Paris Club: French Food with a Twist!

August 14, 2011 Chicago, IL, USA

The first time I visited Paris Club, was for a Rahm Emanuel fundraiser before the restaurant officially opened to the public. I partially went to see special guest Andy Samberg from SNL, as well as to get a sneak peek of the latest Lettuce Entertain You offering. As an avid Lettuce Entertain You fan, I jumped at the opportunity to return and enjoy the full menu. I decided to take my Mom for an early birthday celebration on a Tuesday evening.

Even though it was fairly early on a Tuesday night, the entire restaurant was packed! The tables in the bar were full of happy hour fanatics and business people alike. The large dining room itself features dark wood flooring and mirrors that encompass the entire length of the interior. We were seated at a booth toward the back, next to other pairs of guests. 

During the fundraiser I had attended months prior, I tried one of the two wines Paris Club has on tap. Yes, on tap! Kegs allow the wine to be kept fresher for longer and typically save both the restaurant and the customer money. The Pinot Gris was probably the best white wine I have ever had, and the $7 price tag makes it easy to drink several glasses! After one sip of mine, my Mom was easily persuaded to get her own glass. I was so obsessed with this wine that I researched the winery and will be ordering a shipment for my at-home enjoyment! (Willamette Valley's Stone Wolf Vineyards)

The French cuisine served up at Paris Club is considered 'tapas style,' or many small plates that are meant to be shared. Knowing this, my Mom and I decided to order an assortment of bites to split. We started off with one of the homemade pates, the Country Pate, featuring whole pistachios. The pate was accompanied by French bread, pickles and two mustards, a dijon and a stone ground variety. I'll have to admit I was a bit skeptical of this massive piece of pate, but I tried it nonetheless. My Mom and I quite enjoyed it, especially with the addition of the stone ground mustard.
Country Pate
Next, I chose the Goat Cheese Au Gratin, featuring a tomato marmalade. In reality the description of the dish sounded a lot fancier than what it really was- goat cheese and marinara sauce. Despite the simplicity, the dish was delicious, especially when paired with, what else, French bread. We demolished the gooey goat cheese goodness!

Goat Cheese Au Gratin

Goat Cheese Au Gratin
Since we were at a French restaurant, I felt the need to try a dish I usually only try on special occasions. The Escargot Bourguignonne was a snail rolled up into puff pastry filled with garlic and olive oil. Snails are actually delicious and the folks at Paris Club allow you to buy them per piece, so I highly recommend at least trying this tasty appetizer. You can even use that French bread to soak up the remaining garlic and olive oil!

Escargot Bourguignonne
Since we were already stuffed from the assortment of small plates and appetizers, my Mom and I opted to split an entree. We went with the Paper Bag Snapper, which gets its name from the way it is cooked in the oven. This dish was the best part of the entire meal and featured flavors of lemon and roasted fennel. The brown bag sealed in all of the juices while cooking, and you could tell! The nice portion of fish was so tender that it fell apart at the poke of a fork. Definitely a must-try entree!

Entrees are served a la carte, so we decided on the spaetzle to accompany our fish. I found it very interesting for a French restaurant to feature a German side dish! This fried dough side dish can best be compared to the taste and texture of a funnel cake (minus the powdered sugar!). Although this was fried, it was not a bit greasy and ended up being my Mom's favorite component of dinner. Even though we split everything, three small plates, one entree and a side were plenty to keep us full and satisfied.

Alsace Spaetzle
Paper Bag Snapper
Since we were celebrating, dessert was not even a question. The dessert menu at Paris Club features several seasonal sorbets, as well as more traditional cakes and custards. We decided to end our meal with another non-French option, the apple streudel. I commented that this cinnamon-apple-filled log looked a lot like those McDonald's apple pies! But thankfully, it was much more delicious! An extra-crisp crust coated in sugar crystals encompassed the most tender apples and cinnamon. A sweet end to a sweet birthday celebration!

Apple Streudel
Despite being seated on top of other patrons, and the less-than-superb service, Paris Club is a great place to go for a few after-work small plates and amazing wine on tap! This hot spot is easy to get a reservation if you plan ahead, but tables do fill up quickly during the week and weekends when many flock to their upstairs lounge and nightclub, Studio Paris. I will be back to check out the gorgeous rooftop bar, as well as the wine of course! Paris Club gets 4 stars for their eclectic French small plates, creative ambiance and wine that flows like beer!

Paris Club
59 West Hubbard
Chicago, IL 60610
(312) 595-0800

Paris Club on Urbanspoon

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