Service begins at lunch on Monday and runs continuously through very late Fri evening/Sat morning. All prices are the same, lunch, dinner, and late night. If you can go @ 1 in morning, it is a great great time and party. Appetizers run @10-15 Euros, get the hot fish pate. Entrees run from 17 Euros to @ 25 Euro and while portions are much smaller than in previous times, it is unlikely you will finish whatever you get. Brouilly is a superb beaujolais here and should be ordered. Comes in litre but you are only charged by what you drink. Dessert l get is one chocolate mousse for the table. Have had equally wonderful, if better food and more expensive, time at L'Ami Louis, treated wonderfully and have had no complaints at all at either place.
I should clarify my thoughts, to avoid a misunderstanding. My experience at L'Ami Louis was not a disaster, far from it, and it was several years ago. The lady and I ordered the roast chicken for two. It was quite good, and the salad and frites that came with it, were simple but tasty. If I'm able to go there again, I would order sea scallops or the entrecote.
A couple from New York seated nearby, ordered the foie gras appetizer and gave us some, and it was nice. I asked the Maitre'D to recommend a wine to match up with our chicken, and he refused. I had no idea why he did that, but our waiter, conversely, was gracious and attentive. Also, as I recall, I asked for a glass of Calvados after dinner, and was told they didn't have any. This astonished me, I couldn't imagine a French cafe without it. I had the feeling that the Maitre'D didn't like Americans, but I could've been wrong. The cafe's reputation for having a movie star clientele seemed well-deserved, because Mel Brooks and Anne Bancroft were having dinner that night.
I must add, I have visited Paris only 3 times. My fine dining experiences were limited to a lunch at Taillevent and a very enjoyable dinner at Michel Rostang, although I've had the pleasure of visiting a handful of grand cafes in the Nice/Eze/Grasse/Monaco area. My other meals in Paris were mostly casual. We visited Chez Denise because a newspaper columnist gave it a strong review.
My visits to Paris include the usual touristy things, museums, historical places, etc. However, enjoying the food and wine, and visiting Dehillerin to buy cookware, to try to create good food myself, is the most enjoyable part.
Not many years ago, during a visit, Paris was amidst a heat wave. Dressing up for dinner was unappealing. We visited a small market, and were greeted warmly by the owner and his wife. He insisted we sample his cheeses and wines. We took away baguettes, goat cheese, sliced jambon, fresh tomatoes and vegetables, and a bottle of modest Cotes du Rhone. Dinner that night was a picnic on our hotel room's tiny 2d floor terrace overlooking Rue Racine near the Sorbonne, and it was one of the most enjoyable meals in years.
This could happen anywhere, but for some reason, such splendid experiences happen most often in Paris. This is why infrequent visitors should be encouraged to be adventurous, and to seek out all the wonderful food-related things to do, boulangeries, patisseries, fromageries, the open streetside markets, the many shops selling glorious French wines for bargain prices, etc., besides enjoying grand dining. Paris is the food capital of the world, and a warm, friendly city.
I visit chowhound.com regularly because it's a tremendous source of reliable recommendations, and I'm grateful for the generous, helpful advice from everyone here. I wish I could offer more meaningful contributions. If I could move to Paris, I would.
Delucacheesemonger, thank you for your reminder, that Chez Denise is open all night. A 2 a.m. dinner there is surely more fun than a barrel of monkeys.
re: Greg in Chicago
My last time at L'Ami Louis in October 2008, they put a magnum of 1962 Calvados on the table and we were charged for what we drank. A barrel of monkeys at Chez Denise is closer than you think, it is a fabulous time there late, as the primary visitors are food people coming before they go to work at 4 AM or so.
I happened to dine at Chez Denise in November, 2007, and have their bill handy. The owner and his wife were so kind in seating us without a reservation, and I enjoyed it so much, I insisted on returning again the following evening.
Prices may have risen since then, but the lady's beef brochette, and my hanger steak ("onglet"), were each 24 euros. A liter of the house Brouilly was 25, one order of the "floating island" dessert was 9, and with bottled water, total was 85 euros.
Bear in mind, though, portions are enormous. A portion of onglet is two fairly large steaks, and it was a struggle for two of us to finish the one dessert. Huge.
The next evening, the lady ordered tripe cooked in Calvados, and it would've fed 4 people. Someone seated nearby ordered steak tartare, and it was a mountain of food.
A group of people could eat at Chez Denise modestly, if they so chose. I found Chez Denise much more enjoyable and welcoming than L'Ami Louis. Other diners were enjoying themselves greatly, and most of them were French. I can't wait to return.