Friday, 20 January 2012

Le Chateaubriand

So the 9th best restaurant in the world, it's hard not to be both attracted and repelled by labels such as these. I understand it's difficult to get a table, like most of the trendy Parisian places the first sitting is booked out, but if you come about 10ish you can probably get a seat. I sat in the corner at the bar, some people would have disliked the table, but I quite like have the whole room to look at, and I was on my own.

There's one menu it's 55 euros or 115 with wine (quite a lot of wine). 

Obviously I went with wine.

I started with a glass of sparkling Gamay (though they did tell me it was a Cab Franc) called Moisson Rouge, this was a little bit of an error, because from then on the glasses and dishes came pretty thick and fast.

First was a dry Vouvray, which was apparently a mistake by the (very beautiful) Spanish bartender, so it was swiftly joined by a glass of natural sparkling Vouvray - the 'You are happy' C. Chaussard, and a glass of slightly oxidative Assyrtiko (Pyrgos 06, H. Hatzidakis).

The bouches with which I was amused were three little cheesy bread thingies. 
A mini bowl of ceviche with a rather fab chunk of mackerel (I think) hidden within. 

Tempura Shrimp dusted with tamarind powder, there was an amusingly Proustian moment with the shrimp as the first thing they brought to mind was Scampi fries, though to my mind that's far from a bad thing.

A thin slice of (a very large) beetroot with powdered goats cheese and little splodges of chicken liver parfait. At this point I actually asked what the variety of beetroot was as it was larger than any beetroot I'd seen before, however the waiter assured me that it was just a normal beetroot. Evidently French beetroot grow much larger than English ones. When I get round to it I'm going to look into the possible implications of beetroot envy.
The last bouche was a bouillon de courge (squash), though it was actually very meaty, with two pieces of raw? turnip? and a couple of slivers of very intensely flavoured meat in the bottom.

Onto the actual dishes, mackerel with cauliflower, celery and lychee, was RAW, very sexy raw mind, the florets having been rolled in finely chopped parsley and celery tops, the mackerel was needless to say stunningly fresh and beautiful. It was served with Yvon Metras, Ultime 2010, Fleurie. One of the gang of five natural Beaujolais boys it was, as expected, all about floral cherry scented lithe crisp Gamay goodness.

John Dory, baby leeks, onions and herbs was a little love letter to the allium family, obviously the herbs were chives, I could have drunk the best part of a pint of the light green sauce. I will leave it at that. Oh and the 09 Puligny-Montrachet from F.Cossart that it came with was great, Normandy apple tart like notes, some lovely biscuit leesiness and what the French would probably call puissance.

Up till this point everything had been outstanding.

Iberico pork with raddichio and citrus. I’ve never really understood the point of kumquats, yes I appreciate the humorous potential of the name, but they always seem to be a bit extraneous. Similarly extraneous was the delicate curry spicing about the pork. (Grotte di alte, Nero d’Avola/Frappato Occhipinti)

If you look at the history of French cuisine, the boldest intellectual leap was to make a break with the pan European middle ages style of spiced and curried dishes. Early luminaries such as Nicolas de Bonnefond stressed that food should taste of its primary ingredient; a soup of leeks for instance should taste of leeks. Prior to this thematic schism the cuisine across Europe had been much closer to what we’d probably identify as Persian. I don’t think that classical French cuisine has ever really re learnt how to deal with curry style spicing, it always seems to stick out like a sore thumb, never being used in a bold enough fashion to actually satisfy, but being there just enough to titillate and annoy.

The first pudding was clementine with a white mushroom and a rum/vanilla cream. The mushroom part was very odd, I really wasn’t sure whether I found it interesting or upsetting. Obviously this is a fascinating dilemma to be confronted with, however I prefer not to wrestle with it at the end of my dinner.

Tocino del Cielo, the classic Spanish dessert, came as a sugar confit egg yolk on top of a mini piece of pastry. I cannot get enough of sugar confit egg yolks, it was properly fab. There was a glass of Fidele, a Blanc de Noir Champagne from Vouette & Sorbee, of which my tasting note was the eloquent and poetic ‘FUCK YES’ read of this what you will.

Le Chateaubriand was excellent, though thinking of it along side meals that I’ve enjoyed at the Ledbury or Roganic I can’t quite justify its acclaim. The wholly natural wine list is fabulous and obviously has been as inspirational and provocative as they probably hoped. 

A final Indian note came with the petit four which was a single piece of mango with a few of the little candied fennel seeds that you sometimes find served after meals in India.


Donald Edwards said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pavel said...

Great review!

Deika Elmi said...

Hey Donald,
you didn't say anything about the Sicilian natural wine you had with one of the entrèes. As it's one of the wines I am curious about, what did you think of it?
Btw as you are in Paris have you looked up James, that young Aussie chef we met in Portugal, I believe he worked at a restaurant called Spring where they serve natural wines as well. Cheers, Dea.

Donald Edwards said...

Hi Dea,

I caught up with James, he's now at a place called au passage in the 10th. v good it is too.

I didn't say much about the Sicilian wine as I'd written so much about the dish and I was concerned about th e length of the post, it was very excellent, similar in weight to the Azienda COS cerasula di vittoria, though more dark fruit in the aromatic spectrum. It was very good though

Forest said...

i do have to agree with it alongside Roganic. Although (and i can't remember exactly - it's been a good few months since I ate at Roganic) but i seem to remember paying around 100 pounds for lunch (that could be an inflated memory - not 100% positive) but even if it was 100 Euros - it's just slightly under what i paid for dinner at Chateaubriand w/ wine. And, I always kind of expect lunch to be less expensive than dinner. Not that price is always a determining factor of quality - but I'm just thinking that if - as memory serves - Roganic is a bit more expensive, I expect it to amp up the quality (or, well, creativity?) a bit. Although the cost was also an issue of ordering copious amounts of wine at Roganic because I don't think they have a wine paired menu. So, maybe that's a pointless point. Regardless, i have really enjoyed meals at both.