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Le Chateaubriand

Chateaubriand has been on my restaurant list for a while. My email archive shows that the first time I talked about it with my friends was all the way back in 2009. Ah, those were the days I dreamt about living in Paris. And that email was written ahead of one of my countless trips to Paris. The restaurant visit failed to happen then (I left it too late to make a reservation) and I’ve been procrastinating since. No more.

The boy and I smartened up last weekend, after he made a timely reservation (2-weeks ahead), and head out towards Parmentier in anticipation of the surprises which we would be served. Menu in Chateaubriand changes daily, with the majority of the dishes set in accordance to what’s fresh in the market. Certain amuse-bouches have so far been always featured in the menu, and in the case of desserts, they change every few months.

As we arrived a little ahead of time, we decided to take a stroll along Canal St Martin nearby. The chilly spring evening meant there were not a lot of people around, but bathed under the soft lighting along the waterway, one could not helped but felt the magic that Paris cast upon locals and visitors alike. Of course, it was exactly in moment like this I went “drat, I really should get a new and better camera so I can capture this scene clearly, not blobs of blurry lights”. Yes, I am the soul of romanticism ;)

We were warmly received by an energetic staff who offered us a single sheet of A4 whereupon the menu of the day was printed, and a relatively thick “book” of wine list. Given how little we drink (ok, how little I drink – the downside of possessing too little alcohol dehydrogenase) we sought for advice rather than perusing through and finally ordered something in half bottle (sorry, I don’t remember wine name very well either).

First up, some palate teasers to lead us into the game of tasting menu. A couple of warm baby gougères instantly had me melted into something warm and fuzzy (I had never quite manage to create perfect gougère like these myself!) and it was swiftly followed with a small dish each of citrus-sy fresh ceviche shot. These two amuse-bouches have always been part of the menu. And then we received tempura of veal brain. Teeny tiny ball of creamy bite, delicious, but not quite sure what to make of it thereafter…

The theme of sea produce was prominent in our next two dishes. We were first served cod with seaweed chips. The cod was fresh and very easy to eat, whereas I find the seaweed chips idea innovative. Certainly, these seaweed chips were unlike any that I’ve had before, which in Asian grocers what’s typically available is nori variety of seaweed with some seasoning.

To mark the end of “starters” of our tasting menu, we each had a small bowl of bouillabaisse. It was light but flavoursome, and the ingredients within did not point the dish towards the traditional Provençal way of preparing it. Nonetheless, we both enjoyed all that has been served up so far, while I pondered if there was any way I could ask for a couple more gougères. I chickened out from doing so.

Our first “main” course was a curious plate with leek, seaweed, papada and sea urchin. I never quite figured out what papada was, but online search would suggest that it was a jowl or dewlap or some sort? There were curious squares that were firm jelly-like with a hint of horseradish, and fishroe-like spheres which popped in the mouth too. Definitely an unusual combination of ingredients in a single plate. We were still trying to get over the weirdness when our next course arrived.

On each of our plates was brill that has been beautifully cooked, tandoori style, and seasoned with spices with a delicate touch. There was also some kind of root vegetable served together but I didn’t quite catch the name (I really should have requested our waiter to describe the dishes in English rather than braving through my smattering French) but all in all, a dish I’d happily eat a second portion.

The coup de cœur of our evening was the last of the main dishes – spring lamb, prepared 4-ways, served with lamb lettuce, spiced with espellette and freshened up with citrus zest. Each morsel of lamb was succulent and juicy, cooked just right, that I really would love to have more of them. Unfortunately it would have been rude to steal from the boy’s plate, and I was sure that he was plotting to steal from mine at the same time, so the plate was cleared in record time. I still dream of this dish. Really.

Sweets came along next. The first of two was not the kind of combination that I would have thought to work, but it did. Vanilla cream, dehydrated mandarin, and rum-soaked white fungus. Half-way in the making of a Chinese dessert if you ask me, but the rum and cream kept it western.

The meal was coming to an end way faster that I was ready for. To cap the meal, we were served tocino del cielo. Literally, bacon from heaven. Worry not, no pig was harm in the making of this sweet dish. A creative version from Chef Aizpitarte comprised of a meringue-base cookie (akin to macaron cookie) topped with caramel and confit egg yolk. And my, to crack into the yolk and had the content oozing out, that was just, amazing. Sorry, I don’t have another word for it. I want more, more, more! Unfortunately, as the boy had ordered cheese instead of a second sweet, I had to share this with him. He was lucky that I was in mood to play nice.

Overall, I had a lovely evening filled with gastronomic adventures. The meal ended on high note and as you can see, the more I ate, the more I wanted. The restaurant was not just all hype to me. There were a lot of things that I have never tasted prior to this meal, and anyone who knows me knows that I have eaten in a lot of places and I always order something different.

Price-wise, I thought a menu at €55 was good value for money. Sure, there was no option on what we were served, but they did verify at the start in case there’s any food restriction (more in terms of food intolerance rather than catering to picky eaters) that they should be aware of and would try their best to accommodate it. Service was excellent and the staff was friendly.

If only the restaurant is not located quite so far away from where we live… Then again maybe it is a god thing. A closer proximity would only tempt me to dine here more often than I should, and already I have enough trouble keeping away from Pierre Hermé and Sadaharu Aoki that are close to me!

Category: Food & Drink

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