J’Go

lamb chops

I vaguely remember my first visit to J’Go. I think it had something to do with a wild night at the bar, and involved French rugby players drinking Armagnac shots off my belly. But unless someone has photo proof, I’m going to just assume that my memory may be off. (It very well may be, if it involves my having a belly concave enough to hold any sort of liquid.)

cassoulet bowls

The name J’Go is a jeux de mots, a play on words for ‘gigot‘, which is pronounced exactly the same and means ‘leg of lamb.’ But here, it’s a bit of Franglais, since it can mean “I go” if you’re mixing the two languages up. But if you’re someone who likes great spit-roasted lamb, I’m not sure how to conjugate that in a similar fashion, so I’ll just tell you that j’go’d to J’Go three times this month alone,

waiter egg & beet salad


J’Go is based in Toulouse and the two Paris branches specialize in the hearty, meaty foods of Gascony, the southwest region of France. There are a few salads on the menu, but no one comes here for a light supper: the bowl of mixed greens comes with a Pot de Lou Pastifret de Porc Noir de Bigorre, which is essentially a terrine of pork covered with a layer of fat as thick as the Guide Michelin, no one comes here for a light supper. Ladies (and men) who lunch lightly can find a menu of open-faced sandwiches and salads for those on-the-run.

lamb & leeks mache salad

The salad of jeunes pousses and vegetables is barely-dressed, and only makes you hungry for the main course, which are heavy on the aforementioned stars of the show—roasted lamb and pork. All the pork is Noir de Bigorre, a race of black-skinned pigs that graze on wild acorns and chestnuts, and is prized for its tenderness and deep flavor.

hams

The two J’Go restaurants in Paris are wildly different. Up in the 9th, near the Druout auction house, the crowd is more office workers during the day, and at night, the scene is livelier, especially when a sporting match is on in the large bar downstairs.

(Tip: Beware of French men in rugby garb wielding Armagnac.)

pork and frites

During my lunch, I wasn’t wild about the côte de Porc Noir de Bigorre, which arrive quite overcooked and even through the fries cooked in duck fat are a specialty of the house, they suffered from the same fate as most of les frites in Paris by being soft instead of nice and crisp. Am not sure who likes soggy French fries, but there’s no sense in eating mediocre frites.

I’ll skip the description of the dessert, which was Le Café Gourmand Maison, the dessert vague that’s sweeping through many of the bobo restaurants in Paris. I like the idea; a small coffee with various little bite-sized sweets. The little caramelized prune crème brûlée was good, but the warm chocolate disk of cake was as flat as an unfolded métro map, and chewy. And I can’t tell you how the grapefruit sections in neon-purple violet syrup tasted because..well, I mean, I like you all well enough. But there are some things I’m just not willing to do, even for you.

blackboard specials linens

So I recommend that you travel to the other side of Paris, across the Seine, to the Saint-Germain branch of J’Go. It’s a bit more relaxed, especially on a warm day when you can sit outside and enjoy the gentil Left Bank vibe. Although while I was waiting for a friend, some older gent whipped it out and took a leak against a wall. Nice.

(Where are those rugby players when you need them?)

Because J’Go is a rôtisserie, you can order things like Gascon chicken and duck, pork chops, lamb chops, or entire sides of meat in advance and roasted to order. Aside from overly-fatty ribs, they’re all good, although it’s best to just order off the menu unless you have a large crowd. The lamb chops, I think, are the best in town.

For those searching for cassoulet, you can order one in advance, too, and they’ll cook up a casserole of white beans and sausage that will be ready when you arrive. This isn’t the most authentic version I’ve had, although to be fair, it’s not exactly standard Parisian fare. Plus I happen to to think the cassoulet that we made was the best ever.

Staub casseroles

The wines of the regions are well-represented and although the heartier red wines are perhaps more appropriate to the food, it’s awfully pleasant to start with a glass of very cold rosé or white wine, and give the other regional wines a break. The blackboard selection changes often, and it’s worth asking one of the extremely friendly waiters to offer a suggestion. In fact, when I was trying to decide between the three rosé wines on the list, our waiter brought us a taste of each to help us make up our minds.

wine bottles

He also was extra-generous with the last course, as he was with the first. Even though my friend and I ordered one Pain Perdu d’Huguette, he mistakenly brought one for each of us. When we pointed out his error, he said not to worry, that we’d only be charged for one.

pain perdu

Admittedly, it didn’t look like much. Yet the moment we each took our first bite, we looked at each other and there was no mistaking this: le pain perdu was the best dessert I’ve had in a long, long time. Each slice of crustless bread was soaked in custard, than fried in hot, sizzling-brown butter, until crusty and caramelized. I couldn’t image anything better, unless I had it again last night, with a scoop of Prune Ice Cream swimming in a pour of hearty Armagnac. Which seemed like a fitting end, since Armagnac is how my first adventure at J’Go started.

J’Go
6, rue Clément (Marché Saint-Germain) 6th
Tél: 01 43 26 19 02

42 comments

  • Can’t wait to go to J’Go….and soon! Sounds perfect. Thanks, David for the recommendation!

  • I’m speechless.

    Any chance you could recreate ‘le pain perdu’ and share it with us?

  • I was so disappointed halfway through your post when the desserts seemed lacklustre… thank heavens that fried-custard-bread-prune-ice-cream deliciousness arrived to save the day!

    I think I might have a sweet tooth.

  • We will be in Paris for 2 weeks in September. Between you and HipParis, we are so ready! Love all your posts and your books! Oh, and we will be out in La Rochelle, too, drooling waiting for the nearby oysters you wrote about a while ago. Thanks again!

  • I made Tres Leche Cake for dessert tonight (after finishing some Carnitas made by your recipe..excellent btw) Do you suppose that a slice could be caramelized like your dessert above?

  • Thanks so much, David. Now I’ll have to spend the day with images of you, French rugby players and lots of Armagnac flashing through my mind.
    You made my day.

  • un bon pain perdu, c’est toujours ça de gagné :D

  • That looks like one good pain perdu — I frequently walk by J’Go and imagine myself having dinner on one of those large barrels, but then I’m always going to get macarons at Gerard Mulot…so not so much in the meat vibe! Thanks for documenting this for everyone!

  • Thanks for another great post, David! Living in Toulouse, I don’t usually get a chance to take advantage of all of the cool things you write about. But this time, a trip to the original J’Go is right up my alley! Can’t wait to check it out!

  • Well, nice info you have here. Now I know where to go and get food whenever I stop by at Paris. J’Go would be a place to go and have a good time with my tummy. Yummy!!

  • I will be in Paris for the first time in a month after a week in my birthplace of NYC. I am a French toast fanatic and my fave in NYC is currently “Clinton street Bakery” But I love lamb and I love french toast, 2 things that are not accessible in Hawaii so my mouth is watering for both the pain perdue and the Gigo at Jgo. I am soo ready. though I am staying in the Marais area and think this is a bit far.but my shoes are made for walking. Aloha

  • French food at its best. These dishes look simple but satisfying. I like the fact that they accentuate great produce. I have never had cassoulet but I really want it.

  • Shame about the soggy frites, they really look the business. Do all Paris restaurants use animal fat for frying frites, or just this one?

  • By custard soaked bread, I assume you mean creme anglais? I only ask because I am of English extraction, and Igrew up with the English style custard in which bread does not so much soak as float and on one notable occassion, bounce off*. Brilliant stuff.

    *Had the bread been stale, I could have lost an eye.

  • Just found out that a quick trip to Paris is in my future. What a resource you site will be! I have added lamb chops at J’Go to my list. Thanks for the inspiration…

  • My last trip to Paris was just about a total tragidie, since I didn’t eat any lamb chops.
    THIS will not happen again!
    Big merci for this rec David…I am salivating in anticipation…

  • Lynda: Yes, there’s no excuse for soggy fries. If a gazillion fast-food places can do them right, there’s no reason other places can’t get them down. I’ve asked and heard a few reasons, including that the EU rules don’t let restaurants heat their oil high enough to (as one restaurant owner told me), “Customers complain when the frites are too crisp.”

    Personally, I think it’s just laziness on the part of the kitchen, and they simply don’t want to let them cook enough, impatient to get them out of the deep-fryer. I always ask, when I order, for them to make them “extra crisp”. About half the time, they do. But most of the time, they ignore the request. Nowadays I look around at other diners and if I see them nice and brown, I order them.

  • Ah, yes, European casual.
    “Although while I was waiting for a friend, some older gent whipped it out and took a leak against a wall. Nice.”
    It reminds me of my first trip to Venice. On the first morning, during an early stroll, I was surprised to see many shopkeepers out washing down the walls and sidewalks of their shops.
    Little did I understand then about the propensity of Italians, particularly those out foraging during the night, to forgo i bagni publicci (public toilets, which actually are quite clean but cost like 1 euro) and instead use the nearest wall, corner or doorway.
    It’s “nice” to see many European countries share the same customs.
    You often make me laugh.

  • I second The French’s request that you recreate that delicious looking pain perdu and share it with us. We could probably figure it out ourselves but would much rather you do it because (hoping flattery will get me somewhere) it would surely be so much better!

  • Went here just last week while visiting from Washington, DC on the recommendation of a Parisian friend. We had this excellent pate, tres rustic:

    http://www.photoshop.com/accounts/43ee8b4eddcd4b70a8eeb8cbfad982f6/px-assets/bb30573341d6407f9906fa822f8044c5

  • You are too funny!! I needed that today…as the Stock Market Crashes!! I want to have dinner there tonight!!!!! Is there a “home game” that will guarantee rugby players??? LMK…Merci!!

  • Makes me wish I was in Paris again!

    I just have to mention that I’m on a slow network at work and as the pics were s l o w w w l y downloading, the top first inch of the seventh picture (of the hams hung above chalkboard) was starting to resemble something perverse. :x

    I’m glad I waited till it finished downloading. : )

  • J’want J’Go now.

  • Wow. So use a warm, unset stirred custard, soak the bread and then fry it? That doesn’t sound too hard. And tasty!

  • Talking about fries, what about this magic machine you bought, Actifry ?
    I’ve heard here and there that you were happy with it, but would you mind to share some more details about how, and how good it works ? I’d be interested to know more about this new way to cook fries, from someone I know to be really concerned by this subject :D.

  • Just downloaded your iPhone app on my IPad! Sweet !

  • Prune ice cream, that sounds delicious!

  • Um…”gentile” left bank vibe?

  • Yes I too would like le pain perdu recipe. Please. Second, I want those napkins. I need those napkins. They’d be perfect for my kitchen. Do they sell them? Do you know any French shops that sell that type of napkin? Many thanks.

  • Rina: http://www.larousse.fr/dictionnaires/francais-anglais/gentil/36564

    Marie: I’m sure there are places online that sell French (in this case, these may be Basque) linens. Check out my post, How to Find Items Mentioned on the Site. I don’t think they sell the napkins directly.

    Dr Fred: Thanks…glad you like it!

    Krysalia: I did a write up of the Actifry a while back. It works very well for les frites; the only issue I had was that it is somewhat expensive for an appliance that basically only does one thing, and it’s not very solid. But the fries were very good…especially the ones I cooked in duck fat!

    Dave: The public sanisettes (toilets) have all just been remodeled, and are now free. They’re great, but the problem is there are not that many of them, or they’re occupied, or they’re out of order. And since the stores don’t have restrooms, sometimes folks need to resort to ‘other means’ to perform necessary bodily functions, I’m afraid.

    (I’ve often gone all the way home just because I had to ‘go’. You can stop in a café and order a drink, and use theirs. But then, later on, you’re faced with the same dilemma…)

  • Yes, yes!!! I challenge you to surpass this le pain perdu, David! Am sure you will hit it on the head! I love your blog. Love, love, It’s the only blog subscription I have that I truly take the time to read. :) You are loved!

  • Carmela, The French and Jean Marie: I was hoping one of the many readers who’ve expressed interest in testing recipes with me might give it a shot!

    ; )

  • Okay, I’ll do it. It’s just french toast, right? The problem is that MY french toast never looked that good. Time to put on the thinking cap.

  • Hmm not sure If i should try or not. The Black pigs who feed off only acorns reminds of Jambon Iberico from Spain.. Sounds delicious!

  • questions? Are there any good places for crispy frites in Paris? And will I miss the maple syrup on the pain perdue at J’go? Sounds like the sugar makes up for it

  • Oh, I don’t know why but never saw this post about actifry ! Maybe this was an acte manqué to avoid being tempted to buy one :D.

    I’m going to read it immediately. Thanks for the link !

  • Baby, you do a full circle like none other. Bravo!

  • Tienes un espacio genial!

    regards from to barcelona!!!!

    lamambalina

  • Hey David, I’m Florian, the waiter your met in the J’go. I just finish reading your article ! Thank you so much for your critics… I hope to see you soon in Paris for another Pain Perdu or on of our Gascon specialities…
    Cheers,
    Florian

  • Oh, David, I want to cry reading about J’Go…my husband and I were in Paris for our respective birthdays in April and we went there twice (the Saint-Germaine location) JUST so we could again order the Pain Perdu H’uguette. After we had already had dessert somewhere else. We were gluttons on that brief trip to Paris. And just last night we were reminiscing about the wonderful meal we had at J’Go. The waiter was delightful and recommended some lovely items. And someone else above mentioned Gerard Mulot, I had never in my life had a macaron like those. Again, I have tears in my eyes…I wish I was there right now. I want to try to find similar macarons in NYC, but I just don’t know if they will measure up. Thank you for this post. I took pictures of the pain perdu as well. Just to remember…sigh.

  • Hello David what a blog you created! Amazing food items and the pictures…..yammi no word to explain it. Nice work and please keep doing it.