comments I will take it with a grain of salt.

              1. re: bauskern

                bauskern, I thought your original statement was quite clear.

          2. I haven't tried the lunch option but ate similar food in the wine bar early in the evening. Its OK and fairly representative of what I would term "on trend international" food which is served in the hip bars of London, Hong Kong and Sydney.

            As a wine bar space for lunch wouldn't be my first choice (it's really a cellar) the restaurant is better and looks really light filled but not open at lunchtime (AFAIK). The wine bar is nice in the evening with interesting wines and a good starting point for a wine bar crawl through the myriad of options in the area.

            1. I happen to be one of those rather indifferent to Verjus... it's certainly ok but there are a dozen other restaurants around the Palais Royal that are as good or better and appeal to me more.

              I haven't tried the lunch formula at the Verjus bar à vins (BTW, Verjus has two separate businesses: the dinner-only restaurant in the passage Beaujolais/ rue Richelieu; and the bar à vins on the rue Montpensier at the end of the passage Beajolais). But for 15 € for a sandwich, dessert and drink, go if its convenient. It will certainly be far better than a quickie meal at one of the usual sandwicheries or brasseries waiting to trap unwary visitors in the tourist zones. No rezzies and, given the small space, I would imagine mostly take-out. They don't accept the lunch vouchers that most French shop and office workers get so probably not too much of a crush (but at that price point, still very busy).

              1. I have dined at Verjus on three occasions since it opened and I have also been to the wine bar for nibbles in the evening and once for a sandwich. I have never been anything but happy with the food, service and wine. While there seems to have been a predominance of English, it has been spoken as a common language among what appeared to be a multinational clientele. Never "ugly American" loud.

                On our sandwich lunch we tried two of the three offerings that day and both were excellent.

                5 Replies
                  1. re: bauskern

                    Great, but I'll still add that I'm with jock - we had a great experience about 9 mos ago (had been to HK years ago, which is how Verjus was on MY radar) - dinner, though - not lunch. The tasting menu is a steal, imo. Given the time of year, we were treated to a taste of Spring (the season not the resto!) - so much green, fresh & delicate on my plate, I was one happy camper.

                    Do report back if you go for lunch!

                    1. re: VaPaula

                      However, as others have said, dinner is in the restaurant, but the lunch "sandwich" is in the wine bar downstairs the restaurant isn't open. Different outlets. Looking at the menu - good for a taste of home?

                      1. re: PhilD

                        I looked @ photos of the restaurant proper, where dinner is served, and it looks absolutely beautiful. Big windows, lots of light. But my wife thinks it would be fun to have lunch there in the wine bar. Dare we do both???

                        1. re: bauskern

                          Downstairs where lunch is served tiny and cave-like. You go down a couple of stairs and duck your head as you enter.

                          Both are excellent but entirely different.

                1. I'm a little bewildered by all this Verjus-tification. It's only a 15 € sandwich lunch. Not much validation required ... if Verjus bar à vin tickles your fancy and you can handle the claustrophobia, why not ? ... if you find it not to your liking when you get there, there are lots of alternatives for a cheap quickie lunch just minutes away (Le Bougainville, L for Liza, Aux Bons Crus, Comptoir de Tunisie, Adam's, Salon du Fromage Hisada, Café de l'Epoque, etc ...or even a plate of cheese/ charcuterie next door at L'Entr'acte or a sandwich from the chain Boulangerie Paul on the ave de l'Opéra).

                  As for dinner, hmmmmm. While the Hidden-Kitchen origins and American connections make it a natural attraction for Anglo-Saxon food writers/ foodie visitors/ expats, I don't quite see how it is more appealling than some other restos around the Palais Royal. The setting of the restaurant (not the wine bar) is indeed pleasant but the food is hardly revelatory or life-changing. For the same sort of no-choice setup, Franck Enée just 2 minutes away has an even better and cheaper menu dégustation. If you want a similar setting and prefer to have greater menu flexibility, Macéo around the corner is a better value. And Le Lulli (on the other side of the Palais Royal) with a fab 45 € menu and superb cooking ... certainly better value, more choice, and better food than Verjus.

                  I'm not saying that Verjus would be a bad dinner choice for bauskern... indeed I'm not an old-testament-prophet sort of foodie and choose my restaurants for the sum of their parts and not just the quality of the cuisine. But, as a quartier-centrique flâneur/ urban explorer, I am saying to the OP and others that no restaurant should be judged or chosen without looking at the other nearby options.

                  BTW, make sure you know where the entrances to the gardens of the Palais Royal are. So many tourists get totally confused/ lost on their first visit. And, in your exploration of the area, also include the nearby covered passages ... Galerie Vivienne, Galerie Colbert, Galerie Véro-Dodat (which leads to the Christian Louboutin shoe shop in case your wife has urgent need for pair of 700 € hi-top sneakers)... as well as the baroque place des Victoires.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: Parnassien

                    "I'm a little bewildered"
                    As am I:
                    1, Because I'm not searching for sandwiches at lunch (I can do that at home better than most) and
                    2. As Parnassien and I have said, in the same area you've got Franck Enée http://johntalbottsparis.typepad.com/...
                    on one side of the albeit blocked off gardens and Le Lulli, http://johntalbottsparis.typepad.com/... the Bistro Valois http://johntalbottsparis.typepad.com/... and Balm http://johntalbottsparis.typepad.com/... on the other side.

                    1. re: Parnassien

                      My initial query was simply "As we prepare for our spring trip to Paris, I came across the "sandwich/lunch" option at Verjus. I couldn't find any critiques of it on CH" . . . I didn't mean to rile any feathers! I do agree w/ John, at the end of the day we're only talking about sandwiches for lunch! It does sound like there are many other, dare I say better, options for dinner, so I'll take a look at those websites. This will be our third trip to Paris and I am constantly blown away by the numbers and diversity of good restaurants. You guys are spoiled!! And thanks for the warning about the sneakers. I don't think she'll be tempted, but do I risk it??!!

                      1. re: bauskern

                        Anyway, tell us about your trip and how everything went. We love to talk about food in Paris and would like to hear of your experiences. Bon voyage!

                        1. re: bauskern

                          "You guys are spoiled!!"
                          Guilty. lol.
                          And if one has the opportunity to be in Paris, might as well aim for the best.