If you consider yourself a “foodie traveler” you’ve probably heard of Le Chateaubriand. This small eatery in Paris is consistently ranked as one of the world’s best restaurants and the chef, Inaki Aizpitarte, is known for his innovative and modern twist on French cuisine. The small and unassuming dining room isn’t much to look at, but there is a stark difference between the simple decor and Aizpitarte’s bold dishes. Reservations are accepted exactly two weeks in advance and only for the first dinner seating. If you’re not lucky enough to grab one of the few coveted reservations, you can stand in line outside the restaurant for the second seating starting at 9:30 p.m.
As expected, we were unable to reserve one of the handful of tables, which meant that our only option was standing in line hoping to obtain a table for the second seating. I was hesitant to waste several hours in line when I had limited time in Paris, but the restaurant came highly recommended by close friends who work Chateaubriand into their itinerary on every trip to France. Besides the glowing recommendations, the $60 Euro ($80 USD) per person price tag was a steal for a multi-course gourmet meal in Paris.
We arrived at Chateaubriand before 8:00 p.m. and found ourselves second in line with only one couple before us. Luckily, Aizpitarte opened a sister restaurant next door called La Dauphine which let us order wine at their bar and (discreetly) sip our beverages while waiting outside.
Some time before 10:00 p.m. it was finally our turn to be seated! It was quickly explained to us that there is no written menu, and that the only option is the fixed degustation menu unless you disclosed a particular food allergy. Because the menu wasn’t memorialized in writing, the descriptions of the food served are based upon my novice opinion of what I saw and tasted. (This is a travel blog and not a foodie blog, after all…). The waiters placed each course on our tables with little fanfare and quickly rattled off a description with a heavy french accent, which meant that we were typically only able to catch a few keywords. But, for me, the element of surprise only added to this dining experience.
The first amuse bouche was gougères with poppy seeds. For the unaquainted, these delicious little pastry bites were more or less cheese puffs. The french know their pastries, and they were superb.
The second was a cilantro ceviche shot.
The third course was tiny fried prawns topped with some sort of raspberry powder. You popped these puppies in your mouth like popcorn, head and all. Generally speaking, this course was the table’s least favorite and was compared to “fruity seafood pork rinds.”
Next came a course of raw tuna with tomato and fried artichokes.
The fifth course was a cup of celeriac soup with a coffee bean. Oddly, the celery and coffee tastes worked together well.
The sixth course may have been my absolute favorite – white asparagus filet with seaweed which was complimented with a creamy pepper sauce. Typically, I’m not a fan of seaweed, but it worked well on this dish. The citrisy grapefruit cut through the creamy sauce and brought all the unique flavors together.
Next up was a peppery beef with spinach and crimini mushrooms.
The last entree course was another crowd pleaser – guinea fowl with peas and white strawberries topped with thinly sliced prosciutto. Prior to this dinner, I had never even heard of white strawberries, but the hint of sweet perfectly balanced out the salty prosciutto.
To finish, we had a choice between a cheese plate, or an actual dessert. I opted for the cheese (which was A-mazing), while my husband went with the dessert.
He was treated to a yogurt dish with edible flowers and a “one bite cake.” The latter consisted of deconstructed cake ingredients, which didn’t look like much, but miraculously tasted like a delicious baked cake when eaten in one bite.
I throughally enjoyed our evening at Le Chateaubriand, which was easily my favorite meal in Paris. If you’re an open-minded, adventurous eater who enjoys innovative dishes, I would put this on your “must do” list for your next trip to Paris. That said, if you’re unable to get a reservation, I would recommend that you get to the restaurant and stand in line well before the second seating starts at 9:30 p.m. Although we didn’t have to wait too long once the second service began, the couple directly behind us in line didn’t get seated until nearly 11:00 p.m.
Address: 129 Avenue Parmentier, 75011
Nearest transport: Goncourt (11)
Reservations: Not accepted until two weeks in advance. Dinner only, closed Sunday and Monday.