Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Chateaubriand Redux





I've never been a huge fan of Inaki Aizpitarte's Chateaubriand. Maybe it's all the media hype surrounding this bad-boy Basque, a rogueishly handsome, perpetually unshaven lady killer of a cuistot. Maybe I'm jealous of all the attention he gets variously from the top food and travel magazines, as well as a legion of hot young foodies. My friend and fellow chef/food blogger extraordinaire once told me, "I don't know what all the fuss is about- it's nothing special, just n'importe quoi" . Another friend Trish, who profiled him for a top French food mag thinks he's sex on a stick. Most girls do. I swear when he pops out of the kitchen you can almost hear the panties drop.

Well, all this hype has sort of muddied the water a little, making people expect something on the level of El Bulli I have the impression. All the fashionistas and gastro-tourists arriving for dinner last night had a similar look on their face, "Is this it?" One bobo type style editor girl got into a heated argument with the head waiter because they took more than 4 seconds to find her reservation. He couldn't give toss. I expect he gets it every day. Too much press buzz giving an impression of something else.

Anyway, last night I got it. A 45€ , five course menu with very decent food is a good deal:Amuse bouche of marscapone, crab and pissenlit, Bouillon with mushrooms, radishes , foie gras and various crunchy peanuty things floating around, lieu jaune with mashed purple tomatoes and raw, thinly sliced cauliflower, Lamb from Hugo (a bit too chewy), with carrots, agrumes and "carri", and a pear crumble/yoghurt dessert with caviar like little yuzu pearls. Cheese (coulommiers, "young" gorgonzola and chevre) was very decent.

So, despite previous misgivings, I've been won over for a simple, slightly creative cuisine at good prices. And it really was fun observing all those stupidly dressed fashionidiots waiting for my table in desperation at the standing room only bar, while I slowly sipped a last glass of chilled bubbly ;)

14 comments:

Luxeat said...

Nice review.. I still don't understand "what's the fuss" about it..

Adrian said...

Me too- it's not expensive and a little edgy and creative. Ten years ago-hmm, now- not so hmm.

Christophe said...

Looking at the size of the portions you must have been starving after that! Looks nice though!

Adrian said...

The portions were bigger than they look- and I know you know what I mean... ;)

Amy said...

You've convinced me to try it, and not because of the food.

Amy said...

Your description of the chef has made me curious.

Badaude said...

I haven't eaten at Chateaubriand for a while but I've always had a good experience, maybe because I've mostly eaten there at lunch and only once in the evening. At lunch you get the same food (if you don't mind the no-choice menu) MUCH cheaper and no fashion pack and (Amy?) you get the same chef and identikit-gorgeous staff for no extra fee.

Mr London Street said...

I tried and failed to like Chateaubriand. Oddly I wrote a blog post about it too. Tiny, tiny portions.

Adrian said...

*Deep bows* before Your excellent Nookie Ocelot-ness!

Misha Govshteyn said...

Food at this level is a deeply personal affair, which explains why people either love or hate Le Chateaubriand. My favorite meals so far have been at Manresa, Sportsman, Noma and a handful of amazing restaurants in Japan. Strip away the fancy canapé service and overbearing attention from the servers and Le Chateaubriand easily joins their ranks because they follow a common theme - pristine produce and high quality proteins cooked with respect for ingredients. One of the things Inaki does very well is introduce texture variations without cluttering his dishes with new ingredients. Some may appear raw, some lightly cooked, others compressed or marinated with a touch of acid. It's not for everyone, but it really works for me.

In contrast my meal at L'Arpege left me largely unmoved (both the ingredients and apathetic cooking) and I found Pierre Gagnaire food mostly contrived and at times inedible. Michelin and media celebrated Cyrus in California falls in this category as well. I don't consider them to be bad restaurants - all have incredibly skilled chefs, just restaurants that do not work for me.

Anonymous said...

Your first instincts were correct. Wanted to love the place; was sorely disappointed and unimpressed. And the only meal I've had in Paris that I left a little hungry.

S Lloyd said...

I finally made it there about 2 months ago (a quick 3 days travel to Paris from Canada).
I too got caught in the huge buzz around it, but I am fine with that: buzz does not mean the place is bad, just means people are talking a lot about it. First things first: it was packed on that night I was there, so the marketting behing it deserves the highest praises. I'll start with the positive points:
(1)honestly, not a rip off at this price. (2)Had a little chit chat with the Chef. He will mark some of his patrons memories (unique, cool,rebel,different, funny, intriguing). Now the downsides: this type of new bistro trend (laid back, cool looking, buzzing ambience, modern/creative looking relatively simple and affordable dishes )... well, there are hundreds like this opening doors around North America, Europe.
I did not review each of the food items since we were a bunch of friends there with sole purpose to enjoy some good time and not bother with food analysis, but what I gathered from the food I've sampled was that it came in cool presentations, turned around the latest widly spread cool new bistro concepts we see a bit everywhere (they do it with a bit more elegance, talent --than the average -- I shall confess ),
but was by no means what I would expect in the top 15 of S Pellegrino's best tables of the world.

Carla said...

We were at Chateaubriand last saturday.
I still don't understand "what's the fuss" about it.. The food was okay, but no more than that and the ambiance is lousy.

Buy Cialis said...

all in the food pictures in the post look so delicious, specially the last one, what is that? I can't read so well without my lens.