A little background: A former stonemason and gardener, whose family hails from the Basque country, Inaki Aizpitarte seems an unlikely candidate to spearhead a mini-revolution in the Parisian restaurant scene. The chef opened Le Chateaubriand in 2006 and soon became a leading figure in what has been dubbed the city’s ‘bistronomie’ movement, which saw a new generation of bistros abandon starched tablecloths and uptight service in favour of a more relaxed approach, with affordable prices to match.
Aizpitarte’s colourful history and brooding manner have seen him portrayed as a radical and rock ’n’ roll chef – an image that has helped give him an international profile and made Le Chateaubriand one of the hottest restaurants in Paris.
The no-frills dining room mixes white walls and simple furniture, while the fixed €70 menu which changes daily is written on a large blackboard. It blends French, Asian and even Latin American culinary influences, kicking off with a succession of small plates, followed by three larger courses.
My visit: Out of all the restaurants I have booked for Paris, Le Chateaubriand intrigued me the most as it is a simple bistro, reasonably priced, that is consistently ranked higher than many other Michelin-starred establishments such as L’Atelier De Joël Robuchon, Pierre Gagnaire, Alain Ducasse Au Plaza Athénée and Hong Kong’s very own Amber in the S.Pellegrino World’s Best Restaurant lists. No doubt I walked into Le Chateaubriand with very high expectations.
We were treated to a selection of amuse bouche; the first being the gougères with poppy seeds. Filled with gruyère, these cheesy pastries were warm, pillowy and tasty.
Next up were the ceviche shooters which sadly I forgot to take a photo of. The chilled shot was refreshing with a great kick of citrusy flavor.
The tempura veal brain was delicious. The batter was light and crisp and the veal brain had an amazing melting, mousse-like texture. The plum powder added the perfect amount of acidity to cut through the richness.
This was followed by the sea urchin with cauliflower which was overpowered by the strong flavors of feta cheese and smoked cream.
The roasted celery soup was interesting as it was made with passion fruit stock. The soup had an amazing aroma and was notably tarty. I would have preferred it without the seeds though.
The squid risotto was disappointing. Although the squid was cooked perfectly, I could not bite through the sage ham. The risotto also had a grainy sandy texture. I had to leave most of it on the plate.
The pollock was cooked beautifully – delicate and flakey in texture. I loved how they used pomelo instead of lemon which gave lightness without getting the sourness.
Our last entree was the veal cheek. It was seasoned perfectly and the artichoke chips added great texture. The downside was that the meat was a bit too dry and the diners sitting at the table next to us had the same problem.
The cheese was of good quality but nothing exceptional.
The pumpkin dessert was sublime. Hokkaido squash ice cream, layer of blood orange, nutmeg, foam of muscadet and a disc of meringue. It was light, sweet and velvety.
And finally, the Tocino del Cielo, Chef Aizpitarte’s signature dessert. An Andalusian custard of candied egg yolk, caramelized sugar and chewy almond meringue. It was borderline savory and the egg yolk was still runny. Not a dessert that I loved but it certainly made me think.
To end the meal, slices of kiwi rubbed in Pan Masala that tasted more like potpourri!
Verdict: I felt a bit let down considering Le Chateaubriand is ranked number 21 in the world and at one point number 9. Don’t get me wrong, there were some great dishes, and the service was equally as par, but in comparison to other restaurants that I’ve dined in Paris, Le Chateaubriand was just mediocre, if not a notch above your average.
Happy eating 🙂
129 Avenue Parmentier, 75011, Paris
+33 1 43 57 45 95