The Parisian is a place that easily could hide in plain sight. The lovely, upmarket brasserie may be located in a busy shopping and entertainment plaza, but it’s tucked behind a discreet hedge and a grove of white patio umbrellas, almost out of view.
Hedge or no hedge, locals have found the 5-month-old restaurant and wine bar and now keep it bustling. Good for them – it’s too terrific of a spot to go unseen.
Owner Tarzi Benazzouz (the “Parisian” native in question) has created an inviting space. With its separate, dark-woods bar and lounge-area sofas, The Parisian offers you instant options: Have a glass of French vino and a starter at the bar while you wait for your flick to start at the nearby Cinepolis luxury theater. Or settle in at a table in the intimate dining room for a full meal. (Or skip the movie and do both.)
If you decide to go with the bar option, know that some delicious starters await. The Parisian’s menu lists a couple of mussel dishes, one emboldened by pan-seared chorizo ($13), another prepared with white wine, garlic and onion broth. French appetizer classics include foie gras ($22), a steak tartare rendition that’s served with fries ($14) and escargot ($13).
We took the rustic route and shared a simple charcuterie plate ($18). It was also a somewhat trendy choice, as sliced meats and garnishes on platters and boards have become the hot artichoke dip of the foodie generation. And because this is so, we’ve seen our share of monumental charcuterie plates laden with various types of cured meats, cheeses, gourmet this and that. This was not one of those epic plates. It was a perfect starter to be shared between two.
On this plate: air-dried salted ham from the Bayonne Basque area, shavings of garlicky sausage, a neat, black pepper-dusted rectangle of a most delectable duck mousse pate, a tangle of simply dressed arugula and several slices of fresh-baked baguette.
The deep, almost smoky flavors of the cured meats proved more enjoyable without the traditional (and filling) overload of garnishes. I love cheeses on a charcuterie board, but at The Parisian, those cheeses were part of another option: dessert. (We’ll get to that in a minute.) Plus, who needs to fill up on cheese when there’s a welcome basket of fresh, warm bread and creamy French butter to devour?
For those who wish more than a starter and sip, the entrée menu here also is a simple, well-crafted list. From a traditional coq au vin (wine-braised chicken with mushrooms and bacon lardoons, $26) to a duck confit (fat-poached duck leg with apple-prune sauce, $28), there are classics to fit a range of tastes. Even a nontraditional grilled salmon with coriander and garam masala ($24) seems at home in this brasserie setting.
I took the advice of our excellent server and tried one of the fish specialties, a pan-seared red snapper served in a vanilla sabaillon sauce ($28). So glad I did. The fish proved moist and enhanced perfectly by the light, creamy sauce. This sauce was beautifully balanced, subtle in rich, sweet and acidic notes. It was ladled generously over the fish so that it pooled around the accompanying rice and veggie medley, giving the composition a kind of risotto feel. And those veggies – broccoli, green beans, baby eggplant, baby tomatoes – they were expertly cooked and made better by a dip in that dreamy sauce.
Because a visit to a brasserie would not be complete (in my mind, at least) without a reason to indulge in frites (French fries), we also ordered the five-peppercorn New York strip steak ($29) and frites. This ample steak arrived sliced and fanned upon the plate, well ladled with the (green, white, black, pink and white) peppercorn sauce. The heap of frites were arranged by the steak, untouched by the sauce. It was a gorgeous plate, but my dining companion seemed none too pleased. He would have preferred to slice the steak himself. One could argue, however, that the sliced approached makes better use of the sauce, a dish highlight.
Either way, the steak proved tender and flavorful. More importantly for me, the thin, crispy frites were rock star stuff.
As for that cheese course I mentioned, we splurged at dessert time. We tried a three-cheese tasting plate ($16) that featured a semi-cured sheep-milk Manchego from Spain, a Valencay goat cheese from France and a Fourme d’Ambert cow milk cheese from France. They were served with stacks of crusty, toasted baguette slices and a small salad.
For sweeter notes, we also tried the dacquoise cake ($10), a nicely presented, rather sticky confection. The cake is a stack of almond and hazelnut meringue with buttercream. It’s topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, drizzled with caramel and presented in a pool of vanilla sauce with strawberry slices. It was both tasty and toothsome, as the meringue layers proved rather chewy – but the cake was delicious, so we persisted.
For a future visit, I’ve got my eye on a Crepes Suzette or maybe a sweet soufflé (if they are on the nightly specials list). That is, if I can resist the dessert cheese.
R E V I E W
ADDRESS: 201 N. U.S. Highway 1 (at Indiantown Road), Jupiter
PRICE RANGE: Moderate to expensive
FULL BAR: Yes, with separate bar area.
NOISE LEVEL: Pleasant, good for conversation.
HOURS: Open Tuesday through Saturday, for lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., for dinner from 5:30 to 10 p.m. Reservations are suggested for dinner.
CREDIT CARDS: Major cards accepted
RESERVATIONS: Walk-ins welcome.
WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: Yes
WHAT THE GRADES MEAN:
A — Excellent
B — Good
C — Average
D — Poor
F — Don’t bother