Stephane Jego has a strong presence in the room. From his open kitchen, his occasional and decisive claps set the rhythm for a meal at one of Paris’ great bistrots: l’Ami Jean.
Originally founded as a Basque restaurant, Jego has reinvigorated it and serves food that combines carefully sourced produce with a touch of creativity. The tightly packed dining room has an atmosphere that most restaurateurs could only dream of having in their establishments as guests exchange dishes, wines and genuinely seem happy to be there.
With a focus on big flavours, a meal here ought to start with Jego’s terrine de campagne. A textbook rendition of this classic, it is the perfect start to a meal here, even though the generous serving might be too much for all but the most gourmand eaters.
Jego has a way of presenting richly flavoured dishes that don’t lack punch and yet never feel rustic or heavy. Roast quail comes done in two ways. Confit legs and roast breast are served with aubergine, jus and a condiment based on various herbs that are roasted in the oven. The precision of the cooking, combined with the perfect seasoning of each element and the brilliant condiment make this a beguiling dish.
Generosity is a trademark of L’Ami Jean. For the price that would hardly buy you a starter in some Parisian restaurants, Jego serves a huge rib of 60-day dry-aged Galician beef that is simply remarkable. Served saignant it is deeply flavoured, tender and simply embodies what the cuisine here is all about.
A meal at l’Ami Jean is a celebration of life. The atmosphere, food and wine are as invigorating as they can be and it is simply one of those restaurants that has you wanting to go back the moment you leave.