O…M…G….Where do I start about this place ? I`m sitting here trying to find a way to describe how I feel about my meal at the Parisian Bistro Chez L`ami Louis . Well if you`re a guy and you`ve experienced a good hard kick between the legs then that`s something similar to how you`ll feel when you get the bill in this place. It bloody well hurts real bad.
We had already eaten lunch at 3 star Ledoyen and before we knew it we were heading back out to the 3rd arrondissement area and to Chez L`Ami Louis for dinner. I have to admit I had done no research about “The World`s best Bistro” as my dining buddy Finediningexplorer, being the expert had put our culinary weekend together. He had booked L`Ami Louis weeks ahead in order to reserve our weekend table. There`s only 12 tables in the Bistro and apparently they`re scooped up weeks ahead mainly by visitors from the U.K. and USA. Ex president Clinton , Jacques Chirac , Francis Ford Coppola have all eaten there hence the good standing that the Bistro holds on the World stage.
I won`t babble on too much as i`m actually making the place sound good ,when it really isn`t. So let`s get on with our experience. The first thing that hit me was the size of the Bistro which was rather small and very similar in style to the dining carriage on a grand old express train… but nowhere near as grand as the prices on the menu. Twelve tables and very little room for anything else. Secondly, I observed the waiters, huge “bouncer” types dressed in White – Zero smiles and Zero personality. I can honestly say that within a minute of entering the Bistro I had already decided I didn`t like it. I could smell the bad attitude and very poor customer care from the off.
The Menus arrived without asking if we would like anything to drink .It was just “Menus” and our waiter walked away again. Ohhhhhh my good Lord !!! Are these prices for real ? The first price that caught my eye was Asparagus Spears `64 Euros` ($73 / £50). Were these interleaved with Perigord Truffle ? Nope , they were simply just steamed or boiled then plonked on the plate and that’s it….16 Euros ($18 / £13)… PER SPEAR. My dining buddy Finediningexplorer has eaten in every corner of the globe , including all of the Worlds Top 100 best restaurants. He just looked up from his menu with a look of horror on his face and uttered just two words…..” Oh Shit ”
So what do we order here ? Due to the ridiculous prices we decided to share a Foie Gras starter 62 Euros ($70 / £49) with a glass of Sauternes ( 25 Euros / $28/£20). At least they couldn’t mess that up….could they ? Three very generous slabs of fridge chilled Foie Gras arrived , as solid as a prison wall. To accompany the Pate we got a huge plate of grilled Bread. “ Excuse me , do we get anything to accompany this please….Relishes , Chutneys , Jellies ? Obviously not , the waiter didn`t even look back . The Foie Gras was far too cold , it was dry and really was hard work to eat. One previous diners report summed the Foie gras up very accurately as “Plumber’s putty tasting faintly of gut-scented butter like pressed liposuction” . A bottle of Mineral Water to help wash it down perhaps ? ……16 Euro.($18/£12)
A young American couple landed on the table beside us. Really excited to be in this legendary institution….both foodies and the boyfriend headed up a Pastry section of a high end hotel. Their first comments were “ it`s f****** expensive”. They then ordered the house specials….The dreaded Asparagus and what`s been billed as “The best Roasted Chicken in France”. I quite fancied the Chicken myself but the price drove me away at 96 Euro ($109/£76). I`m certainly not going to order a simply roasted Chicken for that price. Anyways , we chatted with our neighbours , sharing a few foodie stories as we waited for our mains to arrive.
We chose the best of a bad bunch for our main courses. Confit of Duck leg 51 Euro ($58/£40) for 2 legs and also Roasted Pigeon with Petits Pois for 56 Euro ($63/£44). This is exactly how the Duck arrived.
As for the Roasted Pigeon….as you can see it`s an absolute disaster. It actually looks as though it has been placed on the plate and then shot with both barrels. Then placed in the oven to die in its own fat , an absolute disgrace. Nothing to accompany , only potatoes with “Raw” Garlic and Peas. No sauces , No gravy , No anything. To make matters worse , the Pigeon was barely edible , tough to cut and very chewy.
It was just a total restaurant disaster. In the meantime our neighbours had got their Asparagus starter , and their initial comment “What the f*** is that supposed to be” ? I`m glad it wasn`t just us whinging.
Our neighbours legendary Roasted Chicken arrived shortly after. I smirked to myself and sat listening in silence to at least a dozen “F” words as they started to eat the bird. Less than a minute had passed before they summoned the `Bistro Bouncer`….”This Chicken is inedible ….we can`t eat this , take it away please” ….followed by another dozen “F” words. The boyfriend tried to calm things down but his lady wasn`t having any of it. Up she got off her seat to go tell the Chef what she thought of his cooking. Ohhhh dear , at least we suffered in silence like good old well mannered Brits. They paid the bill ( in full ) and left to eat elsewhere.
The house Green Salad for 30 Euros.( $34/£23)……Ouch.
Would I return ? …..Never. Food – Poorly cooked , Slapped on a plate and `you eat what you get , we don’t pander to customers` . Service – I`ll go as far to say pompous and intimidating with a dash of ignorance on the side.
At this point we decided enough was enough , no desserts as we had spotted them at another table looking plain and very boring ( for 25 to 30 Euro ) We paid our bill and left , never to walk into Chez L`Ami Louis ever again. As for “The best kept secret in Paris“ I`ll use a traditional English term….”Absolute Bollocks”. The food writer AA Gill was 100% accurate in his description of L`Ami Louis – “It is, all things considered, entre nous, the worst restaurant in the world “
15 Comments Add yours
Cheers for the heads up. Will certainly be avoiding. Looks like riding on their reputation of old.
iTyped with my iThumbs. Please excuse brevity and any typos.
Wow. Makes me even more upset whenever a glossy magazine or blog champion this place. What a ridiculous price to pay for shitty food.
That’s terrible. Sorry you had to endure this. We just left Paris after a week, and are sad to report similar experiences at “highly recommended” restaurants by famous publications. Total rip off, terrible food (service was mostly ok where we ended up). Allard, in the 6ieme arrond. was exactly like Bistrot de l’Ami Louis. Avoid as well. You should post this on Tripadvisor and warn others :))
Yes, it is very trendy to dump all over L’Ami Louis. But permit me a contrary opinion. We ate here a couple of years ago – Sunday afternoon “lunch”. We had a delightful meal. The service was attentive and professional, even friendly. (Look, if you want chatty, amateurish wait-service, go to Olive Garden, so you can talk to your waitress about your cousin from Tulsa who also just loves the breadsticks.) We had the escargots, which were garlicky and wonderful, and the sauteed wild mushrooms (cepes). I am not a foie gras eater, but my lunch companions were, and they seemed pretty happy with it. The roasted chicken was not life-altering, but it was very good, juicy and smoky, as were the shoestring potatoes fried in duck fat. The grilled bread was constantly replenished. We had two very nice bottles of Burgundy during our meal, followed by raspberries and creme fraiche and Armagnac in a snifter for dessert. Yes, we spent an ungodly amount of money – roughly $600/couple for “lunch”. But we had a lovely experience, the food was excellent, we took our time, and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.
Snails, mushrooms , chicken , raspberries and a $600 bill for 2 in a “Bistro “….Hmmmnnnnn kinda says it all.
Glad to see that an English speaker – John – fully understood what l’Ami Louis is about. I love the place, even really expensive, but a splendid bistrot nonetheless. The rip-off is in so-called modern cuisine restaurants where you eat almost nothing, in huge but empty plates, for two third the price of l’ Am Louis, with 10 times less pleasure…
A $600 meal for two is the complete antithise of a great French bistro. Simple classic food,passionately prepared and served with humble civility is what I crave when I dine out. Feeling gutted is not
A bit pricey, but I loved it. Can’t wait to go back!
My experience at C l’A L was 20 years ago, so not relevant except in terms of the place’s reputation. We were 5 eating a late lunch, one of our group having been before and insisting we needed to visit. We ate escargots, pate, plates of pommes frites, and somehow thought that we could polish off two roast chickens. The birds were huge and cooked to perfection, enriched with goose fat under the skin. We couldn’t begin to finish all we had, and that was a shame, because we’d have saved big ordering just one chicken. Yes, it was almost stupidly expensive for simple food, but it was delicious, and so was the wine. Can’t complain. My friend who chose it is the type who will overspend for dinner. I’m the type who likes to look at a menu and prices first. A lot easier to do today.
The trouble with French cuisine, is that it’s not particularly inspiring due to resting on its laurels. I would go so far to say that the average chef hasn’t been exposed to other nations cooking and thus is insular in his thinking. Anyway, Australia has a far better dining experience than France.
April 8 2019 Totally true. Three persons 720 euro!!!! ……. No wine just 1 glass of champagne my son drank cola and my husband sparkling badoit water !!! I feel so angry ! Because the chicken was tough! And the lamb chops (110 euro) were over cooked. We were expecting to eat an amazing dinner and were displeased before the bill even came! I feel very resentful to this bistro and will never return! And best ever dinner was at Lili in the Peninsula hotel …..
Our experience was the same. Being an AA Gill fan, I had actually read the review before booking a table. So why did I? Because I felt that given all of the press and fans, Gill had to be overdoing it. His review, like yours, was dead on.
What perplexed me were two tables of well to do Parisians next to us (who the waiters clearly knew, and treated like royalty). We’re they sick of all the great food in Paris that could be found nearly anywhere?
Many people who have criticized the restaurant here have not taken into consideration that L’Ami Louis has been around more than 100 years. During that period, the ownership and staff has changed at least four times to the best of my knowledge.
It is not fair to expect to get the service or prices of many years ago. Furthermore, the diners who were surprised by the prices could have easily read the “carte” posted on the window outside the restaurant. No one forced them to open the door.
Nevertheless, apparently the quality of the food and service no longer lives up to its fame of yesteryear. I speak as one who had his first incredible dinner here almost fifty years ago with two friends in February,1983. We ate foie gras with toasts, escargots, roasted quail in a grape sauce, roast chicken for two with a mound of french fries, a cheese tray (à volanté) the size of the table, three “coupes” of fresh strawberries with whipped cream, all washed down with two half-bottles of chablis and two full bottles of a decent bordeaux. The total bill was 3000 francs which in those days amounted to roughly $90 per person. By no means cheap, but well worth the experience. Accompanying the bill were three glasses of Vieille Prûne, on the house.
I returned three more times, once for dinner with a friend in March, 1983, dinner with five friends in 1986, and again for lunch in 1993 Each time was a unique experience that I will never forget. Sadly, it’s no longer the same. However, there are many restaurants in Paris that are now among the most excellent where a fine, and memorable experience can be had at reasonable prices, if you know where to look.
Barefoot contessa. Ina garden recommended this place in her cook eating in Paris. Guess she’s impressed by price and not food unless they knew who she was and treated her special. Thanks for the heads up
I’ve been to Chez L’Ami Louis about 12 times over the years, first in 1997, last in 2017. Never had a bad meal. Brits from London (not outside of it) complain about everything and are rarely happy and generally cheap AF. I lived there 6 years. Who orders pidgin?
The chicken is seriously expensive and worth it. About $120 for a massive bird, enough for two. The foie Gras is melt in the mouth. The scallops beautifully cooked and delicious. The potato galette is sublime. The wines are over priced but so what. The list makes for fabulous reading and is filled with great and rare wines. The salad and desserts are not worth ordering. Avoid them. Same with the asparagus.
If you don’t want chicken, the veal chop is great.
That’s an honest review from someone who knows. Also, the people watching is fun.