Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Le Chateaubriand

BB's last dinner in Paris while I was around (thats a lie, we went to Breizh the day after) was at Le Chateaubriand. Currently #11 on the 2010 San Pellegrino World's 50 Best Restaurants and luckily for us, with a second seating that is on a first-come first-serve basis aka NO RESERVATIONS (come after 10pm!). Yes I saw the chef, Inaki Aizpitarte (I really do wonder about the origins of his name) although at first I thought the bartender was him (tall lanky french dudes with facial scruff...they all look alike). This was a 5-course for € wonder reservations are hard to come by. And the 5-course was really a more-than-5-course since there were multiple amuse bouches and two desserts. I love amuse bouches, they're so fun!

We started with a plate of poppy seed gourgeres that I, unfortunately, found a little too eggy for my liking, kinda like flan sometimes is. 

The second dish was red caviar enveloped in a think slice of radish. I don't like red caviar and am dealthy allergic to sturgeon (black caviar incubator) so I passed. Apparently it was pretty good, smooth with a briny pop

It was followed by a third one - a poached prawn (shrimp? langoustine?) with a tiny cob of corn. First of all, I don't eat shrimp but I tried this one and it was SO GOOD. Secondly, where did you get the corn?! I've never seen fresh corn in Paris - its always vacuum packed and looks a sickly yellow color underneath the plastic. My first taste of corn this year (but not the last, thank you NYC!) The little green things? Wood sorrel (the name eluded me at dinner). Sour clover-shaped little leaves that I used to pick in the woods when mushroom hunting in Russia. And I digress...

And finally we get to the official first course - Gazpacho with frozen cucumber granita. I loved this. Not only was it visually interesting (red! green! TEXTURES!) but the contrast between the icy granita and the lukewarm liquid gazpacho was like little firecrackers going off in my mouth. Yea, you can envision that.

Next, a sardine feuillette served with fennel and passion fruit powder. Basically, a sardine wrapped in a pastry sheet (kinda looks like a cigar, no? And don't worry,it was filleted). I was afraid there'd be a lot of bones but am surprised I enjoyed this as much as I did. Perhaps it was the passion fruit powder. I love passion fruit and the powder was genius and had this ridiculously intoxicating smell.

Is this where I now made a discovery? We ordered a second bottle of wine, one that BB and I had tried at L'Avant Comptoir. It tasted off but I'm always too shy and scared of sending stuff back, especially wine since I know so little (or...nothing at all!) It just tasted wrong and funny and acidic. So I asked the waiter to try it. He took it and came back with a new bottle because sure enough, that bottle was corked! It's true, once you try a corked wine, you KNOW something is way off. And now I know that I can detect it pretty easily. I was (and still am) quite impressed with myself (yes, being humble does not always seem to be a trait of mine).

Moving on to our third course - Pollock with black olive puree, beet greens, baby carrots and pickled garlic. This was by far my favorite dish of the night. I'm not a fan of olives (or olive bread...thanks for the chips JP ;)) but I love tapenade. And the carrots were fantastic. I stole someone's carrots off their plate later.

Fourth - beef with roasted aubergine, spring onions and shallot relish with ginger and lime. This beef was rare. So rare I only ate around the edges and left the middle for someone else to eat. With the meat, the aubergine (basically, chared eggplant) blends really well. By itself? I felt like i was eating charcoal or ashes.  

And now dessert! I almost forget what this was. The first dish had saffron strawberries with little meringues that tasted like cardboard. I'm not a fan of saffron in sweet dishes. 

The second one was a lait ribot (a fermented milk from Brittany which is somewhat similar to buttermilk) ice cream with stuff I don't remember except for it tasting vaguely minty...I liked the ice cream better than the strawberries.

Definitely a delicious and interesting meal, with great company so a night (and money) well spent. But I don't know if I'd go back again...too many places to try still and this wasn't so amazing that I'd risk another night of a mystery prix-fix menu.

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