Paris Report: Chez Dumonet, Les Papilles, Chez L’Ami Jean
Since this board was so instrumental to the restaurants I chose for my trip, I thought I should at least report back on my experience! A huge thank you to all of you who give your recommendations on a regular basis. I feel like this whole new world of Paris restaurant awareness has been opened to me, and I can’t wait to go back and try more from the list!
Ok so here we go…These were the restaurants I tried during my trip mid-May:
Friday Lunch: LES PHILOSOPHES
So glad we went light for lunch. We ordered the tomato tarte tatin, 3 salads, and a pichet of rosé. The salads were huge, good service, cute place. Perfect little spot in the Marais for a no-fuss lunch right off the plane.
Friday Dinner: JOSEPHINE CHEZ DUMONET
Oh man. Where to begin. We had an amazing evening here. This was my two friends’ first time in France, first real meal in Paris, and it did not disappoint. The waiters were nice and joked around the whole meal, making it a really fun experience we will always remember.
We had a little amuse bouche of cauliflower soup, followed by artichoke hearts au beurre citron to share. The artichoke hearts were just okay, but the main courses were fantastic. I had duck confit, and it was perfect…I had been dreaming of duck confit for months, and this could not have been any better. The other girls had chateaubriand with sauce béarnaise and boeuf bourgignon. That boeuf bourgignon is one of the best beef dishes I have ever tasted, certainly the best BB I’ve ever had. The meat was fall-apart tender, and the sauce…I wanted to dip my face in it. My friends also said it’s one of the best things they’ve ever tasted. Oh France, how I love you.
For dessert, we ordered the Grand Marnier soufflé, but were first brought a little plate of tiny desserts (madelines, chocolate covered grapes, tiny crisps w/ raspberry), then while eating the soufflé, we were brought the mille feuille “from the chef” (maybe bc earlier I told him the food was so good we wanted to cry?), and then ANOTHER plate of mini desserts…yes, 4 desserts after we were already stuffed! We rolled out of there around 1am, fair-ing la bise goodbye to our waiter after our 4 and a half hour meal. Food, service, everything. Loved it. Wonderful first night. The duck confit & BB were top. If you want traditional French in old school atmosphere, look no further.
Saturday lunch: LES PAPILLES
Oh, Les Papilles. Yet another sauce to dip my face in. I want to shout it from the mountaintops. The food was so fresh and delicious, the service was friendly, the interior is adorable.
1st course: Sweet potato soup poured over a collection of tiny carrots, bacon, chives, croutons, & crème fraiche. Amazing. I wanted to drink the whole serving bowl, but I knew we had duck coming.
2nd course: Magret de canard w/ spring vegetables in an incredible sauce served in a cocotte. So delicious. This was my friends’ first time to eat duck, and they loved it!
3rd: Blue cheese (didn’t catch the name) w/ a candied plum. Great contrast w/ the sweetness.
4th: Didn’t catch the dessert's name, but it was a delicious super creamy custard – smooth, light, sweet and perfect, w/ a strawberry topping.
It was all incredible, and I would go back in a heartbeat. I’m amazed by the tiny kitchen! I loved the whole concept of not getting to choose and just having the set menu. The soup, the duck…just excellent.
Saturday Dinner: CHEZ L'AMI JEAN
Finally the moment has come. After reading about this place for over 2 years, I finally got to try it. We arrived at 9:15, and the place was wall-to-wall packed, bustling, and toasty warm. I had a moment of panic when trying to translate the menu for my friends. For some reason the menu was not very clear to me. Luckily one of the waiters came to my rescue and said he would help us. Two of us were going to get the chef's tasting menu for 40e. The chef sends out whatever he wants but it will be: Soup, 2 fish courses, a meat course, and 2 desserts.
There was a slight miscommunication here. I asked if they had chicken on the menu for my friend who didn’t want the tasting menu. The waiter said he would ask the chef if he could make a chicken dish special for us (oh great, might as well ask him to spit in our food, right?). Turns out he was bringing the tasting menu for all 3 of us, which was comical because my picky-eater friend didn’t like the dishes, and I didn’t want to be an embarrassment or insult to the kitchen, so who do you think got to eat two of everything? This would normally be great except that I was still incredibly full from lunch and had trouble finding room for all this food.
1st course: Parmesan soup poured over a mixture of tiny diced vegetables and croutons. Delicious.
2nd course: Calamari pieces in an amazing light sauce w/ a side of pistachio cream, herbs, & pistachios crumbled on top
3rd course: Lobster in a cream sauce w/ several sauces surrounding it. So good. Getting incredibly full at this point.
Ok-After the first 3 courses, we're crossing our fingers thinking "Please be dessert next, please be dessert next." We couldn't even handle one more tiny plate of food. And then KA-BOOM!! The waiter slams down this gigantic Le Creuset dutch oven that shook the whole table and lifts off the lid to reveal what appears to be about 9 whole chickens that the chef has made for us. We all gasped loudly, covered our mouths, and screamed a little bit in shock. It was quite the scene. Can I describe how FULL I am already as the waiter starts plating this delicious perfectly cooked chicken w/ huge fresh peas, asparagus, carrots, garlic & herbs? I forced it down in pain, bc it was that good. We also had a side of mashed potatoes that I did not even recognize as mashed potatoes because they were so smooth, creamy and buttery. “Excusez-moi, monsieur, c’est quoi, ca?” “C’est pour partager.” “Oui, mais qu’est-ce que c’est?” “Puree de pommes de terre” Oh mashed potatoes. Yes, I don’t get out much. Merci, I’m an idiot. They were delightful. I’m pretty sure the ingredients were 1 stick butter, 1 piece of potato. And I accept.
Dessert #1: Strawberry sorbet & fresh strawberries topped w/ fluffy sweet cream. A. maz. ing. (but I’m so full I’m dying)
Dessert #2: The famous rice pudding. With that salted caramel cream. Wow. Dying. Didn’t even put a dent in that bowl, are they crazy??
Loved the food. Loved the atmosphere. Eventually the waiters even warmed up to us. Every dish was just delightful, especially the dessert. I will be back.
The best part: Yes, you are pretty much sharing a table with your neighbors, and who happens to sit next to us but 2 chefs from Le Miroir & the 2 owners (head chef/maitre d) of Les Fables de la Fontaine. I didn’t believe them at first. (Right. “Your” restaurant, Les Fables. Mhmm.) Except after our 4 hour meal extravaganza together, they invited us to come have a drink down the street at Les Fables, which was closed for the night because they were on holiday. Jego also came and joined us for the evening, so here I am 20 minutes later in fairytale chef land, inside of Les Fables dancing to the Cotton-Eyed Joe with Stephane freaking Jego and all these other chefs. Someone pinch me. Hilarious, amazing, I love Paris.
Sunday we headed to Provence for a week, and then the following Sunday, I came back to Paris on my own…I will make a “Part 2” post so this one is not too long…but I loved ALL these places…bless you, Chowhounders!! You know your stuff!!
I similarly had a great meal at Chez Dumonet. The Beef Bourguignon was spectacularly good. Probably the best thing I ate in Paris that week. The depth of flavor is really impressive. I ordered the demi portion, which was still a generous serving. The buttered noodles on the side make it a very filling meal. This is the type of dish that was so good that I'll be stuck ordering this dish every time I go to Chez Dumonet, which may disappoint the chef, but how could I not?
We also had a very nice meal at Les Papilles on a prior Paris trip. The food and service were both excellent. I would rank Dumonet ahead of it, though. If you do go to Les Papilles, I'd suggest stopping by the chocolate store of Franck Kestener as you leave -- it's down the street. Everything we bought -- and we bought a lot -- has been outstanding. I especially enjoyed their macarons, which is saying something because I've eaten the macarons from dozens of Parisian bakers, including all the legendary ones. Kestener's were dense and chewy, just as I like them.
Your report of Chez L'Ami Jean couldn't be more different from yussdov's in an earlier thread. I guess the fact that you went partying with the resident and visiting chefs afterwards meant you got in with the in crowd even though you were not a regular which jives with what yussdov was saying.
I noticed that! I find it very strange that it can be so differing. I do think the waiters became much more friendly once we became friends w/ the table next to us, but even before those guys sat down, the waiter was kind enough to ask if the chef would make us that special chicken dish just because my friend wanted chicken! (Which really surprised me...I felt like that was above and beyond, even though I was just trying to ask if they had any chicken on the menu). I will say the service was definitely more brusque and hurried before the chef table friendship was formed but the food started coming out before they sat down, so that would have been just as good regardless. I had read mixed reviews prior, so I came in expecting the worst and left completely surprised.