The little sister of a firm (but fancy) favourite delivers stunning flavours with a casually cool vibe.
For many, an intimate multi-course meal at Verjus is a special thing, or even a destination dinner, to be reserved weeks before a visit to Paris. But the expatriate succès fou isn’t a casual hangout, despite the charming wine bar downstairs with its own snack menu. Three cheers, then, for the 2015 arrival of its upstart little sister, Ellsworth (named for one of the founders’ grandfather). Here, the name of the game is affordable, casual chic.
Just a couple of doors down from the original on the Rue de Richelieu, the long narrow space, clean but cool décor, short enticing menu and zippy soundtrack all scream trendy neo-bistrot. The kitchen, headed by Hannah Kowalenko, works closely with Verjus, sharing seasonal, ethical produce and projects like homemade bread and sausages. A menu of ‘small plates’, priced around €8-€15 (they recommend two per person, about right), delivers many of the same stunning hits of flavour and colour that made the team’s name in the first place – we swooned for earthy chargrilled broccoli with anchovy butter and parmesan, for gorgeous nuggets of chicken fried in fermented milk, and for delicate sea bream ceviche with nectarines, coriander and almonds – the whole enhanced by a bold hand with the chilli. A well-chosen wine list with lots of natural vintages runs from around €25 a bottle into the low hundreds, with plenty by the glass.
Overall, then, Ellsworth both delivers and delights. But the report card isn’t quite clean – the staff confused our order more than once, and despite the lovely vibe and moreish dishes, the project feels rather too close to the innumerable hip bistros proliferating across Paris – though its success with the expat crowd is assured (particularly its Sunday brunch), Ellsworth might not quite stand out enough to convince Parisians to cross town.
34 rue de Richelieu
|Opening hours:||Mon 7pm-10.30pm; Tue-Sat 12.30pm-14.30pm, 7pm-10.30pm; Sun (brunch) 11.30am-3pm|