"The evolving Francophile..."

My husband Jack has always wanted to live in Paris and learn French. I thought it would be good for him to achieve his life time dream. Hence, we moved to Paris in 2008. My first year was difficult. I started "missives" to relieve some stress and chronicle my life so friends back in the US could read what I am experiencing. I currently write about my food and travel experiences, which is my passion.

It is definitely a challenge to live here, but each year it gets easier, and quite enjoyable, in large part because I value friendships over locale. I have a love/hate relationship with Paris as do most Parisians, mais La vie est belle (but life is good)!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Restaurant Review -- Ellsworth

34 Rue de Richelieu 75001
website: www.ellsworthparis.com
Metro: Line 1 & 7 Palais Royale -- Musée du Louvre

Rating Standards: 5-Stars = Extraordinary; 4-Stars = Excellent; 3-Stars = Average; 2-Stars = Fair; 1-Star = Poor
€ = Inexpensive: 30€ and under; €€ = Moderate: 31€-49€; €€€ = Expensive: €50 -75; €€€€ = Very Expensive: more than €76 (prices based on minimum 2-courses)
1-Bell = Pleasantly quiet (less than 65 decibels); 2-Bells = Can talk easily (65-70); 3-Bells = Talking normally gets difficult (70-75); 4-Bells = Can talk only in raised voices (75-80); BOMB = Too noisy for normal conversation (80+)

 1.75 - Star......................................................€€......................................................... 4 - Bell

Ellsworth is the sister restaurant of the very popular restaurant "Verjus", in fact in walking distance. The building is under construction, but the inside is complete.  I'm getting over a cold, but fortunately I was able to taste their food.

It's a long narrow restaurant. I liked it's simplicity. Later I found that the bare walls actually did not make it conducive to having a normal conversation, which I will explain later in the summary.

We perused the menu, and it was nice simple menu, which I really like. They're known for their fried chicken, so I already knew what I would get for my main course.  Actually, the price point is excellent, especially when compared to Verjus. And, the wine list was very comprehensive, after all it is also a wine bar.


Two of us had the "Brocoli, beurre d'anchois, sésame, parmesan, piment, citron" (Broccoli, anchovy butter, sesame, parmesan, pepper, lemon).  They not only used the broccoli florets, but they also used the stem, which I appreciate, since often times many Chefs discard this delicious part of the broccoli.  However, I did not enjoy this dish. It had a strange bitter after-taste, and I thought since I was just getting over a cold maybe it was just me. But my 2-companions also said something just wasn't right.

Our friend J ordered the "Ganache de foie gras, noisette, mesculin, croûtons, pomme" (Foie gras ganache, hazelnut, mescalin, croutons, apple). This was an interesting dish I must say. Typically, when I think of ganache, I think of dessert and chocolate. But the waiter told us it's a house "creation".  I wanted so much to like this dish, but what it tasted to me was like taking foie gras and whipping it with cream and shaping it into a quenelle.  It had the consistency of thick mousse. None of us at the table liked this dish. I suppose we're purist when it comes to foie gras.

NOTE:  Now this is the part that really annoyed me. They asked us to keep our utensils for our next course. I find this practice insulting. Get a damn dishwasher!


J and I had the "Poulet frit au lait fermenté, choux chinois, oignon rouge, moutarde" (Fried chicken marinated in buttermilk, Chinese cabbage, red onion, mustard). I've been craving for some good fried chicken, which is a rarity in Paris, and I was told this is the dish they're known for. The dish sat atop coleslaw, perfect since I do like coleslaw. I have to say they breaded the chicken perfectly. It had a beautiful crunchiness and it was extremely moist. Now here's the problem with this dish; they need to control the saltiness. My guess is the Chef brined the chicken, which is a good thing. Unfortunately, too much of the salt was retained in the flesh.  There are many remedies to fix the saltiness, such as soaking in water etc.  We had 4-pieces, J was not able to finish his because of the saltiness. This would've been a perfect fried chicken had it not been for the salty flesh. I will say though, the coleslaw was light and fresh.

JJ had the "Orecchiette d'Ortie, Pleurotes gris, choux, pesto, parmesan" (Orecchiette pasta made with nettles, gray oyster mushrooms, cabbage, pesto, parmesan).  I like al-dente pasta, but this was way undercooked, it was very rubbery, raw, gummy pasta. Overall the dish lacked any real taste, maybe because the texture of the orecchiette was so off-putting. The dish was very one-dimensional, and lacked any sophistication, it just sort of melded into a green mess although the mushrooms were tasty.


I had their cheese plate, which was a thick slice of "Fromage chaource, confiture de pomme et miel" (Chaource cheese, apple jam and honey). We all loved this cheese. If I were to compare it with another well known cheese, it's like a camembert that's been aged just a tad. This was a winner.

J had the "Beignets de pomme a la cannelle, dulce de leche, sel de maldon" (Apple cinnamon donuts, dulce de leche, Maldon salt).  Oh my God, this dessert was pure perfection. The beignets were crunchy on the outside and moist and tender, just they way they should be. And, the abundant cinnamon and sugar brought me back to New Orleans. I absolutely loved this dish and it was my favorite.

JJ had the "Glace au malt, sorbet au chocolat, espuma de café, biscuit au lait vanille" (Malted ice cream,  chocolate sorbet, frothy coffee, vanilla milk biscuit).  Again, we all loved this dessert. It had different nuances and layers so it was a very nicely composed dessert. You had the creaminess of the ice cream and then you had the crunchy texture of the "crumble".  It was a hit.


Braden Perkins and  Laura Adrien, the owners are excellent Chefs. I've had their food in different venues, and I have to say, I was really disappointed with Ellsworth. As many know, I'm a stickler for the dining experience being about the "whole" experience, from the time you make the reservations until you leave. I love their online booking system, so you can book any time you want. Thumbs up to them on this simple technology however they don't like to take reservations on the phone, preferring the online system, and the online system sends an email 24 hours before your reservation which you must reconfirm or your reservation is cancelled.  And if you do need to cancel they request 24 hours notice.

The one of many problems we had was the noise level. The restaurant was not at full capacity, but our friend J had a decibel measuring device and it reached as high as 95 (db), which according to hearnet.com "...with regular sustained exposure may cause permanent hearing damage." They also had piped in music which did not help. And, you're not a cafeteria, change out the utensils before the next course. But the service was very good and attentive.

Now onto the food. We unanimously did not like the entrées nor the plats. They could easily be fixed. In fact, I met some friends afterwards for apéros (afternoon cocktails) and I must've drunk a whole gallon of water because I was so thirsty. I can only attribute it to the chicken.  However, the desserts were perfection, but for some of us, desserts do not make a meal.  My rating would've been lower had it not been for the desserts and wines.

With a bottle each of a white and of a red wine, which by the way were excellent, and coffee our bill came to 44€ per person.


  1. I love cooking with the broccoli stem too. I suspect it was the anchovy butter that led to the bitter after-taste you were experiencing. I would have gone with truffle butter instead. And yes, noisy restaurants don't do it for me either. Why would you want to have a fine dining experience at a rock concert? Cheers, Stephan

    1. Thanks for your input. It's an average dining establishment, I expected some noise, but this was loud even by American standards. I just read a review similar to mine on Tripadviser, except they liked the broccoli, but agreed the chicken was salty and pasta was gummy raw. They're new, so hopefully they'll fix some of these flaws. Semilla had some cooking issues initially when they first opened, and I've been back sense, what an improvement. Feedback to me is always a good thing. Nest-ce pas?

  2. Maybe they want to focus more on the wines and not the food?