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CHEZ L'AMI LOUIS

Just back from Paris. Once again, went for Sunday lunch to Chez L'Ami Louis. I know the place certainly has its share of detractors (‘way too expensive,’ ‘better food of this type to be found in Paris,’ ‘you can do better on a value/cost basis,’ etc.), but I have to say it really is my all-time favorite restaurant meal. Period.

This time skipped the foie gras appetizer and had the duck confit (cold), and my wife and I shared our favorite dish on the menu - the escargot. The escargot at L'Ami Louis are one off the most fabulous things that I've ever put in my mouth. The duck was a departure from the usual foie gras appetizer that I order, and the meat was sooo dense and flavorful.

For the main course, we ordered what we always have had in the past - the roast Bresse chicken, served with a potato galette. The roast chicken is really to die for - so moist, with wonderful gravy. Many people order the pommes frites, but those in the know get the galette - so crispy outside and fluffy inside with fresh garlic on top. And a nice salad on the side as well.

The cost is definitely high, and getting reservations a process in itself, but despite the costs and difficulties, when one finally sits down and partakes of a lunch such as this in Paris with someone you love on an early winter Sunday afternoon, there is simply nothing that can be improved upon. Worth every Euro.

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  1. Can you let us know the best way to make reservations? Also, what was the tab for lunch (and did you have wine)?

    1 Reply
    1. re: pjaym17

      When we went a number of years ago, we had our hotel call. The place was booked, but we decided to go by anyway to see if we could get a table (Sunday night at 9pm), which we did after a 45 minute wait at a nearby seedy bar - a v. interesting experience. If you decide to try this, I would strongly recommend that you keep your cab waiting until you've confirmed that you can get a table - at least when we went, the neighborhood was a bit dicey/empty, and we would not have been able to just hail a cab to go elsewhere.

    2. We had a fun time dining here summer of '05. Made the mistake of ordering both the fois gras & confit along with mains. I wouldn't say it was my favorite - but definitely memorable for many reasons above & beyond the food.

      I called the concierge at our hotel about 6 weeks before our arrival and had him make reservations. Actually, found that by calling and introducing myself we were able to then continue via email. Excellent concierge at an ok hotel on the Left Bank.

      1. L'Amis Louis is an institution. Agree its great. Best meal ever? Hmmmnnn. It's really in its own category and I agree its great... I love it. The dishes you mention are classic... killer. Its hard not to order the bresse chicken, but if its the right time of season, try the baby lamb. But its what it is... to my taste I'd put other places in the best meal ever category... like Robuchon, Troisgros, Bras, Veyrat, Boyer, Girardet... chefs like that.

        1. pjaym17:

          After many modes of dealing with the reservation line of L'Ami Louis, her is my suggestion -

          You can take your chances with a hotel concierge. If (and it's a big IF) they can make and confirm for you a reservation, than more power to you.

          Being the control freak that I am, I like to do everything myself, thus - I call about six weeks in advance. I always make it a point to reach then at about 1:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m. their time on a Wednesday through Friday, as it's difficult to get them to answer the phone at any other time. When I call that early in advance they ALWAYS tell me 'call two weeks before, call two weeks before.' Fine. A couple of weeks later (about four weeks before I want the reservation) I call again. Sometimes (very rarely) they'll book you then - but most times they'll say again 'call two weeks before.' Fine. About ten days later (just outside the suggested two week zone) I call again. This time, I almost always get booked - especially if you want a coveted Sunday lunch reservation, because if you actually wait exactly until exactly two weeks before, they're suddenly 'fully booked, we have no tables!' When you call this time ask to speak to Louis (I don't know if that's his real name or not) - he's the only one who takes the bookings. Groveling is suggested and appreciated. Having someone who speaks fluent French call with you if you don't speak the language also helps.

          After you have the reservation, I call to confirm with Louis seven days before my date. Then I call about two days before AGAIN to reconfirm with Louis (or at that point have my concierge do it on my behalf) - they have been known to 'lose' some American reservations. And that's how I've never had any problem getting a table at that restaurant.

          And to WineTravel's comment:

          Intelligent people can certainly have a difference of opinion. I've mopst of the chef's restaurants you've mentioned at one point or another and have had wonderful experiences. We just returned from Alinea in Chicago (the full 27 course flight) which was transporting!

          But I'm just one of those guy who feels that my best (or imaginary last) meal would not involve the fireworks of Robuchon, the finesse of Keller, the extravagance of Anschatz, or the wizadry of Gagnaire. My perfect meal would be something humbler like a great burger, or a simple bowl of pasta with white truffles, but the dreamiest for me - the escargot, the roast Bresse chicken with potato galette, and a little duck confit or foie gras at Chez L'Ami Louis - and did I mention being in Paris on a Sunday in early winter with the late afternoon light filtering through the front of the dining room where I'd sitting with my wife?

          6 Replies
          1. re: matsonjones

            That is some procedure to getting a reservation.

            1. re: observor

              It seems you are dredging up old posts, good. A friend here in Paris reserves for me two weeks in advance. l come to this restaurant once a year and no other restaurant in Paris is looked forward to more. Yes they are crabby, yes they are hideously expensive, yes it is a very worn look, the bathrooms are another story. However, as stated by me in another post on this thread and to agree heartily with Schatzieman, they are the best at the few things they do. The escargot are 38 euros for way more than a dozen so where Allwol got his $150/dozen l do not know. Last year with two not so modest bottles of wine our tab was 400 euros for two. l so look forward to my res in a few weeks. Also it is not just the Americans whose reservations get lost. A born and bred Parisian had it happen to him about six months ago. If l showed up and they said 'forget this address' l would probably not return either, and it would be my loss.

              1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                Someone characterized the cote de boeuf as tasteless...hope that isn't true. As for the rudeness aspect, I find that is a tired act...though I guess if you are in a high demand restaurant you don't have to be nice.

                1. re: observor

                  I (now, since I got caught out talking about a 1989 experience, truth in lending, I haven't been in decades but I do look at the window menu and recall my meals there, when he was alive, disabled and dead) never found anything tasteless just outrageously over-priced and apparently now over-Americanized. I say go if you can afford it, just don't tell us in 15 years there's better, cheaper, elsewhere.

                  1. re: observor

                    No it was not tasteless. Meat is from Desnoyers as is Chez L'Ami Jean. This is the best butcher in town. The cut here is thicker and bigger and IMHO better. They get a better char on the meat. They are not rude, at least to me, sort of like a Jewish Deli with major attitude. l find it funny as do they. Is it worth the tariff, who knows, l go and love it. CAJ charges 60 euros, LAL charges 120 euros for a hunk that is 40-50% larger, so who knows or really cares.

            2. I'm associated with a group which each year books the entire restaurant for the last Sunday evening in January. They have done so for at least the last fifteen years. I make it about every three years. Its an incredible experience, since we order just about everything on the menu. From memory the appetizers include the above mentioned escargots, foie gras and scallops. The mains include the great chicken, lamb and beef. The sides are the wonderful thin frites and the potato cake. The only area where we go light are with desserts where we have only the delicious fruit. Of course the wine flows freely. The only problem with the evening is that I eat far too much and feel bloated. I've never seen the final l'addition, but I think it approaches $500 per person.