The clock was ticking, my final hours in Paris weighing on my mind. I had plans for dinner at Chez l’Ami Jean and intentions of going to Musée d’Art Moderne beforehand. But by late afternoon, the weather had turned raw and damp so instead of Velibing or terrace surfing, I found myself in front of my computer. On Twitter. And then I saw it. “Just got a cancellation of 2 people for tonight's dinner @ 20:00. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org if you want the seats.”
I had never tried getting reservations to Hidden Kitchen while I lived in Paris, but only because I heard it was next to impossible. With a relatively steep price tag of 90 euros, it also seemed like a special occasion treat. But on Thursday, I jumped at the chance and luckily Michael was willing to forgo the charcuterie and rice pudding at l’Ami Jean for an intimate dinner for 16 at Hidden Kitchen.
Braden and Laura, the sweet couple from Seattle running the show, started the underground supper club about four years ago in their amazing first arrondissement apartment.
Braden is the brawn behind the stove.
Laura is his accomplice with a special knack for wine and dessert. I was also excited that the fabulous Meg Zimbeck was on hand and that they had an adorable Boston Terrier (though he didn’t put in an appearance until the end of the night).
Each course was plated as exquisitely as anything you’ve ever seen in New York or Paris (or on Top Chef—yeah, you). Braden came out and explained each dish, while Laura shared what wine they had selected to go with it (I loved this Ze Bulle “Zéro Pointé” by Chateau Tour Grise in the Loire Valley that we had with dessert).
My photos are atrocious. But with these few, you get a sense of the artistry and skill that goes into every wee plate of the 10-course dinner. The flavors were so layered and beautifully orchestrated and nuanced.
For example, this perfectly cooked piece of smoked salmon was balanced on top of a fresh ravioli filled with fava bean. It was topped with dill, mustard seed and had a sliver of radish.
How does he come up with these pairings? I have no idea, but it was delicious.
I’m sorry I missed Van Dongen at MAM and that Chez l’Ami Jean had to wait until next time. But finishing a week in Paris at Hidden Kitchen (actually, we finished by shutting down Experimental a couple hours later, but that's another story) was a little like la cerise sur le gateau.