129 ave Parmentier
75011 Paris, France
Dining date: 10/25/14
Le Chateaubriand was our first dinner in Paris. While the restaurant doesn’t have a Michelin star, it is ranked #27 on the latest World’s 50 Best Restaurants list (ranking as high as #9 in 2011). Reviews appeared to be pretty mixed with some loving it and some hating it; I was intrigued to find out what the restaurant had to offer.
Le Chateaubriand is an example of Paris’ bistronomy movement, serving fine dining-inspired cuisine in a much more relaxed, casual atmosphere. Its tasting menu, at 65 euros, is significantly less than most Michelin starred restaurants in the city, especially for dinner. Two seatings are available; the first one is by reservation two weeks in advance and the second is walk-in only. Unfortunately, we failed at getting a reservation and opted for the walk-in route. We ended up waiting approximately two hours after getting there at 8:30. The neighboring wine shop had plenty of business from us and other diners-in-waiting.
cheese puffs, poppy seeds
The meal began with these cheese puffs, bright with cheesy flavor and subtle nutty notes with texture from poppy seeds.
mullet ceviche, leche de tigre
Next was this ceviche – a small piece of fish was bathed in an acidic broth tasting of strong ginger accents. This one really woke the taste buds.
shrimp with tamarind powder
Crispy small shrimp were served next with a subtle tamarind powder.
Bread arrived ahead of the more composed plates.
sea bream, nasturtium, lemon cream
Nasturtium leaves hid a small piece of sea bream. The fish didn’t have a whole lot of flavor on its own, but it was accented by the bright lemon cream and slightly peppery leaves.
maize and coffee
I’m not even sure how this soup was put together but it was delicious. Corn and coffee flavors both came through – sounded funky but really savory and delicious. Crunchy coffee bean bits added some texture to each spoonful.
red snapper, bitter salad, fig
The snapper was cooked beautifully – moist and tender with bitter greens and sweet fig flavors.
fish, mushrooms, oyster, sage
Another fish course, this particular kind unidentified, was accompanied by mushrooms, sage and an oyster cream. The fish was cooked just right with earthy mushrooms and crispy sage. There was definitive fresh oyster flavor in the cream, but something about oyster flavor in a cream was a bit controversial at our table.
venison with broccoli and hazelnuts
Tender venison was topped with a sort of broccoli snow; it was an interesting new texture for the vegetable and the broccoli and venison flavors were front and center.
At this juncture, each diner had a choice between cheese and dessert. We got a mix.
elderflower and pepper ice cream
Tart and rather refreshing.
egg yolk and caramel tart
Exceptional. A signature item at the restaurant, the liquid egg yolk was bruleed and served with caramel on a crusty tart. Great texture, nice richness and really very delicious. Not too sweet too.
berries with lavender and fennel
Fresh fruit, complemented by lavender and fennel, provided a fresh flavor to complete the meal.
I thought Le Chateaubriand showed flashes of brilliance but also put out a number of dishes that underwhelmed. Maize & coffee and the egg yolk-caramel tart were spectacular. The kitchen’s creativity was clear in many of the courses, but some dishes lacked refinement shown in others. Service was a bit of a drawback too, feeling both rushed and slow at times. They were slow to pair wines with dishes that came out of kitchen as well.