I confess that when I sit down to examine a restaurant menu and find an avalanche of seasonal vegetables on the list, I want to get up and kiss the chef! Such was the case at a recent lunch at Mon Vieil Ami, where the menu was loaded with fresh, seasonal produce: meaty girolles mushrooms, new carrots and heirloom tomatoes, new potatoes and last-of-season asparagus. Avocados, first-of-season ratatouille, fresh white cocos blancs, zucchini and fennel all starred. I ended up feasting on a stunning and satisfying all-vegetarian meal, beginning with a giant platter of fresh heirloom tomatoes tossed in a fine vinaigrette, dollops of fragrant pesto and just the right amount of Italian burrata, the cream-filled mozzarella from Italy. Equally appealing was the mountain of fat and golden girolles mushrooms – chanterelles – paired with an equal-sized mountain of fresh peas cooked to al dente perfection, topped with a perfect soft-cooked egg slathered with a pungent tarragon cream (photo). The well-priced Crochet white Sancerre 2009 was right at home with this fare. Other dishes were less exciting, with a bland barigoule of artichokes and fennel, and a ho-hum pea soup topped with a dollop of goat cheese. I loved the idea of the lemony chickpea puree paired with a well-cooked lamb shoulder, but think garlic would have been at home here, and the dish merited a better presentation. The charming, single room restaurant holds just 40 diners, with space for 14 at a homey table d’hôte. We quickly made friends with our neighbors, even passing plates and sharing business cards. Under the direction of Alsatian chef Antoine Westerman this Ile Saint Louis bistro is one to add to your list, for sure. And it’s open Sunday, another big plus.
MON VIEIL AMI, 69, rue Saint Louis en l’Ile, Paris 4. Tel: +33 1 40 46 01 35.Métro: Pont-Marie. www.mon-vieil-ami.com. Closed Monday and Tuesday.13-euro daily specials at lunch. 41-euro menu. A la carte, about 45 euros, not including wine.