Every time I’m in France, I always try to schedule a night in Paris and I inevitably get a table at one of the best bistros in the world – L’Ami Louis. Located in the 3rd arrondissement and opened in 1924, this tiny bistro is old-school all the way, with a wood burning stove adding even more character to what is a quintessential bistro. No fanfare, small tables, gruff wait staff, high prices, (although there can be deals on the wine list) and incredible food are all part of the experience.
On this occasion, I had just wrapped up two weeks in Bordeaux and arrived late into Paris, with just enough time for a quick stop at the hotel before a refreshing walk to the bistro. While I almost always start out with the Escargots de Bourgogne (Burgundy Snails.. best in the world), I started with a massive slab of fois gras on this evening. This comes with a huge stack of freshly grilled bread and the only danger is eating too much of it.
While they have a number of terrific main courses on the menu, I always order the Roast Chicken (it’s for two, but so be it) as well as their Potato Cake. The chicken is always superb and is served in two courses, the breast first, followed by the thigh and leg. I’ve yet to make it all the way through a full bird. The Potato Cake is unquestionably the finest potato dish in the world, and I’ve yet to come close replicating it at home, despite lots of trying. I’ve also never found it replicated anywhere else as well.
As to the wine, I had a brilliant bottle of the 2015 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Grenaches de Pierre from superstar winemaker Marie Giraud. This 100% Grenache cuvee comes from a handful of sandy parcels and offers a singular, gorgeously elegant (I always find a subtle Burgundian quality to this cuvee) profile. It opened up over the evening and while young, was just firing on all cylinders. A nearby table was kind enough to share a glass of their 2013 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Laurence from Domaine du Pegau and it was a solid contrast to the pure, elegant, feminine style of the Giraud. The Cuvée Laurence is an extended barrel-aged version of the Cuvée Reservee it always seems to have a meatier, richer character. While 2013 isn’t my favorite vintage for the Southern Rhone, it had loads of character and was certainly classic Pegau. Both wines went brilliantly with the meal and I left full, happy, and completely satisfied.
As I’ve said many times in the past, if you’re in Paris, don’t miss a chance to eat here… just skip lunch and come hungry!
L’Ami Louis, Paris, France, 32 Rue Verbois, 3arr, Paris, Tel. 01 48 87 77 48