Saturday night is prime real estate in terms of eating out, so it’s no surprise that Jon and put a lot of effort into deciding where to go in Paris that night. Afaria and Spring, which get good buzz and sound very appealing, were both closed for Easter. C’est dommage!
We made a dinner reservation at Ze Kitchen Galerie, which – despite its super-hokey name – just got its first Michelin star and had good reviews everywhere: Le Fooding, Le Figaroscope, eGullet’s John Talbott, Gridskipper, other bloggers.
But though I looked forward to the Asian-accented food at Ze Kitchen, on Friday night, we traded one Kitchen for another. A miracle had happened – Jon and I learned we’d “gotten off the waitlist” to eat at the Hidden Kitchen.
Qu’est-ce que c’est?
Well, the Hidden Kitchen’s website describes the place as an “underground restaurant private dinner club in paris france.” It’s run by Laura and Braden, two young chefs from the US, who create a gourmet experience in their apartment two nights a week.
Part of the excitement about Hidden Kitchen stems from the quality of the food, which is creative and as New American as it gets, offering playful takes on “American” classics like meatloaf and strawberry shortcake.
The other part stems, no doubt, from the fact that Hidden Kitchen can seat only 12 people at a time. After all, it’s run out of Laura and Braden’s flat. Scarcity and exclusivity have a way of creating desirability. Jon and I will be the first to admit that we weren’t immune to the “it’s hard to get a reservation” pull.
I had worried that eating with ten strangers in someone’s apartment was going to feel like breakfast at a B&B (i.e., strained and awkward). But I needn’t have worried. Laura is a welcoming hostess, and wine pairings and the feeling that you’re sharing a special experience create good cheer.
Our dinner at the Hidden Kitchen made me think about why I eat out. I’m so focused on the food that I sometimes forget that the real joy of eating is who you’re eating with. The Hidden KItchen reminded me that it’s a great feeling to be welcomed into someone’s home and to have a dialogue, however brief, with the chef.
At 70 euros per person for a 9-course tasting menu, the creative food is worth the visit, but the experience of dining in the chef’s home and meeting new people is unforgettable. (Prepare yourself for an all-expat night, though).
Next time you’re planning a trip to Paris, request a reservation through the Hidden Kitchen website and cross your fingers . . . .