Restaurant: Mes Ami [ CHEF LEFT SUBSEQUENTLY ]
Location: 561541 Wilcox Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90028. (323) 410-6200
Date: August 25, 2022
Cuisine: French Bistro
Rating: Excellent — but closed
There seems to be renewed optimism around Los Angeles’s robust restaurant scene, particularly as the state prepares to open up more broadly next week. The latest bit of promise for LA comes out of Hollywood, as chef Lincoln Carson makes his long-hoped-for return to the city with a brand new project called Mes Amis.
As the name implies, Carson’s newest restaurant will lean into French flavors by way of Paris and Lyon’s many cafes and brasseries — though Carson says his menu will be a more California “reinterpretation” of the classics, using Southern California produce from the nearby Hollywood Farmer’s Market. While specific dishes are still being worked out for the menu, expect Mes Amis to exude an upscale casual elegance and offer a strong dessert program, in addition to cocktails and wine.
It has a gorgeous new interior in a classic building.
Bread and butter. Bread was nice and crunchy, butter was fine, but no Normandy butter (at least as far as I could tell).
The menu is small and focused, quite French in its way.
Our wines tonight, plus the Grande Dame we bought off the list.
2008 Veuve Clicquot Champagne Brut La Grande Dame.
PETITE SHELLFISH PLATEAU. 6 east and west coast oysters, 4 littleneck clams, 4 new caledonian prawns, 1 maine scallop crudo. The shrimp and oysters were great. The clams were a bit fishy and the scallop lacked the acidity I was looking for.
NV Krug Champagne Brut Rosé Edition 26eme. JG 95 The soon to be released Krug Rosé “26ème Édition” is from the base year of 2014. Given the long history of Maison Krug, sometimes it seems impossible that this beautiful bottling of Rosé has only seen twenty-six renditions. The blend this year includes one-third of reserve wines, running back to the 2005 vintage. The cépages is forty-four percent pinot noir, thirty percent chardonnay and twenty-six percent pinot meunier and the wine is once again its very pale, salmon color. It offers up a beautifully refined nose of tangerine, white cherries, wheat bread, chalky soil tones, a touch of citrus peel, gentle notes of brown spices and a discreetly smoky topnote. On the palate the wine is young, full-bodied and displays excellent depth in the mid-palate, with elegant mousse, lovely focus and grip, bright acids and a long, complex and very well balanced finish. Fine, fine juice, but this is still a puppy and deserves at least a few years in the cellar to blossom. (Drink between 2027-2060)
CHICKEN LIVER MOUSSE NAPOLEON. puff pastry, prune gastrique. This was really lovely. It actually looked, felt, and tasted like a dessert. The pastry was a dessert mille-feuille with the foie acting more or less like a pastry cream.
DUCK PÂTÉ EN CROÛTE. black truffle, frisée, pickled rhubarb. Very nice decadant French pate.
“Everything” lavash for the pate and tartare.
PRIME CREEKSTONE STEAK TARTARE. egg yolk jam, crispy shallot, “everything” lavash. Very nice tartare with great texture.
BLACK TRUFFLE RISOTTO. ibérico ham, black trumpets, preserved truffle. Rich and subtle. Quite enjoyable.
1998 Domaine des Lambrays Clos des Lambrays. VM 92. Good bright red-ruby color. Knockout nose combines cherry, raspberry, redcurrant, underbrush, licorice, flowers and earth. Penetrating and quite fine; offers a three-dimensional texture but is not really showing its underlying fat today. Intriguing note of cinnamon in the mouth. Finishes very long and complex, with dusty tannins and compelling sweetness. This should be superb with eight to ten years of bottle aging.
STEAK AU POIVRE. potato millefeuille, prime shortrib, peppercorn jus. This was a great steak. It was salty (in a good way) and very tender. The pepper was subdued but present and the crispy potatoes were awesome.
SMOKED LIBERTY DUCK BREAST. swiss chard, parsnip, wild huckleberry jus. Really fabulous duck breast. Extremely tender and full of flavor without being either chewy or gamey. The berry sauce complemented perfectly.
ROASTED LAMB WELLINGTON. pastry crusted lamb loin, thumbelina carrots, shell bean ragoût.
Quite lovely looking and tasted nice as well. Certainly not the lightest dish.
SHELL BEAN RAGOÛT.
POMMES FRITES. Excellent, albiet salty. Perhaps the two are related.
Our awesome server Christian
2005 François Raveneau Chablis 1er Cru Montée de Tonnerre. BH 94. This is a mild step up in overall class and elegance with a gorgeously perfumed white flower fruit nose introducing linear, precise, intense and powerful medium full flavors that remain splendidly focused on the stunningly long finish that drenches the palate in dry extract. This is a striking 1er and one to buy as it easily delivers grand cru quality. (Drink starting 2012)
The dessert menu.
PEACH PAVLOVA. rose geranium, yellow peaches, blackberry, white verjus. Bright enjoyable peach and merignue combo.
ST. HONORÉ. pecan mousseline, pâte feuilletée, caramel. I love a good proper St Honore and this was a somewhat modernized or deconstructed variant. It did fortuantly retain the basic elements and flavors of the original. I liked it a lot, although I’m not sure it was actually “better” than the classic form.
CHOCOLATE SOUFFLÉ. valrhona chocolate, green chartreuse, génépy gelato. Pretty classic and lovely.
The chef, Lincoln Carson.
Overall, the food at Mes Amis was fabulous. It was sophisticated, a bit different, quite French, and delicious. Most of our foodie friends went — often several times — during the restaurant’s brief tenure. One of my friends even tried to go weekly. But it was indeed a brief tenure, maybe 6 months. The chef left and they are rebooting with a new concept and chef. At the moment they are only open for breakfast and lunch.
Even when we went there was a bit of a mismatch between the location and crowd and the kitchen. This was good cooking. But outside the restaurant was one of those “Hollywood crowds” of very young people undressed to kill. The music was loud. The default service seemed to revolve around the idea of bringing you a small number of dishes all at once — which is sort of a Hollywood mode for non-serious eaters nibbling while taking in the scene. We had to carefully produce the timing of our meal (aka slow it down and stage it). Anyway, it was an opportunity and a fine chef wasted, but I’m glad we got to go during the brief glory days.