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Jan 1, 2011 12:41 PM

L'Ami Louis Paris review

Paris certainly has an awful lot of fantastic restaurants. But few do a better roast chicken or foie gras terrine than L'Ami Louis. If you're looking for authentic French dishes, prepared in the simplest of fashions, and served in more than generous portions, this is the place.
L’Ami Louis is a legend in Paris. This little cosy restaurant has become one of the capital’s most famous eateries. Not only because Chirac and Clinton dined here at one point, but also because it is said to serve one of the world’s best roast chickens. The dining room is charming, a bit antique with an old chimney standing in the middle of it, it gives you a very warm impression. This also goes for the service, which is relaxed, friendly and quite humorous. Rarely does one see waiters, who seem to enjoy their work as much as those working here. It makes you feel well, and you are ready for the food. And what kind of food it was. Take for instance the foie gras. Served whole, this terrine is quite a mighty portion, so it is suggested you share, otherwise it might be all you are able to eat! However, the quality of the terrine is so good, that it quickly disappears, as it is not only very smooth, but also intensely flavoured. A beautifully rendered classic.
When you come here, one thing you can’t miss is the roast chicken. It is served whole, so sharing is advised here too, with a mountain of thin fries. From the moment it is presented at the table you know that this is not your ordinary roast chicken. No, this one has a beautiful, golden-brown skin that makes you drool with pleasure. Once served, it reveals to be crispy, whilst having moist and tasty meat. The accompanying jus makes this dish perfect. This is once again, a simple classic, but elevated to the highest level. Fantastic!
Such a meal is undoubtedly a great experience. It has something special about, which is probably why this restaurant is well-known. Whilst not being cheap, it certainly shows how good the products are, and how generous the portions are too. Thus you are left with a good feeling and certainly won’t regret having eaten here. A gem!

Hopefully this article of L'ami Louis can help you in the future to decide whether you visit or not. For pictures you can look at my site

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  1. I'll save up to be able to afford a meal there one day. Question for those who've been there. Is it OK for two people just to order ONE foie gras and ONE chicken to share?

    17 Replies
    1. re: theskyflyer

      Yes. In fact, they won't let you order more unless you insist.

      L'Ami Louis was discussed a lot on this board already -- maybe there's no need to start a new thread?

      For the record, the part with the service being friendly sounds at odd with the experience of many. And the chicken is not that great -- their mutton or beef are, quite frankly, much better. It's true that their chicken is better than most others you can get in this town. But it does not make it great. Too bad the Robuchon connection does not roast chicken anymore.

      1. re: souphie

        It's a strange thing but I have the impression that as European you can have an amazing time at L'Ami Louis but when you're American the difficulties will start. From my experiences (as a European) is that the cuisson of the chicken is most of the time brilliant, when they know that you're an aficionado they will do their very best.

        1. re: qli

          Would you say that LAL provides better service to "Europeans" than it does to "Americans" as a policy? This is good to know.

          1. re: Busk

            I have many American friends and it's always strange to see how their experiences differs from mine. You see in many Europe a lot of michelin restaurants having special "rooms" for Americans where they get a "special" treatment. But I think it's slowly getting better if I think of decades ago when this thing happened even more...

          2. re: qli

            Be assured that it is perfectly possible to be French and bullied by waiters.

            1. re: Ptipois

              Yes that does also happen, but I think that's part of the "game". Or Americans don't know how to play this game or the French waiters ar having a serious problem with Americans...

            2. re: qli

              Funny, I had the opposite impression -- Americans who spend a lot tend to receive the friendly service you mention, but poor locals like me can have their reservations disappear.

              1. re: souphie

                My thoughts exactly. And the privilege of being yelled at on your answerphone as if that weren't enough.

              2. re: qli

                As someone who has had to defend the common complaint "the French hate Americans", I feel the need to add my 2 centimes : Most French - certainly waitstaff - cannot identify an Anglophone's accent. It could be English, Irish, Australian, Canadian, South African, Scottish, Welsh, New Zealander, Jamaican or .... American. (I am usually 'guessed' to be British. I'm a Noo Yawka.) The difference in treatment/isolation might very well be native vs tourist, but it is unfair (?) to potential American tourists to fan the flames of French anti-Americanism, if it exists at all (I say not). I know this is not the point of the discussion and might be too serious an issue for this light-hearted exchange, but wanted to share my thoughts just the same. ;-)

                1. re: boredough

                  "Most French - certainly waitstaff - cannot identify an Anglophone's accent." - but they would probably guess the nationality by the way you dress - it isn't difficult.

                  But that said I don't believe there is a specific treatment for Americans vs. other tourists but in some places there is a different treatment for French vs. non-French (and at extremes Parisian vs. regional French). Why is this? IMO for no other reason than locals anywhere tend to know the unwritten rules and work with the waiters to make things run smoothly and efficiently. Try being a tourist in your own town (NYC) and fumble a food or drink order and you would see very quickly that there is a whole other language and protocol required to successfully interact with servers.

                  1. re: PhilD

                    You are absolutely right about dress being evidence of one's nationality, but it would be unusual to see a baseball cap, fanny pack or sneakers at dinner in a fine restaurant (not to say it isn't possible). Maybe poster qli's friends just fell into the non-Parisian category you describe.

                    1. re: boredough

                      "it would be unusual to see a baseball cap, fanny pack or sneakers at dinner in a fine restaurant (not to say it isn't possible)"

                      I once saw a lady come into the old Spring prominently carrying a mineral water bottle, then putting it on the table. What an unbearable eye sore. As usual, Daniel Rose was most gracious about it.

                      1. re: boredough

                        It's not the obvious items like those; even in fine dining restaurants you can quite easily spot different nationalities: the loafers, chinos and sports coat (often with a Ralph Lauren logo shirt) is the give away for someone from the US. And the table of eight at El Bulli in matching white linen pyjamas could only have been French ;-)

                        1. re: PhilD

                          "the loafers, chinos and sports coat (often with a Ralph Lauren logo shirt) is the give away for someone from the US."

                          We used to think so, but the so obvious US cliches have been so aggressively adopted by others that these previously reliably pointers are pretty meaningless.

                          That said, as Parigi spotlighted with the water bottle, poor choices are not hard to spot.

                          1. re: mangeur

                            "We used to think so, but the so obvious US cliches have been so aggressively adopted by others that these previously reliably pointers are pretty meaningless". - may be less so than in the past, but still quite reliable. Other nationalities may adopt a similar uniform but they tend to wear it differently.

                            One fun thing to do in Paris is to sit on a café terrace and play guess the nationality, then strain to hear snippets of conversation as a proof point. We found we got it right quite often, and Paris is such great city to play the game because it attracts people from far and wide, and has such great people watching terraces.

                            1. re: mangeur

                              The love affair between French men age 30-60 and the American casual Friday dress described above burns quite hot these days. You have to go by the color of the Polo shirt to figure out who is French. Lime green, pink, purple, orange, yellow = French.

                              Hopefully, this is all pleasing to the waiters at L'Ami Louis. Sounds like a wonderful place.

                  2. re: souphie

                    Agree with Souphie that their chicken is their weakest link in plats. Cotes du Boeuf, mutton, frog's legs, scallops were stellar. Service luckily for me has always been great, same waiter every time. Their wine list is fab and while expensive many fairly priced treasures.

                2. Your chicken pictures do look spectacular, probably not up to Julot's(le roi de poulet) standards but still deliciously moist looking along with the crispy skin.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Laidback

                    L'Ami Louis = rudest service ever for 300 plus euros. I'm secretly hoping that this restaurant is going under and that qli's post is a desperate attempt to attract customers.

                    I'm American and my partner is European. We've travelled to foodie restaurants around the world and we've never been treated so poorly and paid so much money as we did at L'Ami Louis. Even if the food is amazing, the waitstaff ruined the experience (eg, L'Ami Louis has an extensive wine list but they won't help you select a wine!).

                    Thankfully there's a generational change taking place. I'm told that even the Parisians have had enough of this kind of waiter attitude. Maybe if they start losing business they'll wake up to 2011!

                    1. re: edgenyc

                      I agree. At the same time, friendly service is MUCH easier to find than huge quantities of excellent food. Which is why I hope they neitehr go under nor change their food. But it would be fine by me if they turn into nice guys for everybody (as DCM points out, they absolutely know how to do it and sometimes do).

                      And since I never get tired: prices at l'Ami Louis are absolutely fair. If you don't want a whole chicken of five mutton chops, don't go. But prices are very fair given quantity and quality. Much better value than the very looked after bistrots.

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