I am reluctant to write about le Chateaubriand, arguably the best -- and almost certainly the most exciting -- bistro in Paris, because it is so difficult to get into it. But if you are lucky enough to know someone who knows the rock star chef, Inaki Aizpitartes (as I am) or if you are willing to go to the late, non-reserved seating, which starts in principle at 9:30 (although you are not likely to be seated before 10), then by all means go. You will be rewarded with an extraordinary experience.
Physically, le Chateaubriand is a thoroughly unprepossessing old-style bistro, with tiny tables, neither tablecloths nor placemats, a banal couvert (you keep your implements for most of the meal), no flowers, etc. The food is the opposite: brilliantly creative, well-presented and perfectly executed.
Every day there is a 55-euro menu, which is created based on the market and the inspiration (mood?) of Chef Aizpitartes. Period. No choices, no substitutions (except in case of allergies). One member of our party said he didn’t like offal, a couple of morsels of which were included in the lamb mélange; too bad (he ate them without incident).
|Mushroom with Squid Ink|
Lamb Many Ways and Egg Yolk with Camomile Dessert
Anyway, you get the picture. It's not for nothing that le Chateaubriand is rated 15th by The World's 50 Best Restaurants, second after l'Atelier de Joel Robuchon among French restaurants. Although the list is silly, the esteem in which this neo-bistro is held is not.
Le Chateaubriand, 129 avenue Parmentier, 75011 Paris (Métro Goncourt).