L’Ami Jean, a tiny french basque style bistro located in the heart of Paris, France. Headed by culinary extradonaire, Chef Stephane Jego, this gastronomically captivating restaurant is a favorite among locals and those in the “know” about what inspirational dishes are created here.
As non-descript and unassuming as it looked from the outside, tucked away on a narrow avenue off Rue saint-dominque and although it was recommended by the skillful Chef Claude Gaty of “Top of The World” Stratosphere, Las Vegas as a place that most acclaimed chefs visit at least once when in Paris, it did not prepare me for what would be a a tantalizing experience for my taste buds. I was about to embark on a journey of rich, savory, succulent, and sweet morsels of pure culinary delight.
My mother and I entered into a cramped restaurant filled with rich wooden tables and chairs, bustling with activity. I was amazed at how small the restaurant was and just as enthralled with the décor. A relaxed atmosphere, the dark rustic walls were covered with an eclectic mix of unconventional art, quirky menagerie of graffiti & carricticures of pigs, French country style linen and hues of reds and oranges bathed in the warm glow of hanging lights. His collage of family photos of what I presumed where his children, placed discreetly in the back corner near the open plan kitchen gave me the sense that this probably served as Chef Stephanes’ muse for his inspirations. Here was a man who created for the sheer joy of cooking in the Basque style with a modern twist of the region from where he grew up.
The waiters were attentive, even flirtatious (ooh la, la) and most accommodating, describing every plate put before us and promising we were in for a treat.
We were started off with an array of small plates. Each presentation boasting a distinct and unique flavor as individual as the meal before it.
Crusty, chewy hot homemade brown baked bread - Served with creamy & chunky goat cheese spread with a touch of Basque French Chile pepper. Piquant in flavor
Lobster bisque soup- Bright large white bowl filled with toasted miniature crouton, finally chopped chives, diced potatoes & carrots, tiny whole prawn, chewy lardoons(bacon), the rich lobster soup, laced with a hint of sherry is then poured over it to create a creamy, savory concoction with just enough texture to make you want to lick the bowl clean.
Shredded mixture of roasted beef & veal - Piled atop a medley of wild mushroom & rocket greens, which sits in a burgundy flavored aus jus served with roasted prawns, melted provolone cheese, garnished with a thin slice of crisp pancetta and mustard seeds that burst with aromatic flavor in your mouth.
Boiled whole lobster-Superbly seasoned in a hearty beef broth paired with an unbelievable well-formed fatty, yet firm beef marrow. Amazingly decadent and quite unique.
Broiled light, tender and flaky mackerel - Crowned with seaweed and a blend of fresh herb relish and a touch of salted bacon. Exceptional
Calamari stuffed with butternut squash - A conception designed to intrigue you. French wild mushrooms, porcini, chanterelles roasted to a luscious delicate tenderness that it literally melts in your mouth, layered on a flat bamboo leaf shaped plate and topped with large slices of poached calamari stuffed with sweet butternut squash alongside steamed baby whole carrots, turnips and baby leek stems. Perfect harmony, brilliant, pure and simple.
Roasted Veal sweetbreads- An extradinaory example of French country cuisine. The sweetbreads were aromatic, succulent, firm texture yet supple, served with a cacao sauce that has the heady aroma of chocolate but infused with the savory flavor and nuance of coffee. Remarkable.
Rice pudding- Chez l’ami Jean signature dessert. A silky, velvety and smooth confection. The rice itself firm and distinct, richly laced with Bourbon vanilla and drizzled with honey to which you add garnishes of crumbled glazed peanut brittle, raisins, crushed almonds & brown sugar. The ultimate dessert.
Sherry soaked chocolate cake- Dangerously indulgent, placed with a raisin vanilla bean icecream and a fusion of plum and grape liquid sorbet. Sweet yet refreshing and wonderfully satiating.
The longer we lingered, the more food was served, we were perfectly and satisfactorily gorged. I now understood why the place was enthusiastically packed, even so late into the night. The meals were motivational, genuine, innovative, and full of robust flavor. It was then we realized we had been treated to a presentation of inspired choices that we would not normally find on their daily menu and we were honored to experience this indulgence.
C’est Magnifique!- look at that, I’m speaking French already
Chez l’Ami Jean
27 Rue Malar, 75007 Paris, France
+33 1 47 05 86 89