Carte Blanche at Chez L'Ami Jean, the perfect Thanksgiving Dinner in Paris

Carte Blanche menu for 80.00 € ($106.00)
Travel through the flavors and subtleties of our beloved French cuisine. 

After strenuous tugging and a massive inhalation, there's a slim (no pun intended) chance that I'll be able to squeeze into my jeans next week. In the meantime, I'm sticking with loose dresses and leggings after overindulging at Chez l'Ami Jean last Thursday evening.

Throwing caution to the wind, Stéphane, Sara and I selected the Carte Blanche menu giving chef Stéphane Jego full discretionary power over our Thanksgiving dinner. On a day that is frequently full of stress and hard work, we had only to relax and enjoy course after course of exquisitely flavored French food with a Basque twist.

Here's our Thanksgiving dinner à la française. Feel free to click on any of the photos that you would like to enlarge.
A steaming bowl of delicately flavored yet spicy fish soup
Canadian black rice risotto and seasonal vegetables with a squid ink emulsion
Giant sea bass a la plancha (grilled on a metal plate) with strips of farmer's bacon
 and what we thought was probably some more squid ink emulsion, although we forgot to ask one of our charming waiters.
A richly flavored traditional dish that is made from hare marinated
 in its own blood, which is cooked, marinated and re-cooked over a period of 7-8 days.
Foie gras and chestnuts are used to thicken the sauce. 

Even though I consider myself a fairly experienced eater who knows how to pace myself, it was at this point that I thought I had hit the proverbial wall. Reminding me that it was Thanksgiving and that tradition requires us to eat until we’re stuffed, Sara ever so discretely unzipped her skirt while I removed my wide belt. Ahhh....time to move on to the next course.

An entire roasted partridge (beak, brains and all) per person.

With a da-da-da DUM, our waiter presented the main course, an entire roasted partridge for each one of us. While we usually listen to Christmas carols after Thanksgiving dinner, Sara and I felt compelled to sing "The Twelve Days of Christmas" to Stephane before devouring the last partridges that may have been in a pear tree. As far as we know, the six geese will still be a laying (unless l’Ami Jean gets to them first)!

Bread, cherry jam and cheese made from sheep's milk

When the waiter asked if we wanted the cheese course, Stephane declined - probably because he hadn't removed his belt! But as Sara and I said that we couldn't refuse, Stephane’s competitive instinct kicked in propelling him back in the game. Although the three of us put up good fight, we were almost overwhelmed by the last piece of cheese. After encouraging us to finish it, the waiter jokingly refused to believe that we had and said that he suspected that we had disposed of it under the table.

A creamy rice pudding unlike anything that I've ever had
served with nougatine and confiture de lait

Amazed by how much we had already consumed, our French neighbors applauded our Herculean efforts and asked if we were writers for a gastronomic magazine. After we laughingly explained that it was Thanksgiving, they shared that they were in town for the Independent Winemaker's Fair and were enjoying a night out in the big city. Even better, I now have a destination in Bordeaux – Château Chadenne – and a future post in mind. 

Thanks to 3 Michelin star chef Grant Achatz of Alinea Restaurant in Chicago for the wonderful recommendation. Chez l’Ami Jean is the perfect place to go for Thanksgiving dinner or an authentic French dining experience. [Edit] After reading Anne's comment (see below), I thought that I should mention that the restaurant is small and that the tables are close together. If you're looking for a quiet, intimate restaurant or have a vegetarian in your group, save Chez L'Ami Jean for another time.

Chez L’ Ami Jean
27 rue Malar
75007 Paris
tel: 01 47 05 86 89
Cake with pear and some other things that I don't remember because our bellies were stuffed!


  1. Wow, what wine did you have with all this? It's all so French-y and traditional, it seems a surprise that it was a recommendation from Mr Achatz. The whole partridge is a little disconcerting, but I'd get over it. And I was just reading about Thomas Keller and his preparation for rabbit, and learning how to kill them prior to cooking. Food is a privilege we often forget.

    The cheese surprises me, looks like Kraft slices. And what is that wooden spoon doing with the cake? I'm confused. And I don't understand the clear glass plates, square or otherwise. Give me porcelain.

    On the menu, what does "let the head cook do!!!" reference? Oh wait, I get it--chef's suggestions, choices.

    And I think there is little need for you to worry of the calories--you do so much walking, a la Parisiennes, you'll be fine.

  2. Whoa...that's a lot of food! We only went there once, crammed into a tiny table in the back and it was so noisy. I don't even remember the food. Everyone recommended it but we saw no reason to go back. Glad you had a better experience. Make a reservation for L'Astrance for your next blowout. Hands down the best (and most special meal) I had in Paris. (And go for lunch if your husband can swing it.)

  3. Oh my word, sounds like an incredible meal! I'm excited to enjoy the last piece of the wonderful pecan pie I made from your family's recipe this evening...yum.

  4. That was an impressive meal! And every course looked better than the last. However, I think I'm probably grateful that as a Brit/Irish/European (frankly I'm not sure what I am these days, I've been an expat so long!) I don't celebrate Thanksgiving. I'm not sure I'd cope with a feast like that so relatively close to Christmas! And I know our turkeys are relieved.

  5. Joseph, We had the house drink, similar to a kir, as an aperitif and then the house wine. The whole partridge was disconcerting but Sara loved it. Wielding her knife like a scalpel, she compared it to a dissection and popped the brains into her mouth. This was the second of G. Achatz's recommendations. The first one, Yam'tcha is more innovative. We've been trying to get a reservation for weeks but it's always booked.

    The presentation on the clear glass plates definitely wasn't as appealing as it would have been on white plates, although they may have been alright on a white tablecloth rather than on the wood table. The wooden spoon was for another dessert that isn't shown in the photo. When Sara told me that I was omitting some of the food that we ate, I told her that it was fine because no one would notice. With your attention for detail, I should have known that you would see that something was amiss. Needless to say, Sara had a good time reading your comment this morning!

    Anne, You make a very good point about the noise level and the "cozy" atmosphere. I'll add a comment about that in the body of the post because it's not the place to go for an intimate dinner. Thanks for the recommendation. We'll have to try L'Astrance! Normally I prefer lunch over dinner because I don't like eating a big meal in the evening and it's less expensive. Incidentally, I just saw that the chef at Yam'tcha, one of the other restaurants that I've been wanting to try, used to work at L'Astrance.

    Bridget, We're down to the last half of the two pecan pies that Stephane made. They lasted longer than normal because we were in Geneva for a couple of days. My mom would have loved knowing that a fellow Minnesotean made "her" pecan pie for a gathering in MA! Glad you enjoyed it.

    Steph, Too close to Christmas is right! That's our problem in the United States - by the time that we've finally digested the turkey from Thanksgiving, it's time for Christmas dinner. Do you eat your turkeys or are they pets? I'll have to keep an eye on your blog to find out. As Joseph said above, I wouldn't have a clue what to do with a live bird.

  6. Ah ha! I knew something was askew. There was even MORE food than you cared to share. No wonder the belt came undone.

    And more and more, I agree with you Mary Kay, I prefer a larger nicer meal at lunch rather than dinner, although I haven't given up closing restaurants.

  7. I love L'Ami Jean! My husband and I had our favorite meal in Paris there. Your photos are mouthwatering!

    I enjoyed the atmosphere, very cozy and rustic. True, it's not what I would call intimate, but I liked chatting a bit with the people seated next to us on the long table (and eyeing their food). The service was friendly as well.

    That rice pudding is to die for! If you ever feel inclined to try to make it, here's the recipe from L'Ami Jean. My husband made it and it was delicious!

  8. Merci and big hugs and kisses from Paris, nycgirl, for including the link for the rice pudding recipe! While we were eating it, we kept commenting that we had never tasted rice pudding that was so delicious. It's rich, creamy and the perfect dessert. We were wondering if it would be possible to make it at home but I hadn't gotten around to searching for the recipe. So, thank you! How lucky for you that nycboy made some - he's quite a guy. Romantic proposals and a chef!

    We found the waiters to be very friendly, too. Good to know that you had a memorable meal at l'Ami Jean.


Post a Comment