The last time Julia Kramer and Mike Sula both reviewed a hyped new restaurant, the two gave Grahamwich an unexpected critical lashing. Today, they have each released a new review (in Time Out and the Chicago Reader respectively) of Paris Club, R.J. and Jerrod Melman’s latest venture in River North. The Melman’s last project, Hub 51, wasn’t exactly a critical hit, but it certainly was a popular one, which made us wonder whether the reviews would get any better this time. Sula has already clued us into the smell emanating out of the floor boards, but what about the food?
• Let’s say that Sula was not impressed. He calls the menu an “unnavigable minefield of well-executed classics, incompatible oddballs, and hilariously misguided attempts to reinvent and popularize iconic French dishes.” The escargots bourguignonne are “physically inedible,” and the steak frites are “simply inexcusable coming from a kitchen overseen by so many accomplished chefs.” A few dishes work, like the steak tartare and the “drippings.” Still, he thinks it is “sad” that the restaurant has such an “unfocused, Disney-esque approximation of French food.” [Chicago Reader]
• Kramer, on the other hand, gives the Paris Club a solid three stars out of five. Though the menu is “sprawling,” and “you’re as likely to run into a success…as a flop,” she admits that the Melman brothers, “created another restaurant with great energy and not even a whisper of pretentiousness.” Basically, she hated the “croque-monsieur fingers,” loved the seafood platter, and ended up closing down the bar “seven hours after my reservation time.” [TOC]