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Questions on eating at Chez L'Ami Jean

k
kat888 Jan 5, 2013 03:23 PM

Hi, all,

I am so excited to be going back to CAJ soon! Thanks again to the CH community for that recommendation.

I had a few questions about eating there:

(1) Every time we've been there, we've gotten the whole lobe of foie gras, though it's been prepared different ways each time. And then the cote du beouf, and then the rice pudding. For those of you who are regulars there, what are your favorite dishes? I feel like I should branch out!

(2) Is it possible to bring a bottle of wine? I'm not sure I want to (I think their list was good), but we'll be traveling through Burgundy and Champagne, and if we see something that is just too hard to find back home, it would be fun to buy it and drink it while in France. Would be happy to pay corkage, but not sure if that is even a typical concept in Paris.

(3) And what about taking away leftovers? I know it's not typical. But the servings at CAJ are big. Plus we are flying out the next day, and I usually like to bring my own food onto airplanes. Face it, leftovers would be a million times better than anything on an airplane! My sister-in-law is in the habit of bringing her own containers to restaurants when there's a chance there will be leftovers to be more 'green,' and I've started traveling with some. So I could bring containers. My husband used to work in a restaurant, and he hates asking for anything that would flag us as that difficult table, but I wasn't sure if this really is such a big deal.

Thanks for any advice you have to offer,

-k

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  1. pikawicca RE: kat888 Jan 5, 2013 03:34 PM

    Do NOT ask for take-away, or bring your own containers. I wouldn't do this at any restaurant in Europe.

    2 Replies
    1. re: pikawicca
      l
      lagatta RE: pikawicca Jan 5, 2013 03:43 PM

      Nowadays, there are some very casual places (usually little "ethnic" holes-in-the-wall) where they will even suggest takeaway. I can't imagine taking a good bottle of wine or liquor except for one specific exception (friends have done this) - it is a casual place and you know the owner well. You are sharing it, as a sort of present.

      1. re: pikawicca
        k
        kat888 RE: pikawicca Jan 5, 2013 03:47 PM

        LOL. I imagined that reaction. Maybe I should add that I can speak some basic French, and that we travel to Europe quite often (my husband's in the wine biz). But it just doesn't make sense to me to waste such delicious food. I guess I was wondering that even though it's not typically done, would it really put people off to ask? I suppose you're saying, well, yes.

      2. mangeur RE: kat888 Jan 5, 2013 04:04 PM

        While all of the previous posts are absolutely correct, I will add that I never leave the hotel without several 1Qt ziploc freezer bags rolled up in my handbag. I just can't get through an 8 ounce portion of protein. And rather than send it back to the kitchen, I just drop it in the bag in my lap while smiling and chatting with my husband and, voila, problem of excess protein and tomorrow lunch or snack solved. Perhaps your first attempt will not be seamless, but with only a little practice, no one, I repeat, no one will ever notice. In fact, my husband will often chide me for scarfing my meal, not having seen me pocket a major chunk.

        1. p
          Ptipois RE: kat888 Jan 5, 2013 04:14 PM

          Simple and clear answers to 2 and 3:

          2) No.

          3) Yes, absolutely. Do not hesitate to ask for the leftovers to take home, especially at Chez L'Ami Jean, where they have plastic containers and printed paper bags especially for the purpose.
          Taking leftovers home is far more common in France than one usually thinks. It is very seldom refused. It's just that many people do not dare to ask.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Ptipois
            k
            kat888 RE: Ptipois Jan 5, 2013 04:49 PM

            Thanks for the tips! And do let me know if you have favorite dishes there.

            mangeur, your reply made me laugh - I will have to try that in situations I feel uncomfortable to ask to take away.

            1. re: kat888
              mangeur RE: kat888 Jan 5, 2013 04:53 PM

              I hoped it would. We sometimes, as Pti suggests, need to lighten up in dining situations.

          2. forestcollins RE: kat888 Jan 5, 2013 05:19 PM

            I'm with ptpois on this one. Sure, no one normally asks for doggie bags because they think they 'shouldn't' But, really I'm a bit over that. I bought my dinner, don't want to see it go in the trash and, i hate wasting food, so I'll happily take it home and eat the rest later. And I think visitors sometimes get too wrapped up in what one should and shouldn't do. But, i feel like if you're a nice person and just ask nicely, they'll happily wrap stuff up for you. i don't ask often - mostly because my other half will clean my plate before I get a chance. But, really, take home/not take home is not the biggest issue on a vacation. (although I do appreciate those trying to 'do as the locals' - although sometimes us 'locals' don't know what we're doing) Just be nice, ask for what you want - and if they don't do it, not the end of the world. But I'm sure they will there - in fact last time I ate there, which was admittedly ages ago, the chef came out and yelled at us for sending too much food back on our plate uneaten. So, he might have been happier if we had just asked him to wrap up that huge pile of meat and foie to go. :)

            5 Replies
            1. re: forestcollins
              PhilD RE: forestcollins Jan 5, 2013 05:48 PM

              But what do you do with cold leftovers in a small hotel room on on a plane flying home? I can understand doing this if you live in Paris and have a kitchen to reheat food etc but most Paris hotel rooms don't even have a bar fridge to keep things cold.

              1. re: PhilD
                forestcollins RE: PhilD Jan 5, 2013 06:01 PM

                Phil: i completely get that...i've had to leave leftovers many times because of that...staying somewhere and the food was great, but I'm not going to bring a smelly doggie bag back to my hotel room where I can't really reheat or re-eat later. However, if i have the capability to do something with it (which just happened earlier this week in Vienna - had boiled meet and we all took it back and made a delish hash in the morning for breakfast...because we were in an apartment) But, i felt like the question was whether or not they could ask for leftovers to go...and not what they should/could do with them after (which presumably the OP knows what they're doing?), so I just answered in that vein. Sorry...i know you guys are much more active here and I'm usually a quiet watcher so i'll go back to watching. ;)

                1. re: PhilD
                  k
                  kat888 RE: PhilD Jan 5, 2013 06:14 PM

                  Enthusiastic we may be, but my husband and I can't come close to polishing off a lobe of foie gras between the two of us. Last time we were at CAJ, we shared all our courses with our neighbors, which made for great fun. Seems like we avoided a scolding from the chef as well.

                  As for what to do with leftovers, most hotels we've stayed in do have a mini-fridge. But, yes, there is no way of heating, though I have tried a sort of sous vide method of heating, in desperate times, if a coffee maker is available. Usually I don't bother. But if we're going to be in a car on a highway or airplane the next day, room temp food is still typically better than what is available. Just depends on the item. (i.e. pate, yes, foie gras, unfortunately, no.)

                  1. re: PhilD
                    mangeur RE: PhilD Jan 5, 2013 06:55 PM

                    You've never had cold steak or foie gras at a picnic? Or cold chicken? Or gnawed a lamb chop? What on earth do you take on a picnic, then? I will cheerfully sit at the table in our hotel room confronting any of the above, add a glass of gaspacho (from Monoprix or Big Bon), a chunk of baguette and call it quite good. A glass or so of wine is not out of place.

                    1. re: mangeur
                      PhilD RE: mangeur Jan 6, 2013 03:26 PM

                      Mangeur - of course I have, but generally prepared for that purpose rather than leftovers.

                      CLJ obviously does this, and it does have huge portions, but is it really common elsewhere? (and is Jego cleverly playing to his audience here - it's very Anglo ESP in the evenings).

                      I generally find portion size in France to be pretty good with enough on the plate to satisfy but not too much to over face. So leftovers are pretty rare.

                      I also find the idea of diners filling up take-away containers from the "communal" dishes quite sad, it really misses the point of the tradition. Again I understand CLJ's rice pudding is no longer the communal dish it once was (it's got smaller) as they face up to the reality of diners ordering one and thinking it was OK to share it "because it was a large portion".

                      Next we will see people hoovering up the leftover terrine - maybe just take some glad wrap and you don't even need to take it from the pot. Another good tip is to slip the extra bread into a plastic shopping bag - there is always some left in the basket before they clear it away - or slip in a few piece every few minutes so they keep filling it up.

                2. John Talbott RE: kat888 Jan 6, 2013 01:13 AM

                  "leftovers"
                  Like others I carry ziploc's and bigger sacks (for Monoprix) but I do believe attitudes have changed 180⁰ (I attribute it to the 1991 Loi Evin when they started encouraging people to doggie-bag the wine left instead of polishing it off and driving tipsy). As others have said I use bags for dry stuff but take plastic containers or aluminum when offered for juicy stuff. And I find, and maybe it's because of where I eat and my look of decrepitude, wrapping is routinely accepted. This and being offered seats on the Metro are the only good things about getting old.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: John Talbott
                    p
                    Ptipois RE: John Talbott Jan 6, 2013 05:24 AM

                    The only place in France I've ever been grumbled at for asking for leftovers to take home was Chez L'Ami Louis (my one and only experience there).

                    And I'm positive that they did it just for the sake of grumbling. ("We're a restaurant, not a grocery store!"). Which I found rather rich considering the price and size of portions — Hey buster, I paid for the whole damn chicken, so it's MY chicken you're about to take back to the kitchen. Deal with that.

                    (And they did pack it for me anyway.)

                    1. re: Ptipois
                      k
                      kat888 RE: Ptipois Jan 6, 2013 07:49 AM

                      I remember eating at Chez L'Ami Louis: I ordered the quail, thinking it'd be the smallest dish. The quail was the largest I had ever seen. I finished most of it was was feeling pretty good about my progress, when... (and you probably already know the punch line)... they brought out a second one.

                      That place reminded me of Peter Luger, an old time steakhouse in NY. At both places, the waiters are grumpy and all have clearly been there as long as the decor. It's part of the charm or price of eating there, depending on your point of view.

                    2. re: John Talbott
                      l
                      lagatta RE: John Talbott Jan 6, 2013 06:01 AM

                      La carte senior (autrefois, la carte vermeil) as well. Lots of those benefits start from 60 in France...

                      John, you look distinguished, not decrepit!

                    3. Parigi RE: kat888 Jan 6, 2013 01:36 AM

                      Once I could not finish a big piece of foie gras chez l'Ami Jean. I asked Mario in a whispering plea whether I could have it as takeaway, which he happily complied.
                      Well, that is my experience chez l'Ami Jean, (1) where I go often, (2) whose staff I know well by now, and (3) I know Stéphane Jégo is tickled pink to see people appreciate his food.
                      I do not have the habit of asking for what my French gf calls a Baggie Dog in other restos in France.
                      My advice - talking about chez l'Ami Jean only - would be: make the request discreet, and limit your takeaways to takeaway-friendly items like a piece of foie gras. I would not ask Mario to bag every little scrap of leftover of a dégustation menu.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Parigi
                        p
                        Ptipois RE: Parigi Jan 6, 2013 05:28 AM

                        Parigi, as I wrote above, they DO have plastic containers to take away the leftovers. They have them ready just for that purpose. With the specially-designed paper bags with handles. They know the size of their portions and that some people can't deal with them. So it's part of their modus operandi to give doggie bags.
                        More than once, when I could not finish something, they proposed to pack it and bag it so I could finish it at home.
                        And I am sure that any customer that is not familiar with the place would get the same treatment as long as he'd dare to ask.

                        (Which does not mean, of course, that everybody should start doing it. It is clearly a nice little gesture they do towards their customers and the right thing do to in that case is not to overdo it.)

                      2. sistereurope RE: kat888 Jan 6, 2013 08:48 AM

                        I'd just like to add a story about CLJ: We were there once and the women at the table next to us asked to take the remainder of the rice pudding home. They had barely touched it. Mario kindly gave them a container, which they filled to the brim with the pudding and all the toppings, crowing about how awesome it would be for breakfast.
                        The moral of the story? I would NEVER do that, but asking discreetly to take home the foie gras is a different story. And as my tale demonstrates, they are most accommodating, even to requests that I consider a bit over the top...

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: sistereurope
                          John Talbott RE: sistereurope Jan 6, 2013 09:05 AM

                          "asked to take the remainder of the rice pudding home."
                          How about this for taking home gaucheries/betises?
                          Colette and I ate a couple of times at L'Ebouchoir in the 12th when it first opened eons ago and she finally decided that the only thing she really loved was the rice pudding.
                          So every once in a while when nearby we take a tupperware container, I go in at the end of service and grovel and they fill it with rice pudding and then we schlep it home. Now granted L'Ebouchoir doesn't have the snobitude of L'Ami Louis but they always react between amazed and amused.

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