Last Saturday night I was graciously granted the opportunity to attend a practice party for Lettuce Entertain You's newest restaurant to be, Paris Club. You probably remember the previous LEYE restaurant in this location (right next to Hub 51), Brasserie Joe. This was my first experience of this sort with LEYE, but basically it was a run through for the restaurant before they actually open (on February 9th). It reminded me of when Chipotle opened on Green St. in Champaign and they had a day where you could get free burritos so they could practice and train the staff, but you know... with class. I already had dinner plans with my friend Sammi, so I just called off our previous reservations and we headed into the heart of River North.
Paris Club has two large rooms, one with a bar style, and the other with a dining room appeal. They also have an upstairs lounge with a retractable roof of sorts for when this garbage weather passes by. They take reservations, and by the looks of the place, location, and flavor of the food, I suggest you make one. We were sat in one of the raised tables in the bar area.
Our service was fantastic, and we needed it. By that I mean that there was a bunch on the menu we had questions about, and our waitress answered anything we could throw at her. The menu is mostly small plate, and the food kind of comes at you as soon as it's ready.
One great thing about Paris Club is that you can basically spend as much money as you want to. The small plates were generously portioned, and they have all different types of options. Some of the dishes that you could easily share over a few drinks run from $5-8. They also have steak dishes in the upper $20 range, but what was impressive to me was that most of their main fish selections were in the $15 range which is way more than reasonable.
The first item we ordered was the Duck Roulade. The plate came with bread, spicy mustard, and miniature pickles to make yourself little bites out of. The Roulade was delicious with almost a duck salami appeal. The next dish was the Toast with Drippings. I was really hesitant about this one, thinking it'd be some gravy poured over french bread, but it ended up being one of our favorites. It was the same soft on the inside, crispy on the outside french bread that came with the roulade, but this had a crock pot of jus and almost pulled short rib inside. It was savory, and the bread soaked up the jus nicely. The last small plate we ordered was the French Onion Fondue. This was basically a cheese heavy french onion soup with the bread on the side for dipping. They'd already won me over on the bread, but this fondue was fantastic. The cheese was at perfect state between solid and melted so as not to string too much when dishing it out.
The Duck Roulade
The Drippings and Toast
The French Onion Fondue
The first of our larger dishes that came out was the Beef Short Rib Bourguignon. It was served with pearl onions, carrots, green beans, and was covered in a reduced red wine sauce. It fell apart the second you touched it, and the horseradish sauce on the side was a nice compliment. Then we got the Black Bass Armandine. It was a little on the salty side for me, but I'm sure they'll get that kink fixed before opening. The fish was perfectly cooked and was served over a scrumptious bed of brussels sprouts. After that we got the Duck Leg Confit. As someone who loves duck, I was very impressed. The skin was crispy, and the inside was moist. Finally we got the Steak Frittes. The steak was prepared nicely with a red center and a crisp sear on the exterior. The fries were good, but the real highlight was the green oily dipping sauce that they came with. The only flaw with this dish was that it was served last, and we were already pretty full when it came.
The Beef Short Rib Bourguignon
The Black Bass Armandine
The Duck Leg Confit
The Steak Frittes
Paris Club has a wide variety of options. For the tentative they've got steak and mac n cheese. For the adventurous they've got a variety of pates, pigs feet, and escargot. If you want a larger dining experience you're covered, and if you want a drink and some small plates you'll be all set too. Again, I don't think it'd be fair for me to give a Pearl rating on this one (being a complimentary event and all), but I was very impressed and will definitely be back soon.