My mum loves to remind me that I hated rice pudding as a child whenever I wax lyrical about the riz au lait at L’Ami Jean and I’m going to go out on a limb here right now and proclaim this to be the ‘best dessert of life’. I suspect the rice pudding she served me up consisted of a packet of SunRice Calrose cooked down with condensed milk. Stephane Jego’s version is bomba rice, whipped into a sensual frenzy with vanilla infused cream and served with an intense salted caramel and toasted fruits and nuts. It really is special.
Riz au lait was indeed again one of our highlights from a brilliant lunch at L’Ami Jean today. The staff were well and truly on song, with orders being barked between kitchen and floor staff and vice versa. Our service was warm, friendly and quite cheeky. After dining at a couple of establishments where only natural wines were offered on the wine list I was most relieved to see a 2007 Henri Boillot Puligny-Montrachet ‘Clos de la Mouchère’ 1er Cru and ordered it abruptly, well before what would have been deemed a normally polite interlude before being seated and ordering wine. It was simply stunning, the essence of Puligny, with its notes of white flowers, white peach and mineral all playing beautifully on a spicy canvas. It had such great purity and poise with impeccable balance and matched the first couple of courses most amiably.
Vegetable soup is poured over a bowl that houses some crisp bacon croutons and chopped chives. The soup is ‘root vegetable central’ with enough cream to coat one’s gums in fatty flavour. There’s also a mild curry spice enhancing the flavours, what a lovely bowl of soup. Lobster with ginger beef and fresh carrots will be short listed for ‘best surf ‘n’ turf’ dish of 2012 and a dish of fresh morilles with a perfectly poached chicken and quail egg hid a little strip of foies gras. It had fabulous balance and that savoury character the Japanese use the word umami for.
My ‘surf and surf’ dish of 2012 came next with a gorgeously delicate langoustine, just warmed through, sat upon some beautifully cooked St Pierre (John Dory). The accompanying reduction was quite meaty with an Asian soy sauce like savoury trait.
For the meat course Heidi and Cousin Lucy split a wonderful pigeon that was cooked perfectly and had sublime silky breast meat. We had snuck in a bottle of 2011 Marcel Lapierre Morgon that was immediately fruity and generous, with an aroma of fresh raspberries, stalks and leaves. In the mouth it was lacy and matched up really well with the texture of the bird. My slow cooked goat was incredible and perfectly countered by the fruitiness of the young Beaujolais.
As well as the aforementioned rice pud there was an offering of banana cake with chocolate and banana cream and Patrick ate most of mine so I can’t really comment any further. The kids had already been well looked after with some superb mashed potato and ham.
I haven’t read many bad reviews on this joint and it continues to be a must visit place for us whenever we’re in Paris.