Chez l’Ami Jean: 27 rue Malar, 7eme
Went with: Jo and Sarah on a Wednesday night; blown away, I went back two nights later, spontaneously scoring reservations with Michael, Alison and Leslie
Had: Loads and loads (and loads) of food
Impressions: Wow. The first night, we were seated right at the kitchen window. The first thing we noticed was a petite silver bowl boasting two or three ginormous black truffles. Incredible. Sometimes chef Stéphane Jégo would pop his head out and crack a joke. The three course menu of massive proportions ensured we rolled out of the place—Wednesday night, in a haze of salmon carpaccio, cod with beets, a sumptuously melty Paris Brest for dessert, plus rice pudding because Sarah’s single portion, with a side of salted caramel cream and candied nuts and granola bits, could have served a family of eight, plus a meringue. The whole experience left me giddy. I think I maybe brought too high of expectations with me Friday night; I ordered the same salmon carpaccio, which was served a little differently and, I have to say, a little sloppily. I copied Vegetarian Jo and just ordered veggies for a main dish (this does not please the waitstaff at this Basque restaurant), which come roasted in a big serving tray. Instead of her classic mélange of root veggies, mine was turnips, carrots, broccoli and sundried tomatoes. Pas mal, but not as good as Jo’s. Oh yeah, they also came with a little bowl of the most buttery mashed potatoes. And Friday night, I was the one to order the rice pudding, the house signature dessert, and I feasted on that, while the rest of the table went with the caramelized apple compote and cream served in verrines. I’m so happy I indulged in this classic Parisian restaurant. Twice.
Le Chataeubriand: 129 avenue Parmentier, 11eme
Went with: Alison and Leslie on a prime Saturday night
Had: I lucked out: no red meat in the entire five-course menu!
Impressions: I was a little anxious, bringing two out-of-towners to this much-hyped spot as I’ve heard alternately gushing and ehh reviews. I was especially anxious as it’s a set menu: five course, 50 euro, enjoy whatever the chef fancies serving, and that’s it. It could have been disastrous; there could have been lamb, veal, sweetbreads, foie gras—all the things the Frenchies love but I won’t touch. But it was pretty great; not mind-blowing, but delicious. It started with flight of amuse bouches, the standouts being a mozzarella dusted with pepper and vanilla and a sea bass ceviche shooter. The first course was scallops served with shaved veg and potatoes. Followed by a lovely haddock, followed by a juicy duck breast followed by cheese a beet-stained pear crumble with buckwheat ice cream. Again, so glad we got in here. It’s a now-classic Parisian experience.
La Cuisine at Le Royal Monceau: 37 avenue Hoche, 8eme
Went: For a solo fancy lunch on a Tuesday afternoon
Had: The loveliest bread and butter with a glass of champagne; smoked herring marinated in olive oil to begin, steamed cod and spinach to follow and for dessert: a bespoke Pierre Hermé millefeuille—I chose pistachio cream and raspberries.
Impressions: I want to move into Le Royal Monceau. More for the rooms and ambiance and art and decadence, but the food isn’t exactly a bummer. Everything was top-notch: the ingredients, the pairings, the presentation, and the service. Royal, all the way.