I’ll let you in on a secret. Paris Club Bistro & Bar quietly renovated and rolled out a new menu, and it’s an overlooked gem. I remembered the space as having an open layout and a rustic look; it was a bit noisy and hectic. Today the space has transformed into an elegant bistro that oozes romance. Think beautiful deep red velvet banquets, chandeliers, and moody lighting, with French music playing in the background. It’s an ideal restaurant for a date with someone special.
Paris Club made the smart move to reduce the size of their menu so that they could focus their most popular menu items. They describe the menu as approachable French classics, and you will find French Onion Soup, Garlic Butter Escargots, Steak Frites, and Salmon Au Poivre on the menu. My friend Anne and I were invited to check out the new Paris Club Bar & Bistro, and were pleasantly surprised by the new menu and the renovation. We brought our appetites, and two friends, and ate our way through almost half of the menu.
Anne is an ideal dining partner since we love some of the same things. We started the night by both ordering a French 75, a lemon, gin, and champagne cocktail. French 75 is a throwback cocktail from the 1920s that has become trendy again. Paris Club’s French 75 was the best I have had because the ingredients were wonderfully balanced resulting in a smooth refreshing drink.
We ordered several appetizers: the Lobster Scrambled Eggs, the Steak Tartar, and the cheese plate. The Lobster Scrambled Eggs was a fun way to start our meal. I don’t usually think of scrambled eggs as being a dinnertime food, but Paris Club transformed the breakfast into an appetizer by adding fresh lobster and black truffle – it’s just as rich as you would imagine. The richness would be overkill at breakfast, but it totally works as a sharable app.
The Steak Tartar is served with the raw yolk of a quail egg and cornichons (mini pickles). Paris Club’s Steak Tartar is hand cut, so that the beef is in slightly larger pieces, making it more tender. The tartar was served with toasted bread and I liked being able to spread the tartar over the bread, I prefer being able to pair tartar with something else.
The cheese plate was a real treat. A cart loaded with the cheeses is rolled up to your table and the cheese plate is assembled table side. This gave the server the opportunity to point out each individual cheese and to give more detailed information on the cheeses origin and flavor profile. I recently picked up Cheese Connoisseur magazine at the airport (yes, it exists!) and I have learned quite a bit about assembling cheese plates from the publication. I am happy to report that Paris Club follows the rules of assembling a cheese plate by including cow, sheep, and goats milk cheeses, blue cheese, and a soft cheese.
The cheese is served with freshly baked bread, roasted nuts, apple compote, and dried apricots. I especially loved the French cheese from the Pyrenees with the ash coated rind.
The portions at Paris Club are generous, and ideal for sharing. We ordered three entrees for four people. This was a great plan since we had a few appetizers and wanted to save some room for dessert. We ordered the Roast Chicken, the Crispy Duckling, and the Mushroom Risotto. I tried both the chicken and the risotto, after raising ducks in sixth grade I haven’t been able to eat them (shout out to Yolanda the duck).
As much as I love roast chicken, I am afraid that it is a cop out to order it at a restaurant. And in the past, I think it was. Chicken was always the safe option for picky eaters on a menu – I know this, because I was that picky eater who always ordered the chicken for years and years. But now, chicken is back, and in a good way. We are talking about fresh, beautifully seasoned, tender chicken with a crispy skin – it is a menu item that restaurants are proud of and something you should order. Paris Club’s Roast Chicken is served on top of creamy, buttery, smooth mashed potatoes, and drown in jus. They have taken a classic meal that your mom might make, and made it gourmet.
The Mushroom Risotto is served in a particularly large portion, and I couldn’t get enough of it. The risotto had a nice texture to it, it wasn’t soft and mushy, instead it had a nice mouthfeel and was just chewy enough.
We also ordered a side of the Brussels Sprouts since Anne and I both love them. I have ordered Brussels at many, many restaurants, but these were some of the best. Sometimes the sprouts are simply drown in butter and oil. Fortunately this wasn’t the case here. They were crispy without being greasy and were topped with a bit of creamy cheese.
Dessert! Anne and I have a shared love of profiteroles, so when we saw them on the menu we knew that we were sharing them without even saying a word to each other. Paris Club puts a twist on traditional and serves Salted Caramel Profiteroles with Fleur de Sel. It’s the classic pastry, filled with salted caramel ice cream that is equally sweet and salty, and to top it off, warm chocolate sauce is poured over the top at the table. I already want another order.
We also had the Meyer Lemon Tart, which was topped with a layer of torched sugar, similar to a creme brûlée. This is the dessert to order if you are feeling full, since the tart is whipped and light. The lemony flavor is refreshing, and it brought the meal full circle since we started off with French 75s.
Have you been to Paris Club Bar & Bistro since the new menu and renovation were completed? I liked it before, but I love it now.
Paris Club Bar & Bistro is located at 59 West Hubbard Street, they do accept reservations. Paris Club is a Lettuce Entertain you restaurant (along with Stella Barra, Summer House, Cafe Ba-Ba-Reba, and many more) and they have a wonderful rewards program that I think every Chicagoan should join – you earn points that translate in to dollars to spend on future meals.
This meal was comped, but I would never ever write about a restaurant I don’t love. My goal is to only write about restaurants I think my readers will enjoy.