Posted by: mikeydude | July 30, 2009

Chez l’Ami Jean Paris Restaurant Review (8.5/10)

Chez L’ami Jean or CAJ for short, it another highly recommended traditional french bistro situated close to the Eiffel Tower. I also needed to book this well in advance in order to get a seat, and I certainly did not regret it. Here are my ramblings….

caj

The place itself looks unspectacular from the outside… standard old school bistro look. Inside however is manic. I was lucky enough to get a seat in plain view of the busy kitchen, and was able to hear head chef Stephane Jégo barking angry orders to his small team of chefs. Awesome foodie stuff this is.

caj kitchen

Tables were cramped together so no private intimate ambience here. Waiters were bordering on the verge of rude in trying to get as many ‘in and out’ as possible. Non french speaking diners be prepared to be rushed. The table next to us was a group of tourists, and the waiter was quick to recommend the tasting menu to them all (haha). I wasn’t having any of that however and I was so glad I didn’t. The menu was vast with plenty of choice so ordering was a little tricky, but in the end we were able to choose 3 courses each when helped by a slightly ‘eager’ waiter.

To start off with was some sliced french brown bread (again) with a sour cheese spread. Hmmm… i found it quite appetising and fresh, but the Mrs didn’t like it.

caj bread

Starter #1: Fresh Salmon Fillets with egg salad and toasted bread

caj starter salmon

Wow this dish looked great! Beautiful pink colour of fresh salmon (raw by the way!) with an egg and sun-dried tomato salad on toasted bread. It was a shame to spoil it by tucking in… and we didn’t regret it. Deliciously fresh salmon accompanied by olive oil and salad was incredibly light yet so tasty. The sun-dried tomatoes were delicious in their own right… however we weren’t sure how they went with the whole dish due to its overwhelming flavour.

Starter #2: Sweetbread with courgette and pea salad topped with wafer thin toasted bread

caj sweatbread

I’ve always been a big fan of sweetbreads. There’s always talk that they are from animal testicles and the like. Allow me to dispel that myth and inform you all that it is actually the thymus gland located near the neck (or sometimes the pancreas) of an animal. I love the delicate tender taste that it brings to the table.

Anyway this dish again looked fantastic. Two cylinders of tender courgette filled with peas with delicate chunks of sweatbread sat on them and finally topped with a thin strip of toasted bread. It didn’t disappoint. The sweatbread was sumptiously tender, and the sweetness of the courgette and peas brought the whole dish up to another level. As a bonus it was fantastically light as well. I could have eaten another plate of this! Yummy.

Mains #1: Roast duck breast with chanterelle (mushroom) salad, carrots and thin slices of crispened parma ham

caj duck

Again, beautifully presented and perfectly sized main course. We asked for the duck to be cooked ‘pink’ which it was. Superbly seared outside and juicy pink duck meat on the inside. Such a rich flavour was excellently balanced by the milder carrots and mushroom salad. I wasn’t sure how the parma ham added anything to the dish though as its taste is very strong and a bit out of place in my opinion. Still delicious on its own.

Main #2: Braised cheek and pan fried liver of veal with a herb topping and parma ham strips

caj veal cheek

This was one of the best main courses I had in Paris. The dish smelt absolutely fantastic; my salivary glands in overdrive before I had even tasted the dish. The braised cheek was wonderfully done; the meat was so tender it slid apart with the slightest pressure from my fork. Excellently seasoned and soft veal meat. The pan fried liver was also deliciously tender and succulent. I had never tried veal liver before, but I was not disappointed by its milder flavour – a nice change to the standard calves liver that is becoming increasingly popular in the UK. The herb topping gave it that extra edge to complete an well executed dish. Again I questioned the idea of the parma ham. It must be for presentation purposes.

caj mash

Both mains were served with velvety smooth mash. Well seasoned with no lumps. Couldn’t complain.

Dessert #1: Rice pudding with caramel, nuts, and marshmallows

caj rice pudding

Trademark dessert at CAJ. It was an absolutely huge portion of rice pudding, and the best I’ve ever had. Rich creamy lumps of rice sweetend by the caramel and marshmallows. Really high quality stuff, and the way it was presented was to my liking. However it really was too much for me after such a hearty meal, and I had to retire after 2 bowls. The Mrs carried on though… hehe.

Dessert #2: Raspberry pavlova with cream & almonds

caj pavlova

This was the weakest dish in my opinion, although the wife liked it. It was a rich blend of sourness from the raspberry mixed with sweet cream and almonds enriched in a pavlova ‘sandwich’. It was nice, but the sourness of the raspberries proved too much for me in the end. She finished it though :d

This meal turned out to be 80.50 Euro without wine. I considered it good value for money given the sheer quality of the cooking. The service was highly questionable, but the skill and tastes more than made up for what was quite a splendid evening. Bravo.

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Responses

  1. […] was it reminded me of one of the excellent bistros in Paris called Chez L’ami Jean (review here) which served its main courses with crispy pieces of ham. This was slightly more artistic with the […]


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