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May 10, 2014 12:18 PM

L'Ami Louis vs Chez Denise.

If you had to choose L'Ami Louis or Chez Denise, which would you pick and why? just curious.

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  1. Chez Denise because it isn't a tourist trap. Enough said.

    16 Replies
    1. re: Ptipois

      Second that. But Denise ain't exactly pesky-free,.

      1. re: John Talbott

        Most people go to CD to eat, while most people go to LAL to go to LAL. Notable exceptions to this are DCM and Julot who go to both to eat.

          1. re: Ptipois

            Lining up behind Pti's pithy response but adding a few less pithy flourishes.

            In short, L'Ami Louis is a tourist trap for (usually) smug plutocrats... good but hardly great cuisine bourgeoise at haute cuisine prices... waiters who seem to have been trained by Mrs Bucket (Brit TV series Keeping Up Appearances), or so it seems to us French-speakers.

            Chez Denise is full of life... very authentic and very well done trad cuisine at prices that don't make you gag when the final bill is presented.

            1. re: Parnassien

              As with most generalizations, this is or can be quite true. But there are a few humble gourmands who return to LAL for mother's milk, the plates they crave, and somehow oil the wheels of service so that they hum a happy song. (Sorry about this. ;) )

              1. re: mangeur

                Some can indeed... if they can justify the few hundred euros a head for their cravings for the sort of meal that tens of thousands of grandmothers (including my own) do a better job of cooking.

                1. re: Parnassien

                  My bill two weeks ago not counting wine, which is indeed pricey at LAL, for 2 was 207 euros, again not hundreds a head.

                  1. re: Parnassien

                    Absolutely. Having experienced the original model of what a true Parisian bistrot used to be, there is no way I can ever take L'Ami Louis seriously. It is a cynical, ice-cold, jet-set-geared caricature of something that used to be.

                    Chicken is basically good quality but way overdone. Snails are monstrously oversized and the snail butter not very good. The pommes Anna (the "potato galette") tasted of reheated two-days-old potatoes the day I had it. The côte de bœuf is good, but is it worth going through everything else?

                    1. re: Ptipois

                      "caricature of something that used to be."
                      Even in 1968, when I first went and it had already been touted in the NYT.

                      1. re: John Talbott

                        I have a complete petit-bourgeois reasoning with the dining-out experience. If restaurant A is 10 times more expensive than restaurant B, I expect the experience to be 10-times better.
                        Re Chez L'ami Louis, where I have not been in ions, If neither the food nor the service delivers the value, then what is one getting that justifies the price? Do old Louis and the staff, between courses, massage me from the scalp to the toes ?

                        1. re: Parigi

                          Your reasoning is stellar. But most people include intangibles in their decision making. And most time, these make little sense to other people.

                          On the one hand we have Cl'AL and on the other L'AJ. Both serve a great product. Both have attitude. Both are adored by their followers. Both can be seen by some as expensive. And neither is understood by those who don't experience the same plus ultras.

                          1. re: Parigi

                            "Do old Louis and the staff, between courses, massage me from the scalp to the toes ?"

                            You don't want that. Unless he pays you at least the price of 10 of his overdone chickens.

                  2. re: Parnassien

                    Let's see. I will be a tourist, I am a high school librarian so the plutocrat label doesn't fit. As for smug I certainly hope not.

                    100's of thanks for saving me so many euros. I will research other places to replace it.

                    1. re: steveburstein

                      Just don't replace it with the almost equally expensive Coq Rico.
                      The period Daniel Rose was serving coucou de Rennes was special; wonder who else might for Steve?

                2. They're not in the same league price wise. Denise is excellent value, Louis only good value -- and expensive due to high quantity and high quality.

                  It's l'Ami Louis for me -- for the cote de boeuf, the mutton, and the potato galette. I have not experienced a place that does them as well. So this is a pure food play and I'd much rather go for lunch than dinner.

                  Staff at Denise *can* be friendly, but staff at Louis ain't that bad except Monsieur Louis himself, who is a MLAH. One more reason to go for a weekday lunch, when he rarely shows up.

                  Then of course Denise is fun at 1am, when Louis is closed and I've been in bed for many hours.

                  1. As this board knows, they are two on my very short list of fave restaurants here.
                    L'Ami Louis for exactly the reasons Souphie lists.
                    Chez Denise for almost exactly what Souphie lists as well, but there the staff knows me well, l always get the best seats in the place and am very well taken care of service wise.
                    l go to L'Ami Louis twice a trip, but Chez Denise almost weekly.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                      So I should go to L´Ami Louis only if I take DCM with me. I will have to consider that. :-)

                      1. re: steveburstein

                        Will be going again on May 31 with a few friends, please join us.

                        1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                          Thank you for the offer. Unfortunately my wife daughter and I won't be in Paris until the end of June. I hope you have a wonderful dinner or lunch.

                    2. One of the clearest divides yet on CH FR; lay on!

                      1. My review of LAL was intended to be part of my larger review of our ( current) trip to Paris but timely thread so here goes. We went because we had never been, read the contentious reviews, weren't afraid and love a good roast chicken. Arrived exactly on time this past Saturday for 9pm table wearing no jackets to be thrown. Seated in front room at generous 2 top. Wanted to go light on entre prior to legendary chicken. Not so light on wine ( aka Jeremy). Ordered half bottle Mersault which was lovely paired with the generous plate of jambon which we shared. It was more thickly sliced than I've seen since Barcelona which was a good thing and was fine. Did love the grilled bread. Butter not so much. Basic stick of unsalted. While awaiting our chicken ordered a 128€ bottle of Vosne Romanee. As it was being delivered to us an obviously well known , large group entered the room to be sat at the table to the left of the door. Much kissing , chatter and good old times shared. Our bottle of wine was delivered to the table , opened and unceremoniously plonked on the table with no pour, no taste and no way to get waiters attention. That likely colored my ensuing impressions but the chicken ( delivered by another waiter) was nothing to write the farm about, overcooked yet still managed to be greasy and skin in no way crispy. Frites were horribly tasting of old fry oil. I have said here before that I never met a potato I didn't like. That sadly has changed. We gladly pour our own wine anywhere but I presume for a 128€ bottle or for a 20 € bottle for that matter, someone will pour a sip for me to taste to be sure it's not corked. I poured , tasted, pronounced delicious and drank the whole thing in lieu of finishing that bird. Sorry DCM I really wanted to love it but will never return. IMO high price,low quality , old oil and careless ( not churlish) service. Once ....just once, off of my bucket list.

                        18 Replies
                          1. re: Capeannetoo

                            I wonder if we could go back to using names rather than abbreviations that no one I know in town uses.
                            And yes I realize I participated in the tomfoolery about SoPi, NoMa, HiMa and so forth but except for SoPi which Parnassien certifies as genuine the rest are silly.

                            1. re: John Talbott

                              The silliest is Sopi. This resident of that 'hood is the first and the last to tell you.
                              LOL ? Like, laugh aut loud ?

                              1. re: John Talbott

                                What are you saying, John? That you want L'Ami Louis written out? That readers do not recognize L'AJ? What about in context where L'Ami Jean has been discussed ad-whatever?

                                1. re: mangeur

                                  L'AJ is understandable in a thread on the topic; LAL is out of the blue.

                                  1. re: John Talbott

                                    It was on topic in this formerly 2
                                    restaurant related thread. And exactly why infrequent posters like me are infrequent. Rather than a commentary about the review there is criticism for an abbreviation, not unlike JT KGB CH FR.

                                    1. re: Capeannetoo

                                      Sorry, Capeannetoo... Chowhound France is famous for its detours. Some love it, some hate. I find it quite enjoyable and human. Rarely should it be taken personally.

                                      And your report of l'Ami Louis re-confirms my own views of the place. It's a perfect first-hand counterpoint to the hype. And to increase the value of your report, I would also include it in a separate thread about all your dining experiences in Paris. This thread is getting old and tired and probably will not give your report the importance it deserves.

                                      Now I'm wondering who were the "celebrities" whose arrival resulted in your table being ignored. Probably a gaggle of ultra right-wing Front National politicos. Or the woman who does the weather on TV.

                                      1. re: Parnassien

                                        "Chowhound France is famous for its detours."
                                        Detours are great but more downthread.

                                      2. re: Capeannetoo

                                        As the original thread maker I have to heartily disagree. I love that these regulars show their personalities by going off onto divergent topics .Chowhound France is all the better for it.

                                        1. re: steveburstein

                                          I think in order to help new comers, we should write out the restaurant names. Very often I too get lost with the acronyms, lol.
                                          But who o who was criticizing Capeannetoo ? We were criticizing each other and ourselves for using those acronyms.
                                          People get into very mysterious short-hand here, a short-hand that makes no sense. People say they had this or that as "amuse". This usage is neither French nor English.
                                          Already it has caused confusion and mishaps.. Someone went to Le Comptoir, a crappy place in Les Halles, instead of Le Comptoir du Relais. Somebody else ordered foie instead of foie gras and later bitterly complained.
                                          (I am much less sympathetic to people who ask for foie in France or Latte in Italy, expecting to be understood in their charabia.)

                                          1. re: Parigi

                                            Merci Parigi. I have been googling the restaurant Louis - is this different from Chez L'ami Louis?
                                            If so, can you please advise on Louis?

                                            1. re: smilingal

                                              Parigi is on sabbatical but to answer your question they couldn't be more different: Chez L'Ami Louis was hot and classical in the 1960's but now little French is spoken; Louis is contemporary and has all French customers when I've gone.
                                              One man's opine at

                                      3. re: John Talbott

                                        Très bien. je vais ne plus pécher.

                                      4. re: mangeur

                                        Perso, I hate this restaurant acronym thing so common on this board. It's confusing to a lot of newcomers trying to do a search, gives the quite wrong impression that everybody in Paris goes around calling their favourite restaurant by its initials, and re-inforces that elitist in-crowd notion that posters on other sites complain about.

                                        I am constantly aware that for many users of this board Paris is more or a less a mystery. I don't think that frequent posters should deepen the mystery just to save a few keystrokes.

                                        1. re: Parnassien

                                          ":gives the quite wrong impression that everybody in Paris goes around calling their favourite restaurant by its initials, and re-inforces that elitist in-crowd notion."
                                          Right on, if I can return to the 1960's for that phrase.
                                          No one I know in Paris uses these abbreviations or acronyms and I'm as guilty as anyone of tossing in comments I know are only understood by my co-eaters, pals, insiders, "friends" or frequent visitors.
                                          I hate, no I love, to be holier than thou, but/and I think we should walk the walk of transparency.
                                          I'll try to.
                                          John (his signature)

                                        2. re: mangeur

                                          It does makes it harder when the initialisation doesn't use the correct initials: the restaurant is Chez L'Ami Jean, often written as CLJ.

                                          Maybe we should agree initials are OK in an existing thread as it was pretty clear Capeannanto which restaurant was referenced.

                                          1. re: PhilD

                                            No, no. Now we need a detour to discuss the proper rendering of French names into acronyms, whether or not articles should be capitalized, and whether or not they should be included in the acronym!

                                            1. re: yakionigiri

                                              And whether "chez" is even really part of the name…