Mes Amis (Hollywood): A Pictorial Essay

Chef Lincoln Carson is back, and in a big way. I was first introduced to his style at the now-shuttered Bon Temps in the Arts District. His artistry, especially with the use of pastry, struck a chord with me. Suffice it to say, I was very happy when I heard Chef Lincoln would be helming a new kitchen. My first meal at his new French-inspired brasserie, Mes Amis, was absolutely fantastic - And this, in only its second night of service.

Located at the Thompson Hollywood, in an area of Hollywood where the ambition to serve wonderful food is often sacrificed in order to achieve a buzzier nighttime party atmosphere, Mes Amis offers hope to those of us seeking culinary excellence as part of a great night out.

… but first, our party just could not resist a pre-bang at nearby Hui Tou Xiang Hollywood! To have Chinese food of this caliber available in this part of town is remarkable. The place was busy as we stepped in.

Huge bite! Juicy, piping hot and rewarding, the signature HTX here are exactly as good as I remembered from the SGV location. The scallion pancakes were quite good, but a tad oily (a minor quibble). The cucumber salad suffers from underseasoning. And the lychee lemonade, though sweet and refreshing, contained a shade of purple which I’m pretty sure is not found in nature.

Beef noodle soup - Whoa! Generous and tender pieces of beef, a sufficiently complex broth, and ‘Q’ on them noodles. Total surprise to have this good a bowl in Hollywood… Huge bite (considering the zip code)!

Onto the main event! Neighboring eatery Mother Wolf was hoppin’ next door as we searched for the decidedly subdued entryway to Mes Ami… The FOH at Mes Ami was polished and cordial. Our server (and the rest of the service team) were exceptionally good: Everyone knew the menu well, and made sure we felt taken care of. Major kudos here.

Cocktail: Lilies of The Valley, with Dickel Bourbon, lemon honey, Benedictine, egg white, lavender bitters… Nice pour!

House-baked bread with beurre Bordier… Delicious (and the first serving is gratis)! I find the consistency of the Bordier butter decidedly more pleasing than that of Meuniere.

Fruits de Mer: Petite Shellfish Plateau, with West Coast oysters, littleneck clams, New Caledonian prawns, and Channel Island rock crab claws (upgrade to crab claws was graciously and automatically substituted by the kitchen in place of scallop crudo, which happened to be sold out that evening)… Can a seafood platter be described as being thoughtful? Because this one truly is - Skillful shucking, expert mignonette which deftly avoids the oft-committed crime of overpowering the shellfish, and simply straight-up tasty as hell seafood served at perfect temperature all make the Fruits de Mer THE thing to order at Mes Amis! Huge, HUGE bites!!!

Duck pâté en croûte, with black truffle, pickled rhubarb, frisée… Wonderful adaptation, with a thin pastry shell. Legit brasserie vibes here.

Chicken liver mousse Napoleon, with puff pastry, cherry gastrique… Leave it up to pastry genius Chef Lincoln to hit this liver mousse out of the park. Huge bite!

Japanese mackerel, with market baby vegetables, escabeche, coriander… Nice contrast between the oiliness of the fish and the crisp, ever-so-slight tinge of tartness from the fresh vegetables…

Prime Creekstone steak tartare, with egg yolk jam, crispy shallot, “everything” lavash… Believe it or not, the lavash was the true standout in this dish. It is as perfect a lavash as I’ve ever recalled having. Great stuff…

Black truffle risotto, with camaroli, iberico ham, black trumpets, preserved truffle… The intensity of the truffles is an honest one in this risotto presentation. No visual or olfactory hints of overbearing artificial oils used here at all. Plus, the proper tinge of Spanish jamon really puts the flavors over the top. Yes, it’s a decadent dish, no doubt - But it’s authentic and unabashed. Huge bite!

Smoked Liberty duck breast, with swiss chard, parsnip, wild huckleberry jus… Fantastic. Tender, juicy duck breast and that seductive smokiness is haunting…

Dessert time! This may be the only time I ask my server if a restaurant employs a separate Pastry Chef for dessert while secretly praying that the answer is ‘no’. (It’s actually ‘no’ of course, since Lincoln Carson is a pastry tour de force unto himself)…

Madagascar vanilla crème brûlée… No gimmicks, simply old school execution. Solid.

Baba au Rhum, with Chantilly, Matusalem gran reserva 15 year rum… A canelé-style cake, and (though not overflowing), just boozy enough to be excellent.

Chocolate soufflé, with Valrhona chocolate, green Chartreuse and Génépi gelato… This is possibly THE best souffle in L.A., and well worth the extra waiting time. Pre-order this one. Huge bite!

Apricot sorbet… Made in-house, this pretty much IS like eating ripe stonefruit. Simple yet magnificent, very much in the Bulgarini vein of quality. Huge bite!

I was energized and blown away by just how good the food was for my first meal here at Mes Amis, and this is during a frenetic opening week, no less. The ever-humble Chef Lincoln came out from the kitchen to talk with us for a bit. He is operating at 60% staffing due to labor shortages and COVID-19. Though even with this setback, Mes Amis is in my book achieving diner satisfaction at a higher level than many other restaurants throughout L.A. at the same (or even higher) price point. The exquisite seafood platters, creative dishes incorporating pastry, rigorous execution, spot-on dessert offerings, and outstanding service all combine to make this one of the most exciting debuts within our dining scene in quite some time.

My friends, get thee to Mes Amis.


Mes Amis
Thompson Hollywood
1541 Wilcox Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90028