L’Ami Jean // 7ème // Paris

L’Ami Jean is one of those restaurants which has had Parisians all a-chatter in recent years. Chef Stephane Jego fuses classic French bistro dishes and twists of Basque flavour, with a great dollop of technical ability. But what gives this restaurant the edge of its avante garde bistronomy style.

Impressive, full of flavour and undeniably inventive, l’Ami Jean sets the bar very high in terms of bistro dining. All of the produce is carefully selected and cooked to perfection; but with that clever fresh touch.

The squid stuffed with pruneau d’Agen (dried plums) is a great example of this. The squid is wonderfully cooked with a light reduction of jus from the prunes, with its flesh melting like butter.

Similarly, an apricot is simply pan roasted and served in a tomato water (which is the pure fluid extracted from tomatoes though a piece of muslin) and served with …you’ll never believe it, a slice of “laughing cow” cheese. The combination is fresh and elegant (despite the kiddy cheese). The apricot takes on a light tarty jam texture and is lifted-up by the cheese, while the tomato water adds some sweet freshness to the dish. A massive success, the equal of some plates served in starred restaurants.

The mains are just as good too, though more traditional. The braised rabbit is served in the large cocotte directly to your table. Earthy, with strong flavour. All of the vegetables are well cooked, with just a hint of crunch. The jus is strong and balanced and the rabbit flesh falls off the bone. The kind of dish that would change the minds’ of people squeamish about eating rabbit.

Overall, Stephane Jego takes you on a creative journey. He proves that beyond gastronomic tricks, cooking is about the combination of flavours and great quality products. L’Ami Jean will certainly continue to play a leading role in the French bistronomy revolution.

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