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Behind Verjus: Braden Perkins and Laura Adrian Bring Farm-to-Table to Paris

HiP Paris Blog, Diane Yoon, Braden Perkins Interview

By now, everyone’s heard of Verjus and its precipitous rise into the hearts of the food-obsessed expat community in Paris from its humble beginnings as the private supper club, Hidden Kitchen.

HiP Paris Blog, Diane Yoon, Braden Perkins Interview

Having recently renovated the third floor of their triplex building into a private dining room for private parties of twelve to fourteen, and also having started a new lunch service, serving sandwiches to the ravenous masses, I wondered what was next for Braden Perkins and Laura Adrian, the team behind the venture. I sat down on a chilly Friday afternoon for a chat with Braden about their motivations in opening what Alex Lobrano called “the first real modern American restaurant in Paris.”

HiP Paris Blog, Diane Yoon, Braden Perkins Interview

Braden and Laura landed in Paris, like many of us do, while taking a year abroad figuring out the next step in their careers. The intention was only to stay for a year or so. “So we’re here in Paris, and eating, and drinking, and traveling, but not meeting anybody. So we thought, let’s do a supper club once a month and just invite some people. And it worked exactly how we wanted it to work – we met tons and tons of expats, tons of bloggers, tons of cool people, and it was fun.” Continue Reading »

Posted in Food, Parisian Living, Restaurant Reviews | 14 Comments »

Verjus: Paris’ Newest Wine Bar & Restaurant From the Hidden Kitchen Team

The sweet couple behind Hidden Kitchen opened Verjus, Paris’ newest wine bar, a few months back to rave reviews. The adjoining restaurant space for Verjus opens tonight in Paris and we couldn’t be more excited for the entire team. We expect the experience to be well worth the wait. Below, Forrest shares more details on this highly anticipated spot. -Maggie

After standing strong at the forefront of the Paris underground dining scene for several successful years, the Hidden Kitchen’s coveted twice-weekly communal dinners are no more! And that’s actually good news.  Laura Adrian and Braden Perkins, the culinarily gifted couple behind Hidden Kitchen, have moved from private to public with their latest new venture: Verjus, a wine bar and restaurant open now in the heart of the 1st arrondissement.

The wine bar and restaurant are located in two separate spaces just steps from each other. The wine bar showcases the foodie couple’s skill at bringing a fresh and creative touch to a classic concept, while respecting some of the cozy traditionalism characteristic of these types of venues.  Here Braden has developed a limited menu of small-plate bar food; the fried chicken is already legendary among local foodies and hopefully will remain a staple. Other options may change, but you’re in for the likes of indulgent pork belly, plump dumplings or delicately crisp fries served in sturdy silver cups. At prices ranging from 4€ to14€ per plate, it works equally well for a quick apero or a longer, tapas-style meal. And leave room for dessert! The menu offers up a few fantastic sweet choices as well.

Continue Reading »

Posted in Restaurant Reviews | 6 Comments »

New Friends Table: A Secret Supperclub on Paris’ Hidden Dining Scene

Paris is teeming with cool dining experiences, for those prepared to seek them out. New Friends Table, a new addition to the Paris scene, aims to bring together an eclectic yet compatible group of like-minded foodies around a delicious meal in a real Parisian apartment.  Our very own Erica Berman also recently checked it out; during her dinner, she mingled with a former Moulin Rouge dancer, a Cartier wedding planner, an Argentinian working for the BBC and an organic spa owner! -Geneviève

The possibilities for private dining experiences in Paris continue to expand with yet another new addition: New Friends Table. This ‘secret eating and meeting club’ appeared on the scene last spring thanks to a multi-national group of friendly and fun, food-minded locals.  With my penchant for new and unusual eating experiences, I requested a booking as soon as it popped up on my radar.

Cozy ambiance at the New Friends Table

To secure an invitation, you introduce yourself by email with some basic background information such as food preferences, interests and what languages you speak.  While some might consider the necessity of introducing themselves a nuisance, it’s completely in line with the principles of this club.  New Friends Table is about more than just putting something tasty in your belly. It’s about conversation, interaction, getting to know your fellow diners, and hopefully even fostering new friendships. Continue Reading »

Posted in Events, Food | 10 Comments »

Social Eating: Paris’ Best Private Dining Clubs, Networks & Foodie Groups

This could be your hostess (Very Swell, by Lost in Cheeseland)

Even the French say that Paris is a hard city to crack socially. This may have been true once upon a time, but with the recent wave of foodie groups and networks bringing adventurous diners together in secret and not-so-secret Parisian locations, however, there’s no reason anyone should be eating alone these days.  For every linguistic level and budget, there’s a way to meet the locals and experience authentic French cuisine.

All it takes is a few clicks:

Small, sophisticated bites at a Very Swell gathering (Lost in Cheeseland)

Super Marmite is a social site that puts the emphasis back on local cooking, literally.  Users browse the site to locate neighbors who have made extra portions of quiche lorraine or who have a few crème brulée in excess on their counters.  You can then purchase the servings (prices are indicated on the site), swing buy, say hello, and buy your homemade, locally produced French dinne

COlunching: Getting back to basics, COlunching started as a way for freelancers to escape their home offices for lunch and meet new people. Now the online network includes brunches and dinners in a number of international cities, allowing foodies and travelers to join eat and mingle in Paris, New York, and beyond.

Treats at the Super Marmite Improv Brunch (Super Marmite)

Voulez-Vous Diner: This site brings together French hosts and international travelers at – where else – the dinner table.  For 65 euros per person, guests can sign up to dine in the French home of their choice.  Simply browse the meals available and make a reservation. Continue Reading »

Posted in Events, Food, Restaurant Reviews | 11 Comments »

Underground Restaurants in Paris: Three Hidden Kitchens

Hip Paris first wrote about underground dining back in March 2009, when we experienced  Hidden Kitchen for the first time. Since then, we’ve gathered around private tables with the likes of David Lebovitz, interviewed chefs like Rachel Khoo, and searched high and low for these special, discreet, private experiences. Forest Collins has sorted through the (now abundant) options on the Paris scene to brings us today her top 3 Clandestine Paris dining experiences — Geneviève.

A private dinner (Leo Farrell from Rachel Khoo)

Groucho Marx said it best: “I don’t care to belong to any club that will have me as a member.” Sometimes the harder something is to get, the more we want it. This seems to hold especially true with eating out in Paris as the capital catches up with the extensive network of already established ‘private dining clubs’ in other major cities.

Not your usual restaurant, private dining clubs are a different kind of eating experience where food-minded folks gather in under-the-radar locations to share a meal.  They range from closely guarded secret rendezvous to more publicized, well-known gatherings. Because they exist outside of the usual commercial restaurant mold, they’re often hard to find and sometimes even harder to get into.

So are the added hindrances to underground dining worth it?  Last week, I checked out three clandestine Paris Kitchens to find out.

Cookies and Tatie, the house dog at Hidden Kitchen

Hidden Kitchen: where sophisticated palates converge with the gastro-curious to indulge in Paris’ finest of clandestine cuisines

This was not my first visit to the brainchild of American ex-pats Braden Perkins and Laura Adrian. I first ate there when they opened with a near immediate fan base in 2007.  Since then, they’ve accrued a substantial following and attracted enough media attention that they had to move to a larger location where they now serve a communal table of 16.

Elegant ten course dinners take place in their enviable Parisian apartment. Braden brings his special touch to fresh local ingredients, creating dishes that rival the best of restaurants for both flavor and presentation. He still finds time to step away from the stove to talk guests through each course while Laura selects and pours wine for the pairings and takes over in the kitchen when it’s time for the sweets.

Hidden Kitchen, which was originally intended as a yearlong project, is still in action after more than four years. Over this time, they have stayed consistently booked up while developing their culinary and wine expertise.  They also keep things fresh by inviting occasional guest chefs – on my latest visit, Nicholas Calcott created an impressive 9 course Szechuan dinner.

If the topnotch food, service and setting aren’t enough for you, the communal table adds a convivial element not found in your run of the mill eateries that I was truly able to enjoy during my latest solo visit.

Suggested donation: 70 to 80 Euros

Two vibrant green dishes at Hidden Kitchen

Soul Kitchen Supper Club: where the un-ironically hip rub elbows and bump knees over flavor-packed world dishes in art-infused surroundings

For a change of pace, American duo Christian Guerrero and Alexa Wisnoski casually cater to a global-minded eclectic community of wanderers, wonderers and food ponderers who appreciate a seriously good nosh. An evening at the relatively new Soul Kitchen Supper Club begins with a genial cocktail apéro in the couple’s cozy apartment with up to 32 guests.

After mingling, diners slide around the multiple low glass-top tables and await delights from the kitchen as pitchers of wine appear.  Christian and Alexa create origina and well thought-out 4-5 course menus focusing on fusion flavors that are hard to find in Paris like Non-Tex Mexican and New Jersey Style Italian American Cuisine. Continue Reading »

Posted in Food, Restaurant Reviews | 12 Comments »

Dinner in Paris at Hidden Kitchen w/David Lebovitz & Meg Zimbeck

When I heard that the lovely Lily of Context Travel was organizing a dinner at Hidden Kitchen hosted by David Lebovitz and Meg Zimbeck, I jumped at the occasion. I was lucky enough to attend Hidden Kitchen over a year ago and was itching for the chance to return and experience Braden’s cooking again … The problem? It’s always sold out! This particular dinner was to be a combination gourmet meal and chance to get to know David, Meg, and Context travel in an intimate setting (there are only 16 guests at a time at Hidden Kitchen).

HiddenKitchentableEBBErica Berman

The lucky guests were to hear all about David’s decadent new dessert cookbook and the inevitable trials and tribulations of his life  amongst the frenchies. We also got to learn about Meg and her culinary adventures. Meg is a Paris food writer and is currently in the final stages of developing (along with quite an impressive team) a new Paris foodie website, “Paris by Mouth” to be unveiled on June 1…..more on that soon on the HiP Paris Blog! As my friend Claudia from Miami is in town doing decorating wonders for a client, I invited her to join in the fun. It was an evening of fabulous food and conversation galore – one to remember and hopefully repeat. Below Claudia reminisces about this unique Parisian experience.  Enjoy! – Erica

DavidLebovitzMegZMeg Zimbeck

Bonsoir everyone!

Friday night was truly one I will never forget and feel privileged to have been invited to such a soiree magnifique. It felt like we stepped back in time to a salon gathering of some of the great young minds and talents residing and making their marks in Paris.

From the moment we walked into the foyer and were handed champagne, the night was pure magic. As the 16 guests arrived, we mingled and chatted and the air was palpable with what our palettes were about to experience!

If you’re in Paris, I highly suggest you make a reservation at hidden kitchen. Our host and hostess, Braden and Laura are the most charming and talented American couple you could hope to meet on your trip, and the exquisite beauty of everything from the decor of their apartment to every morsel served was sublime! Continue Reading »

Posted in Events, Food, Parisian Living, Restaurant Reviews, Tours and Classes | 10 Comments »

Hidden Kitchen Paris – Underground foodie heaven

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Photos Erica Berman and courtesy of Hidden Kitchen

Hidden Kitchen private dinner club in Paris – with no idea what to expect, and no expectations to fufill, we were unexpectedly seduced and thrilled by this underground off the beaten path Parisian dining extravaganza. Expertly run by an American couple, the food has a definite US slant, nevertheless, this was one of the best meals I have had in over 16 years of fooding in Paris. Continue Reading »

Posted in Food, Parisian Living, Restaurant Reviews | 5 Comments »