Chez L'Ami Jean
We lobbed for our 1.30pm appointment for lunch at L’Ami Jean, famished after a morning of putting plenty of kilometres into our legs around the streets of Paris. Friends from Adelaide were already seated and we caught up on their recent travels over a bottle of Drappier Brut Nature. This was a delicious zero dosage Champagne that smelt of summer berries and Parisian Boulangeries. It was dry and precise in the mouth with plenty of saline minerality and a suggestion of freshly pounded juniper berry.
Service was brusque but friendly enough in a half not so friendly way and we ordered our food in rather a hurry as one of the waiting staff seemed to feel the need to push us along. My entrée of some rare species of fish, that I forget the name of but it was very much like Salmon, was incredibly good. It was coated with a thin layer of a very savoury, pepper-laden sauce and was cooked perfectly and had a feel to it as if it had been prepared confit. It lay on a bed of various fruits and was bright and energetic. Heidi was presented with a huge slab of the terrine de maison that she dutifully shared with the four of us, simply soul satisfying.
We ordered a Marcel Lapierre MMIX to accompany mains and it was voluptuous, generous, open-knit and succulent straight from the word go. There’s an engaging waft of purple flowers as well as crushed leaves that counter the squishy cherry and plum fruits. It is intense and supple with sweet tannins and a kiss of minerally acidity to the finish. Our main course of Guinea fowl was cooked to perfection, as the breast meat maintained moisture and tenderness. The chef must have though that such lean protein needed some fat to counter and sandwiched the bird between grilled entier of Foie and a slab of belly pork. The meaty reduction accompanying was sticky and delicious and there were also some peas and a lovely crunchy strip of pancetta. The side bowl of creamy mashed potato went straight from mouth to heart and we could feel it wrapping around our collective aortas.
We were debating whether to have dessert when our waiter boldly set up four places and plonked a huge bowl of their famous rice pudding on the table, decision made, we’re having dessert. Now I have never been a huge rice pudding fan but this thing is the bomb. A creamy pudding is laced with vanilla and drizzled with honey. A pot of salty caramel, a pot of fruits and some candied nuts are served alongside and the combination is wickedly good. We had a little glass of Jurancon that worked really well.
The food here is seriously good. It is not tricksy but there’s a modern, fresh twist to the dishes. Everything is made from the ground up and the freshest of ingredients are used. It is a small, crowded, bustling place but a lot of fun.