It isn’t you, it’s me.
Don’t get me wrong. I understand why many people love Le Chateaubriand, and there are many things that I like about it myself.
I like the minimal, retro room, with a real or faux patina (I’m not sure which, and I don’t care). I like the waiters who are generally professional, efficient and, quite frankly, hot. I like the hip wine list. I like the price – 45 euros for a five course meal. I like the fact that you can show up late in the evening, and if you are willing to wait a little while, get a table without a reservation.
I also like the way Inaki Aizpitarte’s food looks. The colors are odd and bold and there’s something painterly about the presentation, many plates looking like still lifes or botanical illustrations of spindly leaves and rare roots, completely natural and unnatural at the same time.
There’s a lightness to this food that I appreciate, particularly in summer. And I like the way the ingredients retain their integrity. There’s no smoke and mirrors here.
Smoke and mirrors, no. Smoke and pickles, yes: A charred eggplant purée has figured into every meal I’ve had here, most recently brushed on the plate (speaking of painting) in a thick stroke, under a piece of crisp skinned mackerel with a few pieces of fresh corn stripped from the cob.
Another dish that night was called “Beef and Pickles” on the menu and it was… beef and pickles. Specifically, deep pink, nearly-raw slices of beef bathed in a bright marinade, hiding under a crisp sheet of radish with a scattering of beets, carrots, more radish, and (superfluous) shavings of summer truffle.
That dish was my favorite of the night, except for maybe the glace of lait ribot that followed with a pile of sweet herbs and a bowl of strawberries.
As fun as all of this food looks and sounds, the end result can be oddly austere and occasionally jarring. Though I find some dishes to be surprisingly, weirdly good, I find others to be just weird, and not particularly delicious.
Listen, this is harder for me than it is for you. Like I said, there’s plenty that I like about Le Chateaubriand. But at the end of the day we may just want different things.
I hope we can still be friends.
Le Chateaubriand 129 avenue Parmentier, Paris 75011 +33 (0)1 43 57 45 95
Find more reviews and information about Le Chateubriand at Paris by Mouth.