Today, three French transplants will open a charming new café in Wrigleyville. Maison Parisienne (3307 N. Clark St., Lake View) represents the dream of three 30-somethings from Paris—pastry chef Styven Charton, chef Audrey Naccache, and manager Erwan Le Nan. So, why quit Gay Paree for a place known as much for its bad weather as for its food? Per Charton: “Ten percent of people in France are unemployed. I decided to see if the American dream exists any more.”
But why Chicago—as opposed to any other American metropolis? New York is the obvious choice, but, Charton says, it’s too crowded and noisy for a laid-back Parisian to truly thrive. Another French connection: “We love Michigan Lake,” says Charton. He, along with his boyfriend/co-owner Le Nan, originally hails from the west coast of France. “We wanted to find a little bit of the same—the sea or the lake—in America.”
Across the pond, Charton graduated from the Ferrandi International Pastry School in Paris, and Le Nan managed a branch of Nicolas, a popular French chain of wine retailers. As for Audrey Naccache, she learned to cook from her parents in their family bistro. Her specialties include quiche Lorraine and other savory tarts and pies. Expect many more quiches and sandwiches, plus sweeter offerings courtesy of Charton. The pièce de résistance: his signature pecan tart with vanilla cream and caramelized apples.
Francophiles can order bakery-style at the counter Tuesday through Sunday, with sit-down brunch service on the weekends. But don’t expect an American-brunch—this is, after all, Maison Parisienne. There will be no egg dishes (“Never—this is a French breakfast.”) outside of the quiche Lorraine. Instead, expect hearty French favorites like boeuf bourguignon.