Chez Janou – Paris

On the second night in Paris, my brother insisted that we visit his favourite bistro in Paris – Chez Janou.  He reserved a table weeks before our arrival, which was good because it was packed to the rafters and people were being turned away from the restaurant.  Why on earth was it so popular?

Janou was popular with both locals and visitors, and my brother told me about this place some time ago.  He always left the restaurant with a happy tummy and a happy heart.

Janou is a busy, casual bistro, and it was quite loud inside.  Almost like a pub.  It put me in a good mood straight away (the happy mood could have also been because my brother and some other friends had joined us in Paris that day) and I was eager to try their food.  We all ordered the prix fixe menu (around €36). We ordered a bottle of red wine to start and it warmed me up while I waited for the entrees to arrive.

My entree of prawns grilled in butter and herbs arrived on a little hotplate.  It smelt all buttery and I started to salivate.  Good sign.  When I bit into the prawns however, it didn’t impress me as much as the smell.  The prawns were overcooked (a BIG no no for me) which turned me off.  The dish was very simple, and for the main ingredient to be cooked in such a mediocre fashion was disappointing.  I wasn’t sure what to expect after this.

Grilled prawns - Chez Janou

The main was duck breast in jus with mashed potato.  A very standard dish in any bistro.  I’m not a big fan of duck and when I do eat duck, it’s normally roasted, not It is also very easy to overcook the breast.  But I was concerned for nothing.  I cut a little piece and popped it into my mouth and a burst of juicy duck flavour filled my senses.  The duck wasn’t too gamey in flavour as it was cooked perfectly pink and retained a lot of moisture.  It was so yummy.  The jus had been reduced to have a strong flavour, but it wasn’t too salty.  I could taste the meat flavour, the sweetness of wine, and the herb flavour from the bouquet garni that would have been tossed in the jus.  The mash potato was super creamy and there was a hint of roasted garlic.  The French really know how to do a great mash vegetable.  YUM (I know I’m saying yum often, but it’s honestly the word that popped into my mind – clearly I’m not an acclaimed food critic).  I was honestly surprise how much I enjoyed this dish.

Baked duck breast - Chez Janou

For dessert, I had a chocolate fondant.  I really like fondant.  It isn’t a complex dessert, but I haven’t had a lot of good ones.  Too floury and dry, too runny, too sweet, I’ve made many problems with fondants.  But I love the flavour of dark chocolate mixed with cream so I always come back to them.  Since it was on the specials board, I decided to give it a try.

The fondant came out nice and hot, and had a cute little dimple in the middle of the cake.  It also had a drizzle of caramel around the cake – I LOVE a good caramel.  The fondant smelt sooooooooooo chocolate-y.  I cut into the cake and this gooey chocolate liquid slowly oozed out of the middle.  Like chocolate lava.  I let it cool down a smidge before taking a mouthful.  The fondant had a very rich and smooth chocolate flavour.  It was very rich indeed.  The caramel sauce was slightly bitter which balanced the richness of the fondant.  I was in chocolate heaven.  I wish I ordered a second one, but I was full to the brim after the fondant.

Chocolate fondant - Chez Janou

Even though I was full, I still taste tested some other desserts.  Mr Ana had a creme caramel (his favourite).  It was very creamy but tasted a little too sweet after tasting my fondant.

Creme caramel - Chez Janou

My brother had home made chocolate mousse, which the bistro had made earlier that day.  The mousse came out in a giant serving bowl and my brother was given an empty bowl to scoop out a portion – just like you would at home.  He scooped out a decent portion and I was able to try some.  I remember it being very fluffy and smooth, they clearly knew how to make a good mousse.  But I still preferred my fondant 🙂

Did I leave the restaurant with a happy tummy and a happy heart?  Most definitely.  Overall the food was very enjoyable (I would order a different entree next time though), the atmosphere of the bistro was buzzing, I was with my good friends (and Mr Ana of course)……………….  and, I was in Paris.

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