Paris, three lunches, in brief.
as we all know, one meal sample sizes are only that. our company at Septime made the meal delightful. the food was quite good, but hard to say if the cooking surpasses some of our other Paris meals. service however, was in the style we prefer the most, informative, straightforward, positive, and the value was exceptional. the two excellent bottles of whites totalled 36€', and the three course lunch formula with a few choices for each was a flat out bargain -- we'd never expect to find a meal like it in calif for $40 incl. tip.
to appreciate Chez l'Ami Jean, more than one meal is probably requisite; for a bistrot of it size the choices on the lunch menu are very extensive. the chef uses very bold combinations in some of the dishes, and his choices probably aren't aimed to please all. we enjoyed his terrine de compagne that was larded with chunks of cooked foie, but the lovely large tasting portion of seared foie gras he gave us at the request of the charming 'hounds seated next to the kitchen was just too close to raw for our palates. there was a seafood element, anchovy would be my guess, in my partner's veal cheeks, that to my taste needed just a shade of tempering or blending to be a touch less obtrusive. again, the choices are so many and the gifts of the chef are unmistakeable, so repeat visits are called for to find what one best likes. if we should be so lucky to return to what has become our favorite city.
after walking for hours through rain on the following day, we took refuge in the Italian-themed place on the first floor of le Grand Epicerie. for 50€ we really enjoyed the restorative benefits of a grilled chevre salad(the cheese atop grilled veg, a small raw veg salad next to it) and a big bowl of fresh tagliatelle w. leeks and mild,crumbled sausage, with a demi pichet of simple plonk, a Montepulciano.
That foie gras was our table's fave.
I am outing us. We were the hounds by the kitchen, practically sitting on each other's lap à la Marx Bros. We had a fantastic time. We agreed the meal was great even for Jégo's standard. We were probably the kind of boisterious diners that are many hounds' worst nightmare.
But not our French neighbors' worst nightmare, or nightmare. They adopted Deluccacheesemonger - they always do - and taught him food slang.
My seat was closer to the kitchen than to, say, the other end of our small table. It is our fave table, our usual table. We love to take in the kitchen action up close. I understand that is not for everybody.
While Jégo broke my ear drum as usual, I carefully kept my hair out of the dishes on the kitchen door counter. The waitstaff had to molest me every time they went to get forks and knives from the slots under that door-counter.
The foie gras was seared on the outside. The caramelized fragrance hit us all and smelled … like hot maple syrup, LOL. It was crunchy, slightly burned, caramelized outside, and melting soft mi-cuit inside. And oh it was stuffed with a little confit. All sounds like death-by-foie-gras, right?
Wrong. All 5 of us agreed it was the lightest foie gras we have ever tasted.
Our very generous DCM piped up and asked Jégo for a little dish so that he could give a taste to Moto and Madame at the other end of the resto, a little bite of the ethereal foie gras that he had saved on his own plate.
I will never let DCM do that again. Next time I will tackle Mario and intercept the foie gras and pop it in my mouth. Generous schmenerous.
And the even more generous Jégo said: "je m'en occupe." Instead of giving DCM a dish, he comped Moto and cut a little piece of foie gras which he had Mario bring to his table.
I will never let Jégo do that again. Next time I will tackle Mario and intercept the foie gras and pop it in my mouth. Generous schmenerous.
And while we're talking about next time…
if you run into us chez l'Ami Jean, dear hounds, please tell us if you don't like foie gras mi-cuit, so that the chef, who did not comp us (nor should he) does not comp you by tragic mistake.
Jet-lagged hound checking in to say that I too was fortunate to have had a seat at the above-mentioned hound table. Before I go on I want to come clean to say that yes, I am part of the Chez L'Ami Jean CH fanclub, but only because I have enjoyed the half-dozen meals I have had at CLJ over the course of the past 6 years or so. I enjoy the hustle bustle, I like the casual, relaxed atmosphere, and the noise, and the cramped tables and the shared pate and the big bowl of that wonderful rice pudding. It's just the kind of place I love.
But, that said, I can be critical. There was one meal a few years ago that was good but had some flaws and made me wonder if I should keep returning. And this trip I was disappointed by one of my other faves and I won't go back (review to follow when I am a little more rested).
All that to codify my following response to the OP's post. I truly can't imagine that any food lovin hound would not think that the foie gras dish that Parigi so eloquently described above was anything but heaven on a plate. It. was. that. good. Sigh-invoking magically good. The best foie gras dish I have ever tasted (and I am glad I don't live in CA because I eat foie gras whenever it''s on the menu).
But, ok, to those who would point out that we all have different tastes and that I'm being too hard on the op, point taken. But, if I were to have been gifted a tasting of something as special as that foie gras,and I didn't like it, well, I think I might just have thanked the hounds and the chef and moved on. It's like I would never announce to the world that I really hated that blouse that my mother-in-law gave me. But that's just me. Oh, and Parigi, girl I would fight you for that tasty morsel (I'll let you tackle Mario though). Just sayin...
I promise to report back on that meal and the others that we enjoyed in Paris and Burgundy because I have lots of people to thank (Parigi, LaTulipe, Mangeur, John Talbott, Chef June and others, I'm talking about you.) I just wanted to defend the foie, as it was worthy of high praise...
the original post was written with a limited time budget, and it would be remiss not to mention that the service at Chez l'Ami Jean was as close to perfect as one might find here in the realm of the mortals, and definitely one of the reasons we'd happily return.