In Paris, like so many other major cities, finding a last-minute table at a top restaurant is pas possible. To avoid losing any hopeful walk-ins, however, savvy proprietors have found the perfect solution: Open up another venue, just a few doors down. The Frenchie star Grégory Marchand has his empire on the charming rue de Nil with his original neo-bistro; its sidekick, Frenchie wine bar; and the low-key, daytime hangout Frenchie to Go. Likewise in the 11th Arrondissement, the award-winning chef Bertrand Grébaut put the gritty rue de Charonne on the map, first with his famed restaurant Septime and wine bar Septime Cave. More recently he opened one of Paris’s best seafood restaurants, Clamato, next door.
Now, the American expats Bradan Perkins and Laura Adrian of Verjus have followed suit with a new offering, Ellsworth, located just a stone’s throw away from their original site on the upmarket Rue de Richelieu. (Conveniently, the couple also live just across the street from the two restaurants. “It definitely makes the commute home at 3 a.m. much easier to manage,” Perkins says with a laugh.) Ellsworth is named after Perkins’s 83-year-old grandfather, who flew in from Boston to mix cocktails at the opening, and is a more casual (though no less exceptional) proposal open longer hours. Unlike Verjus, which is open for dinner only, Monday to Friday, Ellsworth is open for lunch and dinner six days a week, and offers an all-day brunch menu on Sundays.
Additionally, while Verjus offers a no-choice, seven-course tasting menu — “a two-and-a-half-hour experience,” says Adrian — Ellsworth proposes a simple fixed menu for lunch (two courses for just 18 euros) and a selection of small plates for dinner. “We found that people don’t want to sit down to a tasting menu every single week and we wanted to attract more regulars, so we tried for something more approachable,” Perkins says.
Though Ellsworth has only been open for two weeks, many of its patrons have already come back for more, multiple times. An emphasis on the use of fresh seasonal produce allows for a diverse and ephemeral menu, and current crowd favorites include a crunchy brussels sprout salad with hazelnuts and pecorino; rabbit “corn dogs” with homemade mustard; and a refreshing sea bream ceviche spiced up with chili and coriander.
On weeknights, Perkins continues to preside over the hotplates at Verjus, while Adrian still fronts the wine bar downstairs, though they race back and forth between the two if need be. “We’re able to not only exchange ideas between the two kitchens but also our ingredients, which minimizes waste — something that is really important to us,” says Perkins of the proximity between the two. Perkins places Verjus’s former sous chef, Canadian Hannah Kowalenko, in charge of the kitchen at Ellsworth. Below is Ellsworth’s popular summer ceviche recipe, along with a list of suggested wine pairings, like champagne, which Adrian says, “goes well with spice and salt — look for something creamy with low residual sugar.”
The Sea Bream Ceviche at Ellsworth. CreditMolly SJ Lowe
Sea Bream Ceviche
Yield: 4 servings
17.5 ounces sea bream (or whitefish), cut into small cubes
2 lemons, juiced
2 limes, juiced
1 green chili, finely diced
1/2 stalk celery, finely diced
4 radishes, finely diced
Maldon salt or Fleur de Sel
Piment d’espelette (powdered) or hot paprika
Freshly ground black pepper
Chili purée (see recipe below)
1/4 cup corn nuts, crushed
1 cup cilantro leaves, plucked
2 radishes sliced on a mandoline
2 scallions, julienned
1. To assemble the ceviche: Mix together sea bream, lemon juice, lime juice, diced chili, celery, diced radish, piment d’espelette (or hot paprika) and a pinch of salt and pepper. Let this marinate for 5 minutes and check the seasoning; adjust salt to your taste.
2. Scoop ceviche into bowls and garnish with little spoonfuls of chili purée and the corn nuts, cilantro, sliced radishes and julienned scallions.
1 orange carrot, peeled and diced
1 yellow onion, peeled and diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 Tbsp. olive oil
3 fresh red chilies, seeds removed, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 lime, juiced
4 1/2 Tsbp. tomato paste
1/2 tsp. ground cumin seeds
1/2 tsp. ground coriander seeds
1/4 tsp. ground cayenne
1. Sauté the carrot, onion and celery in the olive oil over low heat until the onions are translucent. Add the garlic and red chili, and sauté for one minute. Deglaze the pan with the lime juice and add the tomato paste, cumin, coriander and cayenne; stir. Add enough water to just cover the ingredients. Bring to a simmer and cook until carrots are soft.
2. Purée everything in a blender and pass through a strainer to remove larger pieces.