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Paris Restaurant: Chez L'Ami Jean

Old Mar 15th, 2004, 03:43 AM
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Paris Restaurant: Chez L'Ami Jean

has anyone been here? i did a search and nothing came up. the restaurant was written up in the sunday nytimes and recently won the 2003 Le Fooding prize, "given annually by food writers to the restaurant in France that puts a premium on both quality and traditon." sounds good to me!
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Old Mar 15th, 2004, 09:35 AM
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I enjoyed a gala 6 course New Year's Eve dinner there. I've dined there many times, as it's been kind of a home away from home, like a trip to a Basque Country farmhouse and a nice, cozy winter retreat, and I got to know the owner and his wife.
But there has been a recent change in ownership. The Basque owners have retired to Bayonne, and the young chef at the helm now is the former sous chef of La Regalade. He's been getting lots of good press in the French food magazines. Stephane Jego, the chef, is from Normandy but has decided to maintain the southwestern cuisine, but it's now more refined, no longer just hearty Basque country dishes. The rather dark country decor remains with some of the owner's pelota memorabilia still adorning the walls, but the menu now is far more sophisticated.

While I felt our New Year's Eve dinner was just too expensive at 135 euros (the 1 Michelin star Bellecour's gala dinner was only 75), truffles were in abundance in the 6 courses. And we missed the presence of the owners' Pay Basque friends, I would return but would chose the very good value 28 euro menu.
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Old Mar 15th, 2004, 09:40 AM
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Make that "however, I would return and choose..."
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Old Mar 15th, 2004, 11:16 AM
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maribel, thanks for the information. the old way sounded great, but i guess the new version has things going for it as well.

since the restaurant is getting such acclaim, how far in advance should i make a reservation?
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Old Mar 15th, 2004, 12:11 PM
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melissa19,
It's quite small, seats only about 30 people, so you may need to reserve several days in advance, particularly now that the word has gotten out and it's been featured in the French gourmet magazines like Gault Millau and Saveuer. Also restaurants like Chez L'Ami Jean in the Rue Cler area of the 7th are recommended by the desk staffs of the quartier's hotels.
We used to just "drop in" for lunch and could always find a table, but that was in its Basque country auberge days.
In Jan. it didn't appear yet to be the tough table to get like La Regalade.
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Old Mar 15th, 2004, 12:38 PM
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Forgot the phone:
01.47.05.86.89

And Jego is from Brittany rather than Normandy. Nonetheless, as I mentioned, he's keeping the menu primarily southwestern (Pays Basque, Bearn, Gascony), but not necessarily all Basque. It's closed on Sun.
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Old Mar 15th, 2004, 12:46 PM
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Maribel:

Are there any other Basque restaurants you recommend in Paris? I adore Basque food, but have never eaten in Paris.
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Old Mar 15th, 2004, 12:58 PM
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I'm not Maribel, but I can recommend another Basque restaurant in Paris, Au Bascou in the 3rd. Here's a review you can check out: http://www.jack-travel.com/Paris/Par...arrondissement.
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Old Mar 15th, 2004, 01:01 PM
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Thank you, aloha!. That looks good!
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Old Mar 15th, 2004, 01:52 PM
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Yes!!
I adore Basque food too, and we're on a mission to eat at every Basque in the city!
My very favorite (and I promise it will be yours too) for "down home" Basque but in a refined setting is "La Taverne Basque" in the 7th on 45 rue du Cherche-Midi. We discovered it while walking to L'Epi Dupin where we had a (hard to get)lunch reservation. When my husband saw the Basque flag, the green shutters, Basque farmhouse look, perused the menu of classic Basque specialties (ttoro, piperade, poulet Basqaise, gabure, gateau basque) and peeked in to see a very well heeled, lively all French lunch crowd dining happily on banquettes at elegant, well spaced tables in a pretty, polished farmhouse setting (with gorgeous flowers from the Au Nom de Rose across the street), he declared: "We're lunching here, right now". Since then, everytime we've returned, we've been recognized and warmly greeted by the owner and have loved every hearty meal. But when we lunch here, we skip dinner, as the portions are just enormous. We've tried several restaurants in Le Bon Marche area, and we always keep returning to La Taverne Basque.

For a remarkably inexpensive Basque-Bernaise meal in a cozy country setting, we're also found of Auberge Jarente on 7 rue de Jarente in the Marais, near that too cute square whose name escapes me. It was a Fodorite's suggestion, and the value is tremendous for the surprisingly sophisticated fare. Two floors, quaint decor (chisteras, photos of the Pays Basque), warm welcome and frequented by the denizens of the quartier plus a smattering of foreign guests. A sleeper.
"Le Troquet", on 21, rue François Bonvin in the 15th, featured in the Bistros of Paris tome, serves a fine, memorable 4-5 course set dinner (not many choices but all dishes superb), again for under 30 euros. The chef, is Basque and quite acclaimed. High rating in Pudlo, Gault Millau, Michelin.

Our first Basque dinner in Paris was at "Au Bascou" in the 3rd, but my husband became very ill (must have been some less than fresh seafood in the "ttoro"), so we haven't given it another chance, simply because we enjoy the others more. He can't get beyond his first impression, but we should give it a 2nd chance.

The place where we should have gone for New Year's Eve for an absolutely authentic Basque feast along with the usual singing is the Auberge Etchegorry on 41 rue Croulebarde in the 13th down near the Gobelins. The owners also run the 3 star hotel across the street, Du Vert Galant (which is sooo reasonably priced and homey, but far removed).

We just discovered (thanks to Gault Millau mag.) a little Basque cafe, kind of lunchonette, near the grandes magazins, called "Pakito" on 11 rue Rougemont (metros 8, 9 Grands Boulevards). Very warm and friendly, *extremely* gentle prices, serving great baguettes, plats chauds, assiettes, salades du journ and menus.
Plus Iroleguy wines and txakoli. Great gateau basque nature or cerise for 3,50.
This is where we buy our jambon de bayonne and piments d'Espelette. Owners are from Bayonne.

For a truly gourmet, highly sophisticated dinner in a country farmhouse setting but with tables outfitted with the finest of china, cutlery and amazing space btwn tables, we loved Le Pamphlet a few blocks from Auberge de Jarente in the upper Marais on 38 rue Debelleyme. The chef owner worked at Le Crillon, madame is welcoming, just lovely, and this ranks right up there with La Regalade, in fact we enjoyed it more. Amazing menu for 30 euros.

We haven't tried Chez Gladines on
30 rue des Cinq Diamants in the 13th yet, which has even been mentioned in the NY Times. Very gentle prices here as well.

Many of the above have been recommended by the president of the Maison Basque de Paris or "Euskal Etxea", so I know the cuisine is authentic (and incredibly hearty!).

Hope you try one of the above on your next trip!
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Old Mar 15th, 2004, 04:09 PM
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That you Maribel. Our family is going to Paris in April...I can't wait to try some of your suggestions. My 18 year old absolutely loves french food. He periodically gets cravings for pate de Fois gras.
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