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L'Ami Jean, Paris 7e


pierre45
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L'ami jean,27 rue malar (7).01 47 o5 86 89

I had been at this rest early this year,when this basque rest got a new chef.At the time i was not very impressed,however recently a lot of interest was beeing shown by people that i met ,so i thought it was time to revisit.

I went last night for dinner.On a tue night The space was packed.THe noise was shattering with people laughing and obviousely having a good time.I sat next to 4 brits and a japanese couple. 80% of the patrons were tourists.

I started with fricasse de cepes,which was mushy and sandy.i guess they forgot to clean the mushrooms.my main was roasted partridge with side dishes of mushroom and mashed potatoes.it was quite tasty.I drank irouleguy,red wine from the basque region.Quite decent howewer.Service was very harried.

I could not wait to get out.So i went to see the manager and paid her directly.

I can see why this place seems to appeal to tourists.The place is cute,the noise gives them a feeling of liveliness and the food is different .The cost about 40E without wine is manageable.

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Interesting what a different experience I had at Chez l'ami Jean when I was there last year. My wife and I arrived for a somewhat late lunch (~1:00) so the restaurant was relatively calm and we were the only tourists that I could discern. Food was excellent, highlighted by piquillo peppers stuffed with cod brandade and pig's feet andouillette. Service was indifferent, but the chef did come out and talk to us briefly.

Most women don't seem to know how much flour to use so it gets so thick you have to chop it off the plate with a knife and it tastes like wallpaper paste....Just why cream sauce is bitched up so often is an all-time mytery to me, because it's so easy to make and can be used as the basis for such a variety of really delicious food.

- Victor Bergeron, Trader Vic's Book of Food & Drink, 1946

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Interesting what a different experience I had at Chez l'ami Jean when I was there last year.  My wife and I arrived for a somewhat late lunch (~1:00) so the restaurant was relatively calm and we were the only tourists that I could discern.  Food was excellent, highlighted by piquillo peppers stuffed with cod brandade and pig's feet andouillette.  Service was indifferent, but the chef did come out and talk to us briefly.

That was the old regime,where basque food prevailed.

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As I may have noted elsewhere, I haven't been there, but a French born professional chef and his food professional wife reported that they enjoyed dinner there without going into too much detail. His standards for bistro cooking may be different than the ones he applies to his own haute cuisine cooking, but he's intolerant of sloppy cooking or poorly conceived dishes at any level.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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I can see why this place seems to appeal to tourists.The place is cute,the noise gives them a feeling of liveliness and the food is different .

Well, again, I'm the dissenter. I've been there twice and cannot figure out what the fuss is all about; it's not disgraceful food but it's not terrific either. For me the service was OK, level of noise fine but food without redeeming qualities.

John Talbott

blog John Talbott's Paris

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Well, again, I'm the dissenter.  I've been there twice and cannot figure out what the fuss is all about; it's not disgraceful food but it's not terrific either.  For me the service was OK, level of noise fine but food without redeeming qualities.

I agree with you and i was trying to explain as to why it seems to appeal to tourists.To me its a place with no merit whatsover and that's why I wanted to get out as soon as possible.

Actually one could start a thread about what appeals to the average tourist versus locals.I have had numerous experiences with visitors who loved tourist restaurants that you see along the blvds and when taken to what i consider a worthy parisian restaurant they were unhappy.THe food there was too different from what they are used to ,while they can have for instance a steak and frites at a tourist spot.I want to emphasize that not all visitors fall in this category but there are enough to keep l'ami jean hopping.

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Benoit is a place I'd put in that category after our meal, which wasn't bad, just uneven, but very overpriced although the gentle and patient way they had with tourists may well make the premium worthwhile for those who need excessive guidance and reassurance.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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Benoit is a place I'd put in that category after our meal, which wasn't bad, just uneven, but very overpriced although the gentle and patient way they had with tourists may well make the premium worthwhile for those who need excessive guidance and reassurance.

The following is a post I did on BP last April:

1st visit to L'Ami Jean since the ex Regalade chef took control. The decor is unchanged, still on the dark, unprepossesing side. Good things: friendly,helpful service; a €28 menu; excellent whole wheat bread from the neighboring Poujauran Bakery, served with a little pot of fromage blanc sprinkled with ciboulettes and espellette pepper; a decent bottle of Madiran for €18; a wonderful bouillon de legumes, a clear beef broth full of lightly cooked fresh vegetables(a whole tureen left on the table); the Basque specialty, Axoa, a veal stew with Tomato based sauce, green and espelette peppers served with a little pot of mashed potatos; a dessert called crémeux de citron jaune, noix et pistache en nougatine. Bad things: canette roti entiere...I expected a whole roast duckling, but it meant the duckling was roasted whole then cut up, probably my mistake in interpretation, but I received a small leg and thigh that was so tough I literally could not cut it up, the flavor was good and "ducky", but hard to deliver from bone to mouth. The only other negative was the gateau Basque, which supposedly also comes from Poujauran, but this one must have come last week, cold and dried up like it had become intimate with the inside of their frigo for several days, not nearly as good as I had at Mellifère a few days ago.All in all the good outweighed the bad and I will probably go back for another try.

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I agree with you and i was trying to explain as to why it seems to appeal to tourists.To me its a place with no merit whatsover and that's why I wanted to get out as soon as possible.

Actually one could start a thread about what appeals to the average tourist versus locals.

pierre45, I remember having dinner at l'Ami Jean less than a year ago, and the place was packed with locals. The chef was the same, then, the ex Regalade Stephane Jego, and we had some great time. Most of my friends who I've sent there never told me they had a bad experience. I'll go back, and report ASAP.

"Mais moi non plus, j'ai pas faim! En v'là, une excuse!..."

(Jean-Pierre Marielle)

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  • 3 weeks later...

Dinner at L'Ami Jean the first week of October. I would not characterize the menu as "tourist-friendly." Yes, crowded and noisy, but almost entirely because of the huge crowd of French-speaking 30-somethings waiting in the bar area to get in (and smoking up a storm).

I was thrilled to see the long list of game dishes available in addition to the Basque specialties and had pretty much settled on chevreuil until I learned what axoa was and decided to try it. Another of our group had canard sauvage and loved it. Can't recall the meal in any more detail, but all six of us thought it was very good and I'll definitely go back.

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  • 2 years later...

These two restaurants are far from new and are both repeats for me. I went to Chez l'Ami Jean a couple of years back, at the time of transition of owners and the decor hasn't changed to speak of, cramped for space, a swarm of customers elbow to elbow, but the menu seems to feature less Basque than before, still a few Irouleguy wines, but no Axoa and the encornet/chipirons/calamar dishes were devoid of espelette, although there remains a jar of espelette powder on the table. Undoubtedly it is me but I can't see what all the buzz is about this spot. We invited two Parisiennes and their St. Pierre entier was undercooked to the point that you could not remove the flesh from the bone without some effort, which they did not exert because they don't care for, nor did they order it bleue. The Ray was very nicely done but none of the three fish dishes came with the least bit of garniture. We ordered Boudin Noir(Camdeborde) but it was not available. My entrée of encornets was bland but my main of veal kidney was delicious and cooked pink just as I asked. The bread was a good, hearty pain de compagne and the coffee was O.K. Am I in a hurry to go back? Not while Au Bascou is available.

La Fontaine de Mars has just reopened with considerably more space and still has the same smiling patronne, Christianne Boudon, same maitre d' and wait staff. The decor is fresher but the theme is unchanged...tile floors, varnished woodwork and huge red and white checkered napkins same as the tablecloths. This has never been a place for haute cuisine, but radiates a pleasant atmosphere and serves the same old classics; supréme de poulet fermier in cream sauce with morilles,

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a decent size Belle Sole Meuniere served with mashed potatos,

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boudin blanc with stewed apples, and my entrée today, blanc de poireaux,

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Pat's entrée was a fresh nougat de chevre

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There is jambon, thinly sliced before your eyes, with melon

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and always a special of the day. I like their version of Ile Flottante because of the caramel effect

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And their dessert special this day was those sweet little fraises de bois served plain with creme fraiche on the side

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Edited by Laidback (log)
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  • 1 year later...

Does anyone know if l'ami jean is open now or closed for the holidays?

Despite the mixed reviews, I really enjoyed my last meal there and want to go back...but I'm getting a fax on both their fax and phone numbers when I call to reserve and am not going to treck all the way over there to make a reservation if they are actually closed. Thanks!

52 martinis blog

@52martinis

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I didn't realize there was a dedicated thread for this restaurant, so for the sake of any future eG'ers doing a search, I'll add my thoughts from a meal in late March of this year. It was a decidedly un-mixed reaction from the four of us -- we loved it. My write-up is below and the pictures can be seen here.

Chez l'Ami Jean

At popular chain restaurants in the US, the wait for a table can be nerve-racking. The little light-up coaster the hostess has given you may vibrate wildly any minute now. Your raspberry martini is not safe. And I know this was the first time we’d had to wait for a table in France, but the only thing the hostess at Chez L’Ami Jean handed us was a wooden board full of charcuterie. It comes as no surprise which of the two aforementioned countries has lower crime rates, higher voter turnout, lower cholesterol, and a higher life expectancy.

It was 9:30 or so on a Wednesday night, and Chez L’Ami Jean was a madhouse. The kind of madhouse with several pork legs hanging from the ceiling. My kind of madhouse. I munched on some saucisson sec as they told us several times that the wait would be just a few more minutes. With cured pork in my hands, I am a patient man.

Of course, it was about 700° (Celsius, naturally) in the room and there was barely any space to stand, much less to sit. So after we cleaned up the charcuterie board I dashed outside to lose a few layers of clothing. I came back in to find the place no less crowded. Like first graders hovering around the kid at school whose mom packed him homemade cookies for lunch, we had all jammed ourselves into this hot, raucous restaurant just for a taste of Stéphane Jégo’s cooking. I noticed I wasn’t the only one who stared longingly at the dishes that passed by and closed my eyes to take in their aromas. We all seemed to be captivated.

We finally sat down at a tiny cozy four-top along the wall. There were a few daily specials on the nearby chalkboard in addition to the 3-course fixed price menu for 32€, and some of them were too good to pass up (so I’ll list the a la carte prices below). There was also a carte blanche menu for 60€. Next time I am all over that. In any case, we ordered and then snacked on some bread and a dip of cottage cheese, chives and Espelette pepper. Actually the dip was pretty terrible, so we really just snacked on the bread.

It wasn’t long before our entrées arrived, and the first they set down was the Asperges blanche vinaigrette tiede d’herbes maraîchers (17€). Steamed white asparagus came dressed with a warm herb vinaigrette, topped with crispy carrot and beet chips and a thin slice of ham for good measure. The asparagus were fork-tender but not at all mushy, and the refreshing vinaigrette was a nice reminder that this was early spring on a plate, even if the temperature outside suggested otherwise.

A friend of ours ordered the Emulsion de petit pois et asperge, croûtons, ciboulettes et lards, a vibrant green pea and asparagus soup with tiny crispy croûtons, chives and bacon. They brought her not just a cup or a bowl, but the whole tureen. Enough for each of us to have a bowlful and then some. It was thick, velvety, and really tasty. So much so that we seem to have forgotten to snap a photo. Oops.

Certainly the winner among the first courses was the Confit de pomme grenaille au beurre, crème d’ail et escargot de Bourgogne. Ridiculously buttery potatoes with a beautiful bright green parsley and garlic cream, tender snails and spicy chorizo. Oh, and a crispy slice of ham. (Basically everything here is garnished with pork.) Offering my personal analysis with all the wisdom of a five-year-old, I declared this “the best potato-parsley combo ever.” That basically sums it up, I think. Really delicious.

They had unfortunately just run out of the morel-stuffed chicken breast we had seen at a several other tables, so instead our friend got the Fricassé de poulet de ferme “cuisse” crèmé servi en cocotte de tradition. Stewed chicken leg served in a cream sauce and topped with carrots, onions and snap peas. And if that wasn’t enough, on a second plate they served her another huge piece of roasted chicken au jus, garnished with (you guessed it) two strips of crispy ham. The chicken in both cases was cooked well and it was very moist. She seemed to prefer the cream sauce-and-vegetable presentation to the one served with the pan juices. But I think we were all lamenting the unavailability of the morel-stuffed chicken. I say “we” because I definitely would’ve asked for half a small bite of it. It looked wonderful.

We got our morels anyway with the Assiette de morilles cuisinées à la crème tout simplement (32€). These mushrooms are one of my favorite signs of spring, and this ultra simple preparation — basically cooked with loads of cream and butter — was delicious. Mixed in with the morels were some lovely fat English peas, onions and a few stray bits of bacon. In addition to the plated portion, a second helping came in a separate crock so that it stayed warm while you ate, which I thought was a nice touch. It was much easier to enjoy this very tasty dish once I chose not to remind myself of its equivalent price in US dollars.

The weakest of the main courses, and really the lone disappointment of the evening, was the Joue de porcelet cuisiné mijoté en vinaigré de lentille de Puy. It tasted as simple and straightforward as the menu description: braised pork cheeks (garnished with crispy pork, obviously). It was very tender, pulling apart easily without the use of a knife. But ultimately the flavor was bland, even dull. The carrot and onion did little to hide the fact that this was basically just a big chunk of meat that had been cooked for a really long time. Nothing wrong with it, necessarily, but I was hoping for more depth of flavor considering some of the great stuff we’d eaten already.

Far from disappointing were the Ris de veau “pomme” rôti, puis braisé à la vanille, jus tranché (42€). Two fist-sized pieces of sweetbreads (poetically translated as “the calf’s laugh” in French) were first roasted and then braised with vanilla bean. Some very thin and crispy carrot chips were on top. The sweetbreads were cooked very well — really creamy on the inside — and extremely tasty. And the whole dish smelled absolutely fantastic. The portion was so big that I needed some help to finish it off. (And by that I really mean it was so good I was able to use it as a bargaining chip to taste everyone else’s food!) Oh, and I definitely should not forget to mention the smooth, extremely buttery potato purée that came as a side with both the sweetbreads and the pork cheeks. It was Robuchon-esque — which is to say it was a cardiologist’s nightmare and an eater’s dream.

If the myriad of recommendations I had read for this restaurant were to be trusted, Riz au lait grand-mère en service, confiture de lait was the way to go for dessert. And they were right. This rice pudding was thick enough to stand a spoon in and very creamy. It had a very pronounced vanilla flavor; milk jam drizzled everywhere made it even richer. There was enough in the self-serve bowl to feed a small country, but we quickly polished it off (out of politeness, of course).

I thought for a second about asking for another round for the table, but we’d already ordered a second dessert to share — the Sablé breton maison, tombé de fraise et framboise, glacé vanille. A thick round of buttery shortcake was served with macerated raspberries and strawberries, and topped off with vanilla ice cream and crispy nougatine. The cake was sweet and tasty, if a bit dry. But this problem was easily solved if one got enough ice cream in every mouthful. Overall this dessert definitely paled in comparison to the rice pudding, but then again that was a tough act to follow. Fortunately some extra consolation came in the form of a small dish of warm madeleines they brought out as well. That was a nice little surprise.

By the time we wrapped up, it was approaching 1am. Between this dinner and lunch at Pierre Gagnaire it had been a wonderful day, and I was a very happy man. Now I know the exchange rate is killing the US dollar right now (which probably explains why all the folks we stood elbow-to-elbow with before this meal were speaking French). But as far as I’m concerned, Chez L’Ami Jean’s 32€ prix fixe is an incredibly fair neighborhood restaurant price for Michelin star-quality cuisine. This is the kind of bistro I had dreamt about before coming to Paris, but only in the the way a little kid dreams about the tooth fairy. You don’t know if it actually exists, but you sure hope it does. And in the mean time you’ll enjoy whatever gifts it brings your way.

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  • 6 months later...

Hi Margaret,

the link to the full article and photographs is in the first post above, but here is a summary to whet your appetite:

"The meal was certainly a crescendo of eating pleasure: the starters were decent, but no revelation; the mains really delivered; and the desserts were a great finish. The foie gras and riz au lait, for both their theatre and their tastiness, were easily the two standout dishes for me. The food in general was presented and cooked well using good ingredients. Some dishes were simple, whilst some showed the advanced technique that is bistronomy’s hallmark. The terrine was good; the pork belly impressed; the foie was terrific; and the riz was, well, pretty perfect. Some of the produce selection and application showed creativity too - the use of seaweed was something I did not expect to see and its teaming with chicken and pig’s ears were ones I have not come across before. There were also dishes more customary to a Parisian bistro - slow-cooked meats, offal and terrine included. The Basque influence, however, came through but faintly (maybe influenced by our ordering) and really only in the cervelle; that said, this regional cuisine is noted for its heartiness and we certainly left stuffed. Maybe we could have chosen better from the carte too. Chez l’Ami Jean is noted for its charcuterie (which I could not eat) and there were some dishes on the specials menu, which I seem not to have noticed on the night, but look rather appealing on a second reading. These are not criticisms though and there will be chances to try more of the cooking in the future as I certainly plan to return.

I enjoyed Chez l’Ami Jean tremendously - the food, the atmosphere, the buzz - it was just a lot of fun. I liked the tightly-packed tables; the bustling, at times loud, atmosphere; even the nationalistic décor that crowds the walls. The staff were very nice too. At first, admittedly, we thought them a little pushy and eager to take our order, but over the course of the evening, any animosity, or maybe it was diner-waiter anonymity, melted away and we left thinking how genuinely nice they were - no doubt, plying us with sweet things helped them acquire our affections, but pudding is the universal symbol of friendship.

A friend could not have been more right about Chez l’Ami Jean when he wrote, ‘this is the kind of bistro I had dreamt about before coming to Paris, but only in the way a little kid dreams about the tooth fairy. You don’t know if it actually exists, but you sure hope it does.’ "

Food Snob

foodsnob@hotmail.co.uk

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  • 1 year later...

Went this wednesday and it was amazingly fun and good. I was almost killed by a 200gram piece of sweatbread at the end of the meal, but still managed to down a sizable chunk of the light (!) riz au lait. Highlight was probably the calamar with suckling pigs ear and a well executed pig roll with snails and poached pear. Oh, and the liquid cheese dish was pure genius. Avoid l'Afriole up the street.

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  • 1 year later...

I had a beautiful dish of sweetbreads with razor clams there in January for lunch. There were no tourists. As for it being just for tourists, I first heard of it (in the current Jego incarnation) from a Parisian lawyer who makes regular trips from Avenue Hoche down to the 7th because the cooking is so good.

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