L’ami Jean in 2022: oui ou non?

I created an account here just to ask: the title. I was so excited to go there on my last trip 4 years ago, but it was closed. Now as I return this month, all recent reviews are unkind: that it’s popularity has ruined it, that prices skyrocketed, that service is poor, that it is cramped (as before), but now it’s unnecessarily so because it isn’t even full. What to do? I worked so hard to get a Friday reservation, but my son hates cramped (as much as I hate expensive :slight_smile). Any thoughts?

And with relatively short notice, what’s my alternative? Our plan is usually to have a large fixe lunch (this trip, those would be: Auguste, Automne, Montee, and Substance), and then have a baguette/wine dinner. This was to be the exception: dinner, on our first night (we may be too tired anyway). Anything casual, near 1st, bonus for inexpensive and seasonal (never been here in game/ truffle season)

Also toying with the idea of an “eat with” dinner as a casual beginning.

Oh: I’ll also tack on 2 semi-related questions:

  1. Abri - Are they closed in November? The reservation system for this month has been very strange. It would have been a great fall-back (location and price). Because if this, considering Pierre Sang, but was hoping for closer.
  2. MoSuke - is it just so popular you can’t get in at all?

Just go to L’Ami Jean and don’t pay attention to the reviews. The place has always had a certain amount of unpredictability about it. I was there a few weeks ago and it was excellent. Crowded. Expensive but it’s been expensive for quite a while now. Chef no longer goes postal towards his team as he used to.

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Expensive indeed: not a single starter under 20€ (It’s a soup), nor main under 40€… makes the 68€ fixe dinner at nearby Tomy + Co look very compelling. And if I want to hoof it to Sang, the whole dinner is the price of a main at LJ (and I don’t have to share my table).

Oh wow. Jego calmed down?

Well, you asked for “thoughts”, so I gave you mine. If you already knew you didn’t want to go to L’Ami Jean even before posting, why ask in the first place?
Tomy&Co = good, different restaurant, Pierre Sang = certainly doesn’t compare with L’Ami Jean. Restaurants are not interchangeable unless they’re part of chains.

Hard to believe as it is, yes he did.

Totally agree with Carmenere. Go and don’t pay attention to reviews. There is no one-size-fits-all restaurant in Paris (or anywhere else in the world). In contrast to the rather subdued ambiance and style similarities of your other choices, the vibrancy and “joie” of L’Ami Jean could be a welcome relief.

I have never been a huge fan of Abri and so, if reservations are a hassle, next ! Pierre Sang Oberkampf seems a very fine “next !”. For me, one of the most enjoyable and best value restaurants in Paris.

If you are staying in the rather rarified Vendôme quartier in the 1st, your choices close to home base are very limited. The immediate neighbourhood is big on plutocratic style, short on substance when it comes to restaurants. Maybe a taxi to Les Parisiens in the 7th for your 1st night (the fish dishes are excellent). https://en.pavillon-faubourg-saint-germain.com/restaurant-les-parisiens-bar-james-joyce

Re MoSuke, it’s very good but not an unmissable. If reservations are a hassle, another “next !”. In a city like Paris, there are hundreds of alternatives that are as good or better. I for one would rather go to Origines in the 8th than Mosuke. https://www.origines-restaurant.com/ . Or for a change of tempo and style, delightful Flocon in the 5th or tiny Ilô in the 4th.

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I’d wanted to try Abri for some time. I tried to go there last month. Went to their website in September to book a table for an early October dinner. Got the typical “this is not a reservation until confirmed…” message when I selected a date and time and entered my info. Ok.

4 days later I got a message that no table was available and that I’d be added to the waiting list. And yet when I received that message, their website still showed tables available for that night!

So of course I booked elsewhere.

The kicker? On the day of the original attempted reservation, I got a phone call saying that they were delighted to tell me that there was a table available for me.

No thank you.

Apples and oranges. I love Pierre Sang Oberkampf (where we’ve been several times) and really like L’Ami Jean (though only been there at lunch).

IMO food is higher quality at L’Ami Jean, but there is no doubt that Pierre Sang is much lower cost and a great value. Though in my experience at Pierre Sang, you’re almost always sharing a table with others, and it’s certainly by far the more fun way to eat there…

Perhaps the main thing I can add (though sounds like you have been there before) is that L’Ami Jean is a ton of food, so my suggestion is go there only on a day when you’re confident the whole group will be fairly hungry, and not planning to eat much of anything else the rest of the day.

the food is outstanding, but the crowd factor can be off-putting.
when we went last a few years ago (maybe around 2017) they put the tables so close together that you had to get up and move the chair just to let your neighbor out. we ended up sitting very crammed with total strangers. Maybe they backed off on the density a bit now that trendy tourist crowd folks have moved on to another place?

I have never understood the celebrity of L’Ami Jean. Never had a dish I couldn’t find as well done elsewhere. (I’ve been told that my rice pudding is as good/better.) Crowded, harried servers, IMHO ordinary plates. Certainly not inexpensive. I acknowledge that I’ve never sat near the pass with a table of regulars, but for the unknown diner, reception and service is perfunctory. I can’t remember a single memorable (in a positive way) dish in our handful of visits. Just my take…

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We really liked our meal at Pierre Sang Oberkampf but, if we had to choose one or the other for dinner, it’d be L’Ami Jean. We’ve gone during previous trips. During our stay last month, we went twice and had great meals both times. Nothing is done without care & attention and each dish had deep flavors with well thought out ingredients. Yes, it’s pricey, but portions are large & hearty. Memorable dishes for us included the generous portion of razor clams in a great broth, an excellent guinea fowl & a rabbit dish where the rabbit was almost a ragu in its large pot setting. The “scene” & reputation/lore of the place almost work against it for serious eaters, as the chef’s skill is almost ignored, while everyone (lots of other tourists) focus on his personality. And, we found the staff to be friendly. But, yes, the tables are pretty packed in.

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“All recent reviews are unkind.”

I seriously doubt this is true. There was a rave in Télérama this summer. Are you reading reviews only in English?

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At Abri, I had a tasting menu of five dishes out of which three were totally failed. I never understood the fuss, but it’s only my one-time experience. I never felt the need to go back, let alone muddle through a dysfunctional reservation process.

What SteveR writes is spot on, Stéphane Jego is, like Jean-Marc Notelet, one of the overlooked great culinary talents. People have been focusing on his bad temper, which certainly isn’t the most likeable aspect of the place but was considered funny and exotic by some. As if any form of harassment were fun. I have to say that it drove away a few French persons I was taking there for the first time. It is fortunate that he calmed down. The food, also, is better than ever.

Probably the best and for sure the most memorable lunch of my life, was there many many years ago, when there was a possibility to choose from several options of tasting menus, i think it was called something like “around the universe” at 80 Euros, bistronomique style wasn’t close to what it is today, it was MINDBLOWING and thought-provoking… But i have to say also that later on, when it became one of my main recommendations for friends visiting the city, most of them weren’t “highly impressed”’ maybe because it was the A La Carte selections, indeed there is no “ultimate restaurant for all” and the answer is always personal, to try once and decide :slight_smile:

No, I’ve never been to L’Ami Jean. Never been to Sang either, but was really looking for something to walk to the first night (why Tomy+Co came up - it’s very close to CLJ).

I’d prefer to go to CLJ for lunch, as you have, but I’ve read that another recent change is no more ‘business lunch’ (and the website doesn’t dispute this). Our reservation is for dinner, regardless. If the portion sizes are large, then perhaps that justifies the prices, though I’m not sure how we’d order/share as a small group of 3.

My issue with Abri’s system is that it was predictably opening spots 4 weeks in advance, then when November started to open it became very sporadic (only the 10th was open, then the entire next week, but then not, and then open again), and now it just shows no spots, as if the place is closed. I resorted to trying to call, and no answer either. Anyway, as the group says, ‘next’.

Well ok - if you’ve been there twice, and as recently as last month, then that’s reaffirming!

Many of the other responses here refer to visits ‘years ago’, and I never disputed CLJ’s PAST greatness, so this is much more helpful.

I meant traveller reviews (Yelp, TripAdvisor), and yes: english. I certainly take those reviews with more than a grain of salt (I don’t want to start a discussion on the legitimacy of Yelp reviews, please!), but when they are written by people who raved about CLJ pre-pandemic, and now can’t recommend it, I needed to turn to Hungry Onion for discussion.