I ask the hotel concierge at Le Meurice to book a table for lunch. “L’Ami Louis,” he says, with a pitiful sadness. “It’s always L’Ami Louis for les Anglais.”
What you actually find when you arrive at L’Ami Louis is singularly unprepossessing. It’s a long, dark corridor with luggage racks stretching the length of the room. It gives you the feeling of being in a second-class railway carriage in the Balkans. It’s painted a shiny, distressed dung brown. The cramped tables are set with labially pink cloths, which give it a colonic appeal and the awkward sense that you might be a suppository. In the middle of the room is a stubby stove that also looks vaguely proctological.
At the end of the dining room is the tiny kitchen and an even tinier bar, where the waiters lurk like extras for a Gallic version of The Sopranos. The staff are an essential part of Louis’s mystique. Paunchy, combative, surly men, bulging out of their white jackets with the meaty malevolence of gouty buffalo. They may well be related by blood—theirs or other people’s.
via Vanity Fair.