I used to love L’Ami Louis, an ancient, dungeony bistro in the Marais, where the chef/owner roasted the perfect chicken and served it with mountains of matchstick potatoes and a big frisee salad. The prices were astronomical for this simple fare, but there was something magical about the decaying walls, the brusque, if knowing, service, the pared-down menu and the indulgent portions of meat. Some years ago, the original owner died, still at the stoves in his 80s, and the restaurant was sold to a big luxury-goods corporation. I may have gone back once since, but my most recent visit marked the end of my long affair with L’Ami Louis. Rude and incompetent service, slabs of overcooked foie gras, and an over-roasted $100 chicken for two with french fries redolent of inferior cooking oil made me want to flee. For the big Bay Area contingent of fans, it’s time to resign from the club.
32, rue du Vertbois Paris 3, tel. 01. 48. 87. 77. 48
WHERE TO EAT PARISIAN HERE
Chez Panisse — The downstairs dining room serves a single evocative menu at $50 to $85, dependingon the night. 1517 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, (510) 548-5525
Jardiniere — It’s known for elegant sauces and presentations; options include a $110 tasting menu, $65 a la carte. 300 Grove St., San Francisco, (415) 861-5555
Chapeau! — Try the $25 and $32 menus and French wines at miraculous prices. 1408 Clement St., San Francisco, (415) 750-9787