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Jan 17, 2009 01:16 PM

Questions about Chez L'Ami Jean

Hello. :)

From what I've been reading, it sounds like Chez L'Ami Jean might not be a bad choice for non-mean/poultry eaters like ourselves as they have a few seafood options but would we have to order à la carte or could we still go with fixed menu?

How is the service ?

And their wine list price- and quality-wise?

Or, would we be better off going to a seafood restaurant altogether such as Fables de la Fontaine? I'm also contemplating La Cagouille and L'Epi Dupin.

I'm also having a craving for sole meunière and risotto (strange, I know). Any place where I might be able to eat a good version of both?


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  1. L' ami Jean and Fables de la Fountaine are not in the same league. First of all you can not count on L' Ami Jean to have a fish or the fish you like on the menu that night. It is more expensive to order a la cate there. Their wine list is fine but not fabulous as is typical of a restaurant like this. Fables has a lovely wine list but not huge or in depth if that is what you are looking for. .

    8 Replies
    1. re: BarbaraM48

      Thank you Barbara. As much as I'd like to give CAJ a try, I think I'll pass since ordering à la carte might send our bill closer to 200 euros for two.

      Right now, I'm split between Fables and L'Ecailler du Bistrot. I can't decide if I want something with a twist or something traditional and straightforward.

      1. re: kikisakura

        I cannot speak to the seafood issue (the three of us stuffed ourselves on a veal chops and foie gras for two), but for the three of us, with two desserts, the bill was around 220 Euro (and that was more food that you can imagine). It was the second best meal I've ever had in my life.

      2. re: BarbaraM48

        Not certain what Barbara means by "not in the same league". IMO both are a similar calibre. OK Fables has a Michelin star but from memory they are at similar price points and the wine lists at both are good - CAJ is especially good on wines from the south west.

        The difference is Fables is a specialist fish restaurant serving great food with a modern twist. CAJ is more traditional with a lot more emphasis on meat. Fables has two sittings, with a bit more space and is slightly more relaxed whilst CAJ has 3+ sittings and is quite cramped. In both the ambiance suits the food.

        1. re: BarbaraM48

          I ate at L'Ami Jean recently and was quite disappointed. While the food was tasty, ordering a la carte gets expensive fast. Also, the service was pretty erratic. It was definately overhyped.

          The best seafood meal I had in Paris was at Brasserie Sufferen, not too far from L'Ami Jean. We had oysters and bulot, very fresh.

          1. re: Tom from Raleigh

            Sorry for your disappointment, l am usually very fussy and have been there at least 10 times, by myself, with one person ,and as many as 8. On every occasion, was treated wonderfully, food was very hot and always perfect and the place is one of my favorite places in Paris for a bistro meal along with Chez Denise. Never found it overpriced based on quality. Guess that is what makes it a ballgame or why there is vanilla and chocolate.

            1. re: Delucacheesemonger

              Will only be in Paris for 1 night. How can I make reservations at CAJ from the States?

              1. re: ncara

                They have a website with an email address:


                but I don't think they take reservations online. Best bet is to call them:

                33 1-47-05-86-89

            2. re: Tom from Raleigh

              Thanks Tom, it's always interesting to hear a different opinion/experience. I can handle erratic service as long as it's not paired with outright rudeness or other types of serious attitude problems.

              L'Ami Jean certainly gets a lot of press/hype and often times, that translates to higher prices & poorer quality. So I feel a bit reluctant but I'm curious enough to give it one try and see what the fuss is all about for myself. :)

          2. Eat there often, both lunch, and dinner. If ordering a la carte, one tends to order less courses, e.g. the famous rice pudding for dessert can easily serve 4. Checks seem to generally come out to @ 60-70 Euro/PP with a bottle of their lovely Cahors per 2 persons.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Delucacheesemonger

              Thanks txgr99 & Delucacheesemonger ,

              I finally found a pic of their menu here:


              It seems like they have several seafood options for both courses. :) L'Ecailler du Bistrot still appeals to me and we'll definitely check in out but I'll also try to get a table for lunch at CAJ.

              (Don't kill me but) I have never really taken to French food most likely due to my dietary restrictions but I am going to give it another honest try instead of reverting back to mainly eating "ethnic" food while in Paris.

            2. I was in Paris over last weekend and had a superb sole meuniere at Le Dome, in Montparnasse. Pricey of course, but didn't seem much worse than the same dish other places (about 45 E as I recall). The service was very good, correct but warm. I also had the queues de langoustines as a first course (warm, served with a fennel salad and slightly pickled tasting zucchinis, very good). My companion had oysters, supremely briney, which turned out to be more to my taste than his.
              The night before I had sole at L'espadon bleu. Good, but not as good, and I didn't care much fort he place itself, rather cold and modern for my tastes.

              1. This board has elevated Chez L'Ami Jean to stratospheric "cult" status. It is just one among dozens of excellent bistros in Paris. I am not sure the extreme cramped quarter, high noise level and the turning of the tables really make up for the very good food.

                5 Replies
                1. re: PBSF

                  The question of whether the incomfort makes up for very good food is a very good one. I personally strongly doubt it.

                  But I disagree with your assessment nevertheless. The level of cooking and ingredients at l'Ami Jean sets is apart from most very good bistrots in Paris. In my book, only a handful of bistrots navigate in those stratospheric, as you say, cooking levels. The point is, many bistrots pretend to cook like starred restaurants, but only La Régalade, l'Ami Jean and Christophe actually do.

                  1. re: souphie

                    I agree. But you have to be prepared for the atmosphere, which is more like a gastropub--very informal, relaxed but with incredible food. Jego has fun cooking and his attitude is reflected in his staff. Personally, I love the atmosphere, but you have to get into it. The menu is a great bargain and last time I was there the chef threw in an extra course of superb sauteed scampi. I can still taste the rice pudding!

                    1. re: globalgourmet

                      For pure seafood enjoyment I love La Caguille on the Left Bank. Atmosphere can be a little bland, as it is a hangout for businessmen and politicos. Just go for the shellfish and starters, skip the main courses which can be boring. The oysters and mussels are as good as it gets.

                      They also have a incredible cognac collection.

                    2. re: souphie

                      What about Le Comptoir? Does it compare?

                      1. re: souphie

                        Souphie, I am interested in many of the commetns you make on Chow hound, so i wonder if i can trouble you to consider my restaurant choices. I am a very passionate foodie, but travelling with my 12 year old son. The trip is about him and a bonding experience, so i dont want to bore him with food (though if eh gets steak and chips and we can be out of a restaurant in 90 minuts max he will be happy. The places i am contemplating in paris are L'entrecote, Passage53, chez Francis, Wepler (before a show at the moulin Rouge) and Ami Louisthen in Avignon, Christiean Etienne and La Fourchette, then Oustau de Baumaniere (we have an open night at Les Baux...any suggestions, and finally the restaurant at Le Castellas in Provence. I would be thrilled to hear any alternatives you would suggest

                    3. Hi everyone,

                      We had our lunch at L'Ami Jean a few days ago and I don't think the restaurant was the right choice for us or at least for me. Unfortunately, the only seafood options they had were uncooked fish and eating raw fish makes me sick to the point that my stomach spasms. I had hard time swallowing the food let alone enjoy them. Of course, this has everything/ to do with my personal preferences and no fault of the restaurant. Service was good and the rice pudding was indeed delicious but I don't think I'd return just for the dessert.

                      We ate out at several other places including L'Ecailler du Bistrot (simple and tasty food; service was flawless) but nothing really stood out in anyway. We did return to all of our old favorites "ethnic" restaurants but for us, the best foodie experience was going to the market and preparing simple dinner at home.

                      The most disappointing part of the week though was not finding a good bakery and we tried really hard. We usually go to Kayser since it's around the corner from where we stay but he thinks they are not that much above average. So, we sked friends & family who live in Paris, we asked clerks at the cheese store where they shop for bread, we checked blogs, and we tried random spots but we never found anything we truly loved. :( Maybe we'll have better luck next time around.

                      7 Replies
                      1. re: kikisakura

                        I'm surprised to read that some didn't have a great meal L'Ami Jean! Sure it's hectic in there however just walking into that place you know that's what to expect...our waiter was very helpful and gave us great service...maybe some took their pace as impatient? The owner was there and he spoke with us briefly while we sat at our table and he at the counter - couldn't have been nicer. The bone marrow was the best I have ever eaten! The wild boar was wonderful as well.. (I write this fully aware that not everyone eats these things)The only thing for me was that the rice pudding isn't as great as they say it is, I only ordered that instead of my usual chocolate dessert because our waiter insisted it was "the best i would ever eat"... well, it wasn't but who cares the meal was outstanding!

                        1. re: kikisakura

                          Did you check my map of bakeries and not find what you were looking for? Damn!


                          1. re: kikisakura

                            CAn you tell us what your bill ended up being? I know you said the only fish they had was raw but did they have vegetarian options as well?

                            1. re: Ilovegoodfoodandwine

                              Sorry for the late reply.

                              Our bill was around 110 euros including a bottle of wine, I think.

                              I don't remember any vegetarian options offered that day and given that CAJ serves Basque cuisine, it really isn't a good fit for vegetarians, IMHO. They use meat bits even in their seafood dishes. It was easier to find something for me to eat at the Museum of Ham in Madrid, Spain. Kinda funny but true!

                              I was in Paris a week ago and I managed to find a very good Lebanese cafe right outside the Odeon metro station that serves many vegetarian dishes. We had some cheese puffs, a vegetarian platter, and two glasses of wine for 23 euros. The complimentary desserts that came with out bill was very tasty too. Of course, I forgot to write down the name but it's right outside the metro.

                              Souphie, thank you for the link. We will give places on your list including Des Gâteaux et du Pain a try when I return to Paris for a longer stay in April.

                              1. re: kikisakura

                                Is Chez L'ami Jean open for lunch?

                                1. re: sethd

                                  Yup, ate there with Souphie once and shared a cote du veau that was memorable. Have eaten lunch there 10 times or so and actually prefer it to dinner.

                                  1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                    Yes -- Cote de veau is extraordinary and lunch is more relaxed, less packed than dinner. Not to mention the excellent company.