Émi obtained a hard-to-get reservation at L’Ami Jean, the hot Seventh Arrondissment bistro featuring Basque food, and we went last week. We had heard great things about this place from friends and from the press – praised by Mark Bittman in The New York Times, an article in Bon Appétit, etc. We had the 5-course menu, with some changes to take account of Émi’s dietary constraints, and were pretty disappointed. The food was good, but not better than that, apart from the huge vat of truly spectacular rice pudding served at the end. L’Ami Jean has the simplicity and warmth of a classic bistro, so our evening there was extremely enjoyable despite our mild disappointment with the food.
As a result of the publicity mentioned above, a majority of the clientele were Americans, and we found ourselves conversing in English with the two women on one side and the two men on the other. Nice, but you don’t come to Paris to meet Americans.
For a Basque bistro, I used to prefer Le Trouquet, in the Fifteenth, where the welcome and food were always extraordinary. Although I haven’t eaten there for a couple of years, during which there has been a change in management – the owner chef sold to his first assistant – it still gets good reviews. However, I will have to revisit the place to verify that they are merited.
L’Ami Jean, 27 rue Malar, 75007 Paris (Métro Invalides or La Tour-Mauberg). Le Troquet, 21 rue François Bonvin, 75015 Paris (Métro Sèvres Lecourbe or Volontaires).