Sorry, Kermit

Our critic finds a piece of Paris in the Valley

The liver is the most popular item on Mes Amis' bill of fare, and deservedly so. It's a distinctly old-fashioned dish, one that Venezia's mom used to make for him back in the day: lightly floured and fried, topped with veal sauce and fried onions, and served as many of Mes Amis' dishes are, with green beans and rosemary potatoes. The trés tender liver dissolves on the tongue with minimal mastication, and the veal sauce is so savory I could consume it like a soup, if so offered.

Venezia tells me the frog legs were initially added to the menu at the request of a patron, and they quickly began selling out every night. For me, they are my number one choice when visiting Mes Amis. You get six meaty frog legs, in a Provençal sauce of tomatoes, garlic, butter, white wine and Pernod -- the licorice-flavored apéritif that once upon a time was synonymous with absinthe, but is now mainly a wormwoodless favorite of the French. Venezia insists that "frog legs without Pernod are not frog legs," and I'm inclined to believe him after sucking that sweet amphibian flesh from its bones. Interestingly, I've read in some places that les cuisses de grenouilles, as the Gauls call them, can be an aphrodisiac for men, with much the same effect as a handful of Viagra, but at least in my case, alas, I can report no more than the normal stirrings in that department.

Of Mes Amis' desserts, I'd recommend either the profiteroles or the apple tarte à la mode. The profiteroles are stuffed with vanilla ice cream, and are delivered to your table in a bath of chocolate sauce with whipped cream and sprinkled with crushed nuts. The apple tarte is a smaller, individualized version of the renowned tarte Tatin, the caramelized upside-down apple pastry created by two French sisters named Tatin back in the 19th century. Fresh from the oven, and topped with a big scoop of ice cream, Venezia's version is one of those desserts that causes you to sigh continuously while eating it. The only tart more appetizing I can think of would be Elisha Cuthbert of The Girl Next Door fame.

French twist: George Venezia's bistro fare will banish your April blues, and fill you with Gallic bonhomie.
Jackie Mercandetti
French twist: George Venezia's bistro fare will banish your April blues, and fill you with Gallic bonhomie.

Location Info

Map

Mes Amis Bistro Bar

7704 E. Doubletree Ranch Road
Scottsdale, AZ 85258-2121

Category: Restaurant > French

Region: North Scottsdale

Details

Salmon tartare: $8
Escargots à la normande: $7
Frog legs Pernod: $18
Apple tarte à la mode: $7

480-607-1145. Hours: Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Sunday, 5 to 10 p.m.

7704 East Doubletree Ranch Road, Scottsdale

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Mes Amis' food so inspires me with enthusiasm that I've nearly forgotten to describe the restaurant itself, which is airy, with high ceilings and windows, a bar of blond wood and gray-green walls, hung here and there with unobtrusive prints. The interior looks out onto a large, enclosed patio with ivory-colored umbrellas shading round tables covered in white. (Mes Amis usually has live music here on Friday and Saturday nights.) As for the service, it's extremely friendly and helpful, and in those instances when something is overlooked, it's quickly corrected upon request.

"My restaurant is called Mes Amis, because all of my customers, they are my friends," says Venezia.

Very well, George, count me as one of your nouveaux amis, since your Gallic bonhomie and your bistro's alimentary excellence have rid me of my mid-April blues. Taxes? Caskets? Pray tell, what are they?

E-mail stephen.lemons@newtimes.com

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