L'Ami Louis opened in 1924 and still looks like nothing has changed ever since. Located in a quiet street (rue Verbois) in the 3rd arrondissement, you can easily reach it from everywhere in Paris with the metro.
Once owned by the chef Antoine Magnin, a well known rotisseur, now has past to Louis Gadby and Thierry de la Brosse. Gault Millau praised Magnin for his meat and poultry, the latter as some of the best served in the city. Le Figaro in 2011 in one of its best-of articles named this poulet roti as the best in the city too, followed in the second place by Le Relais Plaza. Many were also the famous costumers, with Jacques Chirac as a regular, Bill Clinton, Mikhail Gorbachev, Francis Ford Coppola, Jenifer Aniston, Alice Waters, R.W Apple. Jr and so on.
Getting out of the metro, we went straight ahead to where the bistrot was supposed to be in our heads by a few moments of looking at the city map. After about 10 minutes we found rue Verbois, and started walking on one side of the narrow road. Not being able to locate the restaurant we started wondering if we took the right direction, suddenly thought the air started smelling roast chicken verifying we were right and then Voila, L' Ami Louis.
The small bistrot has about 12 tables, wooden lacquered walls with some round mirrors , a kitchen at the back, a bit visible by some tables, saumon tablecloths and red cheque curtains. Specialized in French cuisine you will find foie gras, lamb, huge steaks, snails and some game. By far the most well know plate of the restaurant is the poulet roti.
As we sat down we were offered some bread, pieces of toasted baguettes and amazing butter. A waiter then left the wine book at our table. The selection was huge with half bottles starting at about 40 euros, moving to over 5000 euros for some Grand Crus while wine by glass started at 15 euros per glass. We opted for a half bottle of La Sirene de Giscours from the famous chateau of Margaux, the Chateau Giscours. A pretty good medium body wine, medium tannin with red fruit aromas.
The chicken came hot in a Staub cocotte cooked in a wood-fired stove, coated in butter, then finished in goose fat before being cooked in a rotisserie at very high heat. The waiter plated a breast in each plate with some of the watercress and then poured gravy on top. In the meantime a mountain of matchstick potatos arrived. The meat was flavorful, well cooked, succulent with nice crispy skin. The thin french fries were not to my liking as they were so crispy, it was more like eating chips rather than fries.
After we finished, the waiter come back and plated the legs. Those were huge, still juicy and tender but you could tell this chicken had run some kilometers by their anatomy and colour.
All in all that was an interesting eating experience but one of these that I wouldn't repeat. The food was nice and the setting a look back to the previous century but nothing so special to justify the exorbitant prices. The service was also indulgently controversial. Then again this place was full, no empty tables, people waited to be seated and we had to wait more than 15 minutes too, after our reservation time.