Chez l'ami Jean
It has been some time since I ate at this old favorite so I approached this meal with some apprehension especially since it seems to be the darling of the board. This was also our first lunch so also interesting to see how different it is from the evening.
First, I much prefer lunch, it was full, but not turning tables like they do in the evening. The atmosphere is more relaxed, and dare I say more French. The first change we notice i in the menu, with a new presentation and style, an ALC, and three menus: a set menu for the day, a tasting menu and the ultimate chefs menu that feeds you until you are full. After severe calorific overload from meals in previous days we go ALC.
Some Pate to start which was OK, but probably the least good of the trip with Au Passage and Frenchie's wine bar being stand-outs. The Parmesan soup though is still outstanding a real classic that is rarely mentioned, its a hearty portion and very moreish. I have a scallop dish from the specials section; here sautéed scallops sit on some raw scallops which in turn sit on a pork confit. A very interesting and well done dish. For mains, I choose the braised hare parmentier, both the meat and potato are gorgeous, although I suspect the potato is mainly butter. Our other main is a mackerel with crispy pancetta, again very fine.
Of course we finish with the rice pudding. It is still very good, but maybe not as good as in my memory. I also think they have downsized the bowl. It's still big but nothing like the mixing bowl of the past. I also note they now have wooden serving spoons - no doubt to discourage double dipping.
With two glasses of champagne (€24) and a bottle of Gigondas (€35) the bill for two comes to €195 and to be honest this is fairly expensive for what it is. OK, it is really good food and I left very full and happy but this is serious money and apart from the cooking, the service and overall ambience really doesn't justify this price point. Remember we didn't try the famed Cote du Bouef or Foie Gras - these are €80 or 90 each! So it is possible to even push this price if you try hard.