Another evening in Paris, another indulgent dinner! For our Saturday night meal we headed to Le Chateaubriand for an evening of French gastronomy. With promises of an unforgettable tasting menu using seasonal ingredients and traditional Parisian flavours with an inventive twist I was sure to secure a reservation two weeks in advance. We were a little early so popped next door into Le Dauphin (another Iñaki Aizpitarte institution but serving tapas) for a quick gin and tonic. I'd definitely like to eat here in the future if my experience of Le Chateaubriand is anything to go by.
I'm not a fussy eater by any stretch of the imagination so tasting menus don't faze me too much but there are a few foods I really dislike i.e. mushrooms. Fortunately a quick scan of the menu assured me that there were none present... When Steve and I were in Helsinki a few months ago we dined at Olo (another tasting menu only restaurant) and to my distaste one course consisted of mushroom soup! Anyway, back to Paris, we were presented with a 20 page wine list, I did my normal thing of asking for something dry around €30 and was presented with a lovely bottle. A shame I didn't catch the name as they whipped it away and poured the contents into a carafe before I could click my camera.
The restaurant itself is lovely, with a 1920s bistro vibe and a relaxed atmosphere which worked well for us as we didn't have time to change before dinner so arrived in our trainers and rucksacks... This theme was carried throughout all our Parisian dinners, despite expensive bills I never felt out of place which is something the high end restaurant scene in London doesn't quite master. With a €70 tasting menu the restaurant never felt stuffy and it's reasons like this why I enjoy eating out in Paris so much.
Lets talk food, the best thing about tasting menus is the fact you always end up with way more food than you imagined. With a series of amuse bouche, starters, fish courses, mains, pre desserts, desserts and petite fours we were spoilt rotten with options.
First up were the cheese puffs, 2 each. These were light with a distinct taste of cheddar but not overpoweringly cheesy. A simple dish but something to slowly awaken the taste buds.
Quickly following the cheese puffs was a one shot portion of ceviche, delightfully sour and tangy I could have drunk an awful lot more.
The veal tempura was an interesting dish, I'm not the hugest fan of veal as the texture is so tender it's almost like you're not even eating meat but despite the strange texture these were tasty and the peppery pink powder added a little heat.
A turnip cake covered in clams was an interesting concept on the Chinese dish. This tasted like the sea (in a good way) with the salty clams and finely ground breadcrumbs representing sand.
For our final amuse bouche this murky looking soup was in fact a heavenly bowl of steaming hot pomegranate soup, so incredibly moorish and sweet this was best drunk without a spoon.
On the way to the toilet I spied the kitchen so quickly took a photo of the first fish course being prepared, a salad of raw mackerel, sage and artichoke. Whilst I'm not a huge pan of mackerel under normal circumstances the raw fish was a delight.
The cod, grapefruit and spinach was heaven, the grapefruit was delicate yet juicy giving the dish a tangy sweetness. The cod was perfectly tender and the spinach was cooked to perfection which is a rare feat as it's often watery and bland. This was definitely one of my favourite plates of the evening.
The main course was veal in a creamy white sauce and despite my aversion to the meat this tasted sublime. The white wine and cream based froth was filled with delicate onions and I would have happily slurped this up without any meat present. Definitely my favourite course of the night!
The first dessert, Mont Blanc, was an interesting one to say the least. A thin layer of meringue on top of a light and airy foam with a very subtle flavour. I took a bite and thought 'this is nice but why can I taste mushroom'. I took a second bite and thought the mushroom taste must be in my head. I had a poke around and just before I took my third bite I realised there was a very thin slither of mushroom at the bottom of the plate. Of course it was meant to be there but I had to poke it out (see my earlier point about mushroom hatred). Once removed I couldn't taste the offending vegetable but this really was a strange dessert, not actually tasting of much, nevertheless after a lot of previously strong flavours the lightness was welcomed.
The tocino de cielo (bacon from heaven in Spanish...) is somewhat of a classic at Le Chateaubriand. An egg yolk on an 'egg shell' meringue base covered in ground almond, you take this in one bite and the sweet egg explodes in your mouth, quite the sensation!
Petite fours consisted of a slice of kiwi covered in sugar seeds, a refreshing end to a wonderfully inventive meal. I missed a little chocolate at the end and apart from the hidden mushroom I thoroughly enjoyed the Chateaubriand experience. Yes it was on the expensive side but if you consider yourself adventurous when it comes to food and enjoy an unusual dining experience then you really ought to seek out Le Chateaubriand next time you're in Paris.