L’ami Jean – Paris, FR
Let me start out by saying that I’ve eaten at The French Laundry, Providence, Central (#5 restaurant in the world), and SEVERAL other Michelin starred, highly rated restaurants. Chez L’ami Jean does not have any Michelin stars, nor is it extremely expensive or fancy, but it ranks right up there with all of the aforementioned restaurants. L’ami Jean is a casual, no frills restaurant that has a chef/owner who strives for perfection, and always achieves it. As you sit in the restaurant, you’ll hear the banging of pots, loud claps, and other loud sounds from the kitchen. The staff has worked together for years and they know exactly how to operate. When visiting, don’t bother ordering anything other than the chef’s tasting menu. So, without further ado, let’s get to the food!
Delicious, light, crusty French bread. French bread is always good, and this one did not disappoint.
Best soup I’ve ever had. Hands down. The asparagus wasn’t incredibly intense, but you definitely knew it was there. It was heated to the perfect temperature and had the perfect balance of flavors. The crunchy croutons and crispy shallots gave it a contrast in texture and added a nice onion-y flavor.
The most tender, juicy, flavorful bird I’ve ever had. The quail was crisp on the outside, but incredibly tender on the inside. The chicharron added another crunchy element to the dish, while the mint juice provided a fresh note to it. There was a drizzle of balsamic vinegar reduction, which gave the dish a slight sweetness to contrast the mint juice and green onion flavors. Pick up the pieces of quail and eat it like a chicken wing, don’t worry about a fork or knife with this one!
Perfectly cooked zucchini that was stuffed with a bolognese that was skillfully prepared. The bolognese was rich, bold and extremely delicious. There were some notes of fennel throughout it, adding a slightly licorice-y flavor. The razor clams made this dish, though. They were cooked so gently. They weren’t overcooked or undercooked- exactly right. These clams were from the Brittany region of France, where a lot of seafood comes from.
The fish was cooked to perfection, as everything was. A crisp skin with an exceptionally moist, flaky interior. The beet juice added a slightly earthy tone, while the peppermint added a fresh hit to the dish.
Some of you may think “ew tongue and sweetbreads?!” I know, it may be a little weird, but its also extremely delicious! For those of you who don’t know, sweetbreads are either the thymus gland or the pancreas of an animal. It may not sound the most appetizing, but if you can get past the thought of what it is, you’ll love it. These sweetbreads were cooked well- slightly sweet, very tender, and creamy. They basically melt in your mouth as you’re eating them. The veal tongue was great, too. It reminded me very much of brisket- the same texture. The flavor was great- slightly beefy and smoky. The celery root was cooked til tender, but had a great texture and resembled a parsnip.
The ice cream was creamy, sweet, and coated my tongue in the delicious cream. The strawberries and cherries added some tartness, but also a freshness to the dish. The coffee cake crumble provided another texture, which was needed.
Vanilla Bean Riz Au Lait (Rice Pudding)
This is, hands down, the BEST rice pudding I’ve ever had in my entire life. The sweetened condensed milk is delicious on its own, but then they baked it in the oven, caramelizing it and giving it a sweet, nutty flavor. The pistachio brittle had a few apricots throughout it, providing a crunchy sweetness to the pudding. The creme anglaise was executed perfectly- having the perfect consistency, packed with vanilla beans. The rice pudding itself had whipped cream folded into it, making it light and fluffy. You mix all these ingredients together and chow down. Let me tell you, it was phenomenal. The crunch of the brittle, the nuttiness of the milk, and the fluffy rice made the most amazing bowl of dessert.
Here’s a little write up to remind you of how amazing this restaurant is: L’ami Jean in Paris is a small, no-frills restaurant with one of the most talented chefs I’ve ever witnessed. I’d rate this restaurant right up there with Providence in LA, The French Laundry in Napa Valley, and Central in Peru. The rice pudding is absolutely phenomenal. Order the chef’s tasting menu and let yourself be amazed by what comes next.