Paris: L’Ami Louis


L’Ami Louis was one of Paris’ most famous bistros in the 1930s. Today, it has been hailed as the world’s most famous bistro and a bastion of conspicuous consumption due to a roster of VIP regulars, celebrities and politicians, including Woody Allen, Alice Waters and Bill Clinton. And despite globalization and tourism, L’Ami Louis has resolutely resisted change to keep its pre-war Parisian classic décor.
This small shabby place has an interior almost museum-like, but obscure. Walls are painted a rusty auburn brown and lined with coat pegs beneath luggage racks that stretch the length of the room. Red-checkered curtains, pink and flower-embroidered cloths that laid over cramped tables, and bright bulbs that shed a distinctly artificial light give the restaurant its colonial appeal. And at the end of this long, dark corridor is the tiny kitchen and bar, where a stainless steel stove pipe run off an antique oven fireplace. Indeed, its appearance is far less grand than its price would suggest.
The waiters play a part in the restaurant’s mystique. Dressed in white jackets, these paunchy men exude pantomime insolence, smiling happily as they welcome guests in, take your coat, and fling it with effortful nonchalance into the luggage rack. Then they come with a brief menu crammed full of classics, and a book for the wine list.
The cuisine here is old-fashioned, country-style French comfort food, like the kind your French grandmother would love to prepare for you. Ingredients are humble, but cooked consummately and portions are generous that when they say roast chicken for 2, they probably mean 3-4.
20140209-233513.jpgCrispy French Baguette to start of.
20140209-233523.jpgSalad (€30) for the faint-hearted.
A sizzling platter of Escargots (€40) in a magma of astringent garlic butter and parsley.
And how can you leave L’Ami Louis without having one of cooking’s most classic pleasures, and the Pièce de résistance, Poulet Rôti Entier (€92), an entire bird for 2. The chicken is first roasted in L’Ami Louis’ famous wood-fired stove, before being coated in butter and goose fat, and then cooked at a very high heat on a rotisserie. The waiter presents it to you on a cocotte, and you hear it sizzle, and you smell the wonderful aroma of rich butter, before you finally return back to your senses and wonder how are you and your partner going to finish that huge beast.
The waiter serves up first the breast, and then the thigh. It was tender, succulent and bursting with flavor. The skin was crispy, and the gravy was rich and delicious, although I could eat the chicken all by its own. And even when a single breast was sufficient to fill my palate, I continued to devour and indulge because it is just that hard to resist a good roast chicken.
The shoestring fries that came along were the thinnest I’ve ever seen. It was crunchy, but could definitely do with a touch more seasoning.
Dining at L’Ami Louis is a whole experience on its own. There’s nothing more to say, really, except to make your reservations far ahead of time. And while prices are definitely steep for classic bistro cuisine, I would say that everything is worth every penny.
L’Ami Louis
32 Rue du Vertbois 
Paris, Île-de-France 75003 
Tel: +33 1-48-87-77-48 
This entry was posted in French, Lunch, Paris, Travel to eat! :) and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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