Had a great time in Paris. Thanks to the great Cheese Locust Stefan for setting up Chez L’Amis Louis. Not as expensive as I feared. The roasted saddle of lamb was phenomenal. So was the potato galette topped with fresh garlic. The perfect palate cleanser to all the wonderfully rich meat.
Couple of random thoughts:
Pierre Herme vs Laduree. Both amazing. Too close for me to call. P.Herme may have more exotic combinations (eg asparagus and mint).
Julien makes some amazing croissants. My favorite of the trip over Gosselin and Kayser easy.
Le Petite Vendome for sandwiches. Not the oft recommended jambon-cantal but the bacon sandwich. I spied one of the guys pull out some slices of meat from the black caldron next to the cashier and requested the same thing. The guy making the sandwhich was quite impressed and made the "you've got good eyes" sign. The perfect bread (not baguette), with a good swath of mustard, and pretty slices of rich fatty and slightly smoky bacon. So good we stopped eating the jambon-cantal because it paled in comparison.
Chez L’Amis Jean-
Had a wonderful meal at CLJ. Unfortunately the homard bleu and the pigeon were sold out by our 9pm seating. We went with the the prix fixe and supplemented with another lobster entree off the blackboard. We had:
-lobster wrapped in headcheese, roasted with veal jus with ramps, herbs, and mandarin orange slices. Amazing. (blackboard supplement)
-Appetizer 1: asparagus. Green and white with a little bit of braised veal. Also excellent.
-Appetizer 2: clams, scallop roe, vegetable sautee over slices of rare wagyu beef. Beef was amazing. I would have preferred the wagyu a touch thinner sliced but delicious nevertheless.
-Main 1: braised veal shoulder with fried kidney. Kidney was excellent.
-Main 2: Roasted veal saddle. Roasted so perfectly that the fat on the veal tasted like foie. Couldn't stop eating the fat it was so good.
-Dessert 1: camembert lait cru. Excellent, spicy, and so flavorful. I’m craving this stuff already.
-Dessert 2: riz au lait. It is indeed one of the best desserts ever made by man, especially with the granola. We were stuffed at this point but could...not...stop...
Had an excellent very reasonable bottle of savigny-les-beaune premier cru at 65 euro. Total tab was 42 euro x 2 plus 38 euro for the lobster supplement plus the wine and worth every bit.
Chez L’Amis Louis-
Again, thanks to Stefan for this reservation. I know we would not have eaten as well or have been treated as wonderfully if it were not for him. As a reference, service here was more friendly and chatty than service at Chez L’Amis Jean.
-Cote de boeuf for 2 aka cote de boeuf for 4. It was very good that night although Stefan says it can be much better. We half jokingly fought over the rib portion. Good stuff.
-Roasted saddle of lamb. As previously mentioned spectacular. I had 3 portions and would have had a 4th if it weren’t for the fact they I ate it all. The meat was amazingly tender and flavorful. The skin, perfectly roasted and addictive
-Potato galette with chopped garlic. Also a must.
Had a very nice bottle of 2005 Domaine Lignier-Michelot Morey St. Denis 1er Cru Les Faconnières. The selection is vast and expensive, but there are also reasonable bottles to be found on this monster list.
I’ll do a brief version since UHockey has already done an extended version. L’Arpege was very good I almost want to say the opposite of Gagnaire but not really. There were also genius moments but a couple of minor missteps that prevented it from being my best meal ever. It was close though.
-Radishes with sea salt to start
- 4 tartlettes each of: yellow beetroot and chopped garlic, red beetroot with chocolate sauce and sesame, and orange beetroot with parsley, and finely minced radish and turnip with just a hint of melted butter. While all good, I still remember the taste of the radish tarlette highlighted with butter.
-Arpege egg. Wonderful. Elegant. Just the very faintest scent of curry flavor at the end.
-4 ravioles in consommé. Each filled with onion, green cabbage, red peppers, and roasted garlic. The green cabbage tasted very close to Chinese dumplings.
-Blue Lobster with sliced turnips and “sweet and sour sauce” of kaffir lime and cane syrup. I wish we got the version simply roasted in the shell. The sweet and sour sauce was so distracting. Here I wish Passard had kept true to his style and kept things simple
-Caramalized onions with orange zest topped with baby greens. It was good and the sweetness of the onions really came through, however, not really a remarkable dish.
-Next, a simple dish of spinach and roasted carrot. It was just spinach but the texture on the spinach was truly remarkable. The sesame and olive oil really highlighted the spinach and reminded me of the ultimate spinach banchan (Korean side dish)
-One of my favorite dishes of the night were the roasted baby root vegetables topped with couscous and served with the “mock” boudin noir. Genius. Every vegetable was perfect. The “boudin noir” had a taste very similar to meat. Excellent.
-Grilled turbot with a leaf of cabbage, and the most amazing smoked potatoes I’ve ever experienced. The smoked potatoes tasted like they had been slowly poached in smoked bacon fat since it was so rich and smoky in taste. The turbot as I’ve mentioned previously was pretty to look at when they paraded it whole around the room. However it was cooked well done and I would have preferred it medium or medium rare with a fish so lean. This I felt was the second and last misstep of the night.
-For the meat dishes, I chose the lamb chop and my companion chose the straw smoked roasted chicken. The lamb chop was good, the chicken was remarkable. The smoking imparted a subtle green tea sweetness. Also genius.
-Desserts started with the rhubarb millefeuille was so very light and airy
-A wonderful plate of mignardises that I can’t remember the details of but which I devoured completely
-The final dessert was the avocado soufflé with molten chocolate. A perfect soufflé in texture. Avocado probably isn’t my favorite soufflé flavor but the fact that the soufflé was perfectly made was undeniable.
Overall a great meal. However, if I had to choose one, I would still pick Pierre Gagnaire.
Prix-fixe is up to 68-69 euro pp. Including cheese supplement and wine, it was around the 300 euro for 2 range. Food was good but I’m guessing it’s lost a bit of the value appeal.
-Asparagus with poached egg and a touch of balsamic. Very nice
-Pan seared rouget with peas. Perfectly cooked delicious rouget
-Roasted veal with a nice piece of perfectly cooked sweetbread. Sweetbread was excellent. Veal itself was good but not great
-Cheese supplement. Paid extra for the cheese supplement. Was not given a choice and just provided a tasting of 4 cheeses. I noticed that the neighbors got a difference selection of cheeses…one of them being comte which I did not get. I spoke up and got my comte but was a bit annoyed that I was not offered a choice and was “shorted” the comte initially. Not cool.
-Dessert. Some berry thing which was good but by then we were caught up in conversation with our other neighbors and didn’t really notice.
Overall, decent, but easily the most disappointing meal of the trip. I prefer the cooking at Chez L’Amis Jean easily at about 100 euro less. Cost the same per person as the much feared Chez L'Amis Louis.
Got the Tip from Stefan to go up to Jules Verne for a drink. Was able to get last minute reservations for lunch prior to leaving for Rome. Food was decent. A bit “soulless” as has been mentioned previously. Service was exceptional. Food was pretty good but outrageously overpriced (80-90 euro mains). We got the roasted bresse chicken and the sole with chateau chalon sauce. I liked the chateau chalon sauce at Jean Georges NYC better. Much more flavor. View was nice though and that's pretty much what you're paying for.