Friday, March 4, 2011

Lunch at L'Ami Louis

For those who care, and even for those who don’t, a restaurant called L’Ami Lous is the place to go in Paris.

For those who are planning a trip and are looking for just the right place to indulge their gastronomic impulses, Vanity Fair has kindly provided a review by Scottish journalist A. A. Gill. Link here.

Gill didn‘t much care for the restaurant, concluding that it was “the worst restaurant in the world.” Not only that, but lunch cost $403. Vive la France!

I have never been to L’Ami Louis and have no plans to go there. But I took special delight in Gill’s prose. It is a pleasure to read such wonderful expository writing outside of the sports pages.

Sacrilegious is the term that best describes Gill’s thoroughly British take on the experience of eating snails. Like a good Brit, Gill does not bother to call them escargots, as the rest of us do.

Here is his description of eating snails: “Twenty minutes later, possibly under their own steam, the snails arrive. Vesuvian, they bubble and smoke in a magma of astringent garlic butter and parsley. We grasp them with the spring-loaded specula and gingerly unwind the dark gastropods, curling like dinosaur boogers. They go on and on, expanding onto the plate as if they were alien. We have to cut them in half, which is just wrong. The rule with snails is: Don’t eat one you couldn’t get up your nose.”

As though he were trying to outdo himself prose-wise, Gill then shared his experience of eating the veal kidneys: “Nothing I have eaten or heard of being eaten here prepared me for the arrival of the veal kidneys en brochette. Somehow the heat had welded them together into a gray, suppurating renal brick. It could be the result of an accident involving rat babies in a nuclear reactor. They don’t taste as nice as they sound.”

As is clear from these texts, Gill derived significantly more pleasure from writing about the restaurant than he did from eating there. We are grateful to him for having undergone the torment so that the rest of us don't have to.


Anonymous said...

About “L’ami Louis”… It's no longer the "place to be" ! The journalist who wrote this very harsh review in Vanity Fair did not mention that the restaurant’s owner, Thierry de La Brosse, passed away last year. It seems that since his death, this legendary place is slowly going down to a grave of its own…

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Thank you for providing us with this rather crucial piece of information. I am amazed that Vanity Fair did not mention it, but I suppose that they did not want to ruin their narrative line. Which is ethically reprehensible.

Of course, Gill should have said something also. As it happens, Gill's prose stylings are still wonderful... despite the rather gross ethical lapse.

Unknown said...

I don't understand why it should be particularly relevant to the matter at hand that the previous owner died last year. Fact is (if AA Gill is to be believed) that it's a monumental rip-off for gullible tourists.

Also, if you go to Tripadvisor and read some of the reviews there, you will see that the malaise of this place goes back well before 2010.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Thank you for the correction...