Refelections on Paris dining, January. 2012...Chez L'Ami Jean lunch
We arrived at Chez L’Ami Jean with great anticipation as we had enjoyed all of our previous meals there. We decided on lunch based on several CH reviews, and once we took a look at the menu we knew that we were going for the chef’s choice full on menu. Bring it!
We were the first to arrive and settled in for an aperitif of a nice dry white wine while we watched the staff get their orders from the chef. In minutes the place filled up and we were off…
We started with a bowl of crispy bacon bits and some kind of pink ribbony things, over which a creamy orange soupe de poitron was poured. The pink ribbony things turned out to be turnip skin. Who knew? The crunchy flavors of the bacon and turnip were perfectly matched with the creamy soup…throughout the meal we were in detective mode, trying to figure out the hidden flavors. I love that kind of mystery.
Next up was saumon mini-cuit with sesame, and we think some pureed rutabagas? Again, the dish was full of some delicious spices that we couldn’t quite name, but all was yummy.
At the start of the meal we had ordered a wine…not knowing what we were going to get to eat, we left it in the hands of our server, who recommended a southwest vintage that I can’t for the life of me remember, which is a shame because it was just right with our meal.
OK, on to the next round. St Jacques with some oyster deliciousness (concasse) and Indian-like spices. Just Wow.
Then came what we named CLJ’s version of surf and turf. Tender beef in a delicious gravy with carrots topped by a perfectly cooked piece of cod. Again, what IS that spice? Could it be really be cocoa? Whatever it was we ate every last bit and laughed at the beef and cod combination. We loved it
At some point during the marathon, the space next to us was taken by two women from our neck of the woods. They were friendly and we chatted just enough, although one of the women was saying that she couldn’t possibly learn any French and complaining about all of the food you get in France and how she didn’t like so many things…then she ordered some kind of meat cooked well done and I thought oh no! Sorry, but even this former vegetarian knows that overcooking is a sin. My husband and I exchanged glances.
I mention that because our next course made my husband swoon and our neighbors squirm…wood pigeon, head and feet proudly displayed, cooked just like we like it, a nice bloody pink. So delicious…with a slab of foie gras and ecrassee de pommes. THIS is why we come to Paris. It was just perfect. Game bird HEAVEN, and with that perfectly cooked slab of foie gras - it was over the top. Of course our neighbors were freaked out and one was making a face and saying oh no, which, and please don’t judge, prompted my husband to wave his plate in her direction and ask if they would like a bite. (He is always trying to get people to get over their food fears. So he was only being a bit ornery)
OK, back to the food. We were of course feeling totally stuffed and what should arrive after an appropriate length of time? Yes, the rice pudding of CH fame. I personally LOVED it and wished I had some room to eat more than I did. That light creamy pudding with caramel sauce…oh my. I don’t know why we hadn’t ordered it before…but we will again. Coffee and more sweets followed. Sigh…(Our neighbors also got the rice pudding, which they hardly touched and then asked to have put in a doggie bag. Didn’t feel so bad about the pigeon. The server was beyond gracious)
I know that Chez L’Ami Jean already gets lots of love on this board and that there are many other places in Paris to have a fabulous meal. But we love the casualness and hustle bustle of the place. The service is just right too. At about 100 e per person (with a nice bottle of wine and 2 extra glasses of nice wine, coffees and bottled water), it was pricey, but then again we went all out and it was worth it to us. Overall, I think it deserves the love, and we look forward to returning. Hopefully we’ll time it right, ParisJo!
thanks Parigi. Actually, the neighbor was probably thinking the latter, but seemed to be rendered speechless after the sight of hubby spooning a bite out of the pigeon's head and having a taste (his general motto being if it's on my plate I'm going for it) He deemed it rather tasty, fwiw...
Ah, sis, you are making me swoon with delight (and a little envy, lol). Yes, we will have to time our trips at one point (or at least time a trip in Montreal!).
Your husband has the same motto as I do ~ if it's on the menu or on my plate, it's meant to be eaten. I don't over think it, I just enjoy it.
Thanks for sharing this one!
Jo (grandma for the 2nd time today!!)
Felicitations! I recall that you recently lamented that Cl'AJ was not appropriate for an 8 year old. On the contrary...
I have visited Ami Jean several times, never with or as a friend of the house. Most recently we were seated in the window at a comparatively huge table for four, well away from the bar and, sadly for me, well away from the kitchen scene. In fact, I wouldn't be able to pick out Jego from a line up of 4 if three of them were kangaroos. So..as my husband would ask, your point?
At none of my visits would it be uncomfortable for an 8 year old, from the point of view of the child, the house or parent.
Thanks Mangeur. That is very encouraging.........My only worries are annoying other diners who may not be expecting kids at their neighbouring tables. Seb is a very all behaved child and if the house is accommodating with a table a little more removed from the hustle and bustle, then we may make a return visit in May. This thought just made my day.
Just dined on the pigeon as well. Not for the faint of heart and perfectly divine. Also recommend Spring and its lower wine cave to start, Avant Comptoir for crepes and savory waffles, Willi's Wine Bar, Frenchies, and Bistro Paul Bert! We also took a day trip to Venice and dined at Venissa, perfectly spectacular!! 30AEATS-