Indulgence can be overrated, and in fact, moderately pretentious, demolishing modesty and humility. Luxury can be over-drawn, where extravagant elements intertwine disharmoniously.
This, however, is not Verjus. The Parisian restaurant is unassuming with light rushing in like a sunroom off of a kitchen. Technique, ingredients and assembly speak to indulgence minus the bad connotations. The warmth of the orange-pink evening light is reflected in the atmosphere— the staff, the pacing, even the familiar foods refined to elegance.
Each amuse bouche was constructed to be savored and ephemeral, catering to both texture and flavor. The crispy chicken skin swathed with creamy meaty chicken liver or the crunchy sourdough crostini topped with fera and popping orbs of pickled mustard are prime examples. The four bites melted in the mouth, leaving the residue of freshness and a quiet innovation.
Some of the courses were confusing in a mysterious and magical way, in that they almost combined the unimaginable. The way different varieties and stages of tomatoes played together with the green purslane and the house-made toasted fresh milk cheese, dusted with a powder of dehydrated tomato, evoked the feelings of salad, unconnected but willing to converge. Two silvery sardines topped with tiny cubes of summery zucchini and new potato effortlessly brought together the briny with the mild, embellished with herbal dill and scientific dehydrated egg yolk.
Others looked familiar but guaranteed an inexplicable flourish of decadence. Plump yellow cappelletti nestled with nutty chanterelles evoked memories, but middles made of studded ricotta and cervelle created new ones. A polite pile of sirloin tartare exuded fineness, but the crisp nature and bite of the cucumbers and beans toned down the decadence while elevating the appeal to the tongue.
Dessert, too, only looked disjointed and unprepared: common oat moments and fresh peaches and pretty wild blueberries, spun into dreams with a sweet and creamy white chocolate mousse.
The insightful courses compounded expectations and anticipation with surprise and whimsy, manifestations of profound flavor profiles, thoughtful layered texture and attentive aesthetics. Verjus presented a deep knowledge of the complexities and simplicities of food and experience, resulting in more than just a meal.