I will be typing up all the reviews of my most notable dining experiences in France over the past year for those of you who are interested. My scoring system is completely subjective but in general: 4 = average, 5 = good, 6 = very good, 7 = impressive, 8 = very impressive, 9 = outstanding, 10 would be a flawless meal, of which there are none unfortunately. Note that when I list the dishes I ate, a semi-colon (;) indicates the end of a course. I am concentrating primarily on the food aspect of the meal, as opposed to wine.
I found this to be a enjoyable restaurant with a good atmosphere, if a little hectic and disorganised. I advise that you don’t take it too seriously, I would describe it more as an experience rather than a satisfying meal. The food was interesting and fun, but a little strange at times. There were some unusual flavour and texture combinations, some of which were more successful than others. The central piece of meat/fish was always cooked well, but the garnishes may not be to everybody’s taste (e.g. raw fruit and vegetables in savory courses and herbs in sweet courses). 5/10
[amuse bouche: parmesan puff, ceviche shot, duck heart rolled in spices, deep fried shrimp, bouillabaisse; octopus, white radish, ink, frozen raspberries; sea bass, raw mushrooms, cockles, pickled cucumber; lamb fillet with belly, kidney and brain, watercress, onion, burnt leek; dessert selection: frozen fermented milk with salted hazelnut caramel and herbs, chocolate mousse with beetroot and seeds, pineapple coated in fennel and mint]
This is a nice restaurant, if a little overpriced for what you actually get. Whilst cooked and presented well, I found the dishes in the no-choice tasting menu to be somewhat unimaginative (e.g. teaming scallops and apple, or venison with beetroot). There weren’t any dishes that made me think that this is an outstanding restaurant worthy of high praise. Regrettably I never tried the ‘old’ Spring for comparison. I also found the desserts to be overly simple (I like simple food, but frozen yoghurt with chocolate shavings is perhaps too simple). Not the innovative cooking I was expecting but a solid meal and a welcoming and friendly atmosphere.
[amuse bouche: raw radish, jamon iberico, curried chicken broth, crème fraiche with caviar and Roquefort shavings; scallops with shredded ham, grated granny smith apple, buckwheat crisp, butter and cider sauce; sea bass, oyster, seared cabbage, vinaigrette; venison, beetroot, girolles, watercress, red wine reduction; cheese selection; selection: pear rolled in nougatine with soft white cheese, frozen yoghurt with chocolate shavings, hazelnut cream with whipped cream, hazelnut crisps and clementine jelly; petit fours: lemon pie and walnut caramel]
This meal was fine, although I do not really feel the restaurant is worthy of the extraordinary hype surrounding it. I cannot understand why it would be so difficult to get a table here. I found the waiting staff to be rather unengaged (e.g. not describing the dish when it was placed on the table). The food was simple and good and the cooking competent, although both the bread and the pastry on my dessert were slightly burnt. Perhaps the oven was on too high. The head chef did not appear to be particularly involved with the cooking going on behind him. Bizarrely, there were a number of empty tables on a Saturday night.
[salted foie gras, poached pear and syrup, quince, toasted bread; baked pappardelle pasta with beef ragu, creamy white sauce, parsnip, swish chard and cubes of spiced marinated beetroot; roast wild duck with confit leg and cooking jus, compressed celery root, celery root puree, kumquat puree, aniseed and fresh herbs; tarte au chocolate with cream and diced bacon, caramel and passion fruit sauce]
This was one of my favourite meals in Paris. The five course menu flowed very well. A lot of thought had clearly been put into the menu’s composition and there was something very ‘Autumny’ about it (I visited during Autumn). It also provided me with one of my favourite dishes during my stay in Paris: baked potato gnocchi with parmesan, a butternut squash veloute and toasted walnts. This was a wonderful and comforting dish. I particularly liked the main and dessert, which were essentially refined versions of what I would each for Sunday lunch when I was a boy (roast chicken and apple crumble!). The wait staff spent time explaining the food and wine and I liked the open plan kitchen.
[raw scallop, sea urchin, diced clementine and grapefruit foam; baked potato gnocchi with parmesan shavings, butternut squash veloute and toasted walnuts; cod with green mustard, grilled spring onion, celery and cabbage; roast breast of volaille with cooking jus, roast Jerusalem artichoke, Chinese artichoke, thinly sliced artichoke, carrots and artichoke veloute; ‘apple crumble’: caramelised diced apple, caramel, apple puree, crumble and thyme ice cream]
This restaurant was fine, but again a little overpriced for what you get. One dish in particular was memorable: a ravioli of pecorino cheese with petit pois, lime and coriander. Very fresh and ‘Springy’ (I visited during Spring). The second dessert dish however was poor, involving a few misguided elements. I don’t know whose idea this was, and why the chef let it leave the kitchen. A solid meal nonetheless. The restaurant itself is rather cramped and the interior dull, but staff were very friendly and welcoming.
[tortellini of smoked fish with radish, porcini mushrooms, consommé, and cooked foie gras; monkfish with white asparagus and pine nut sauce; ravioli of pecorino cheese, petit pois, lime and coriander; pigeon breast and leg with cherries, fava beans, mange tout, mustard leaves; baba au rhum with diced strawberries, rhubarb, ricotta sorbet and rum; cashew nut ice cream with crushed cookie, fromage frais, satsuma, grapefruit and endive]
Chez L’Ami Jean 6/10
A hyped-up restaurant that does appear to live up to the hype. I went a la carte to avoid what I presumed to be the tourist menu being produced on a conveyor belt for the camera wielding maniacs surrounding me. My wild boar (during game season) was outstanding although at around €50 I felt it was a little overpriced. The infamous rice pudding was also rich and comforting. This is one restaurant that does exceptionally well to live up to the hype. As others have recommended, I suggest going with the specials, which will reflect the seasons.
[wild boar with herb butter, roast foie gras, wild boar lardons, cooking juices with diced ceps, pomme puree; rice pudding with vanilla, crème caramel, caramelised nuts and mini meringues]