Monday, 25 March 2013

Boo in Paris - Le Chateaubriand

No exaggeration, I've been trying to dine at Le Chateaubriand for about 4 years. My previous visits to Paris always coinciding with their summer and Christmas closures, so this time, the girls and I were determined not to miss out.

This and this report of how to bag a table came in really handy as we'd not managed to make a reservation. So we took up residence in sister restaurant Le Dauphin and kept an eye on the queue situation to ensure we were able to be relatively close to the front.

At Le Chateaubriend, the first sitting from 6pm allows organised diners to book in advance. As the tables turn, those who queue are able to try the tasting menu on a first come first served basis. There is no all night queue, it forms from about 9pm to reduce potential waiting times which seems like a much better way of doing it than the constant queues we see here in London.

We waited inside at the bar from just gone 9, drinking champagne for about an hour. Tables of 2 were seated ahead of us, bigger groups will need to wait for longer.

Once we were seated, we enjoyed the best meal of the whole trip and I now see what all the fuss is about and why for many Le Chateaubriand is still offering some of the best food that Paris has to offer.

There is a set tasting menu only, which changes on a daily basis and costs €60. A wine matching menu is also offered for €120 but we were already pretty merry.

First up came the amuse bouches.

 Cheese puffs - not particularly memorable, and we spotted some nearby diners
being served 2 each.  Only 1 each for us, boring start.

 Liqueur de tomates. Almost like a bloody Mary, a salty cold liquid with a 
chunk of avocado in the centre. This was seriously impressive and 
I annoyed everyone by banging on about how much I loved it.

 I still can't decide what fish this was but I think it was
monkish with horseradish and walnuts.  Nice textures.

 Octopus salad with asparagus and yoghurt. Another wow dish.

 Amuses done, a celery soup palate cleanser which was way better than it looked.

Some nice bread and butter arrived at this point along with the starter of boudin noir, choux de pointoise (cabbage from a suburb in the Northwest of Paris) and pimentón (paprika). This was the dish of the day for all of us who agreed that we would never have ordered it, but were thoroughly blown away by the combination. The boudin noir was the nicest blood sausage I have ever tried and the additions of grapefruit pulp and cabbage were genius. LOVED IT.

 Next up was our least favourite dish. Monkfish with carrots and bitter leaves. 
The sauce was a bit wishy washy and it lacked the flavour present in all the other dishes.

 Guinea fowl with squid cubes and beurre noisette. Another really brilliant dish. 
Lovely cooked meat with a nice tang from the onion and herb topping. 

Pre dessert of mandarin ice cream with rum soaked raisins. I didn't expect to 
like this but it provided a nice freshness and the raisins really packed a punch.

We shared 2 cheese plates and had an extra 2 desserts as concino del ciolo cannot be shared. How do you slice a runny egg yolk?! These split the table really. The Spanish sweet dish of pastry with toffee sauce topped with an egg yolk. Eaten in 1 mouthful the yolk pops and is only slightly sweet, blowtorched sugar forming a hard top and resuting in a gag reflex from half of our table. Certainly fun to eat.

The fromage, I forget which as the menu didn't specify, was a fine selection.
More bread was delivered with it.

To finish, we were given a plate of mango pieces topped with cumin and fennel seeds with what could have been other candied seeds but I can't be sure (the colourful balls pictured). We shared a bottle of red through the meal and by this point we were all flagging slightly having been on the 7:30am Eurostar from St Pancras that morning. A 1:30am finish to the meal took its toll on us and I was struggling to see straight!

To say we enjoyed this experience would be an understatement. The service and atmosphere was lively and fun. We paid €90 each and left full and happy, all boudin noir converts and I will certainly be back next time I'm in Paris. The wait we had feared was a non issue and the food some of the most innovative and interesting I've ever had.

Le Chateaubriand
129, Avenue de Parmentier

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