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Paris – L’Ami Jean

Scaffolding covered facade of Chez L'Ami Jean

What can I say about L’Ami Jean? We came to eat here halfway through our Paris adventure and it was far and away the best meal we’ve had yet and one I’ll be thinking about for a long time to come. I had tried to make a reservation here before we left via email and never heard anything back. We happened to be in the area so I suggested we stop by and, at the very least, try and make a reservation for later next week. I had heard this place was notoriously hard to get into so I was not optimistic. However, when we arrived at the unassuming cafe, which was almost hidden under a pile of scaffolding, around 7pm, we were told that we could indeed be seated immediately provided we leave by 9pm. No problemo. We unbuttoned our pants and settled in with a lovely bottle of wine.

What followed was one of the best meals I’ve had in a long time. We decided to go for the 3 course prix fixe menu which included a starter (entree), a main course (plat), and a dessert for 35 Euros. I couldn’t understand much of the menu, it being in French and all, so I picked just picked some things and assumed they would be good. The waiters were very good natured about it all. Ben knew what he wanted for the main course, but asked the waiter to choose something for him for the starter and dessert and was promised a great surprise.
I still have no idea what I ate for the first course, but it was excellent. Some sort of savoury mousse with bruleed mushrooms on top, mushroom jus and a bright green parsley foam with accompanying toast. I don’t even like mushrooms and I ate every single bit. Ben’s first course surprise was a mushroom bisque with fresh herbs because, as the waiter said, ’tis the season. Also delicious.

For the main course I chose a filet of duck and Ben chose the “porcelet” which came three ways; a portion of roasted pork, blood sausage and a paper thin wafer of cured bacon. Both main courses came with a celeriac puree which was like mashed potatoes, only better. My duck was lovely, perfectly cooked and served in a delicious puddle of jus, but Ben’s dish was definitely the better choice. The blood sausage (or pudding, we’re not sure) was like nothing I’ve ever put in my mouth and the roasted pork literally fell apart as soon as you touched it with your fork.

Dessert, however, blew the rest of the meal out of the water. I ordered “le riz au lait”, or rice pudding, hailed by the waiter as the “Best Rice Pudding In The World”. I concur. It was served in a gigantic bowl (with its own wooden spoon) along side a fig compote and salted caramel beurre (butter). The rice pudding was spectacular. The salted caramel beurre was revolutionary. Putting the two together in my own little bowl with little crunchy almond bits created such an emotional experience that I almost shed tears right there in the restaurant. It was simultaneously new and familiar and so comforting I wanted to crawl inside the bowl itself and take up residence. I’m not really sure why they even have other dessert offerings, but Ben did have a refreshingly tart citrus mousse with some sort of nut brittle and homemade marshmallows. But the riz au lait really stole the show.

I would recommend this place to anyone coming to Paris, whether for a full meal or just for the Riz Au Lait. You won’t regret it!

One Comment

  1. Anonymous says:

    lovely description my friend! i want to live in the pudding too!

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