Le Chateaubriand: Has something changed?
Hey Paris diners,
I went to Le Chateaubriand in its heyday (maybe 2011?) and I loved it, had a great time, ate mostly exquisite things, ate one or two courses that were more weird than exquisite, but felt it was honest, interesting, worthwhile.
I have a reservation there for this upcoming Friday but I looked around online and as much as I know the average crowdsource site is pretty useless, I was shocked by how many people really had bad experiences there recently. Did it just get overhyped and now it's experiencing backlash? Or has something in the kitchen changed? There hasn't been a chowhound post about Le Chateaubriand in a while, either. Any recent visits? Would love a report.
Thanks in advance,
(disclaimer; I've not been to Chateaubriand yet)
I think people, in general, expect something different from what Chateaubriand offer.
It is the kind of restaurant where you accept to pay for something that you might not fully like.
(set menu, sometimes weird ingredients combinations,....)
Aizpitarte has always been like the girl with a curl in the middle of her head; brilliant at times, off the wall at others; and I go back to his stints at La Famille and Transversal in the Mac/Val museum.
My last meal at Chateaubriand was disappointing and while Le Dauphin was better, the back-killing stools doomed the place for me.
I would say there are a few reasons:
1. It's fame has attracted more mainstream tourist diners and many of these are traditional and conservative in their taste. But it's reputation is for it's cutting edge food, living a bit dangerously (as John says) with combinations and testing the boundaries. So lots of unhappy tourists. I don't think that is the same as overhyped as if it's the style you like its good.
2. Trends and the fashion changes: Nouvelle, Bistronominique, East/West Fusion, Slow Food, Locavore, Molecular, Real Tapas, Foraged, Ingredient Centric (rather than technique), Korean Fusion, Small Plates (especially if not Spanish), Dude Food etc etc. Thus Chateaubriand is now old fashioned and yesterday's news, especially if they are not serving kimchi Iberico pork sliders on brioche buns at €10 each. So maybe it's off trend.
3. LC has a set menu, LD is ALC and people like more choice. Note: LD ticks the small plate box. And with LC's slightly challenging menu people are more comfortable with the choice at LD as they can pick dishes they like rather than taking a chance on a set menu (Mangeur's point).
Yes, PhilD, I definitely get your point, esp 1-- LC got on some list of the 50 best restaurants in the world (that is the sound of my eyes rolling) and many of the negative reviewers mention this. But I would still expect a sophisticated diner to come away from LC satisfied by the kitchen. A lot of reviewers say, "it's not the service, it's not the location, it's not the absurd rules: the food was not delicious." That's why I was hoping for a report on a recent meal.
Consensus here seems to be that LC has always been hit-or-miss, and now that the hype has subsided, that's become more apparent-- but I would still love to hear someone say, "I ate there in 2011 and recently, and no, the expansion to Dauphin, the obsequious press, rising food costs or exhaustion have not altered the quality of the cooking there."
Not to be ungrateful!-- thanks for all these thoughtful responses.
Phil's points hit the mark.
My first meal at Chateaubriand was a real wow. My last of 4 dinners there (12 to 18 months ago... can't remember exactly but after the world's 50 best label) was hellish... not one course was memorable... and it was made even worse by the constant bickering between diners and waiters at surrounding tables. I vowed never to return. In hindsight, I have also realized that the world (and me too) has continued to evolve since Chateaubriand opened and new restaurants have emerged to provide the same sort of very inventive and affordable cuisine with more consistency and, arguably, more thoughtful culinary ideas. Example one: Bones (in the 11th near métro Voltaire) comes to mind immediately... originally a haunt of the unspeakably hip, Bone's quality creative nosh now attracts a more broad-based clientele amazingly similar to the hip & foodie types that used to pack Chateaubriand before the check-list tourists elbowed them out... and a no-choice menu from a whiz kid chef who seems more able to edit and restrain his whimsies than Aziparte... dinner only and a very hot table so rezzies sometimes difficult... and hurry because the hype around it is has already reached a crescendo. Example 2: David Toutain in the 7th... just a few months old but already my and a few other C'hounder's fave ... and very rave-able... without the hype and world's-50-best checklist tourists.... see http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9292... (especially John Talbott's and Rio Yeti's reviews) and Mitchleeny's post with link to his review in http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/971182
Thanks-- exactly what I was looking for. So you went from a "wow" of a meal to one where "not one course was memorable"-- this suggests that something in the shift of the clientele or the décalage between AIziparte's vision and his consumers' has fed back into the cooking. I feel a bit bad for Aiziparte-- in a sense, it's not his fault that the gyrating trend-wheel has passed him by and he is now essentially out of synch with his own diners. (Meanwhile the cool kids are mad for Toutain and the chef from Bones.) In any event, I do appreciate your response.
Julia, the clientele has indeed changed but I don't think the cooking at Chateaubriand has changed along with it. It was always a turn of the roulette wheel. I was lucky a few times and then I wasn't. Aziparte remains wonderfully experimental and I wouldn't be surprised if my next meal was another wow. But I can't count on it and don't feel at all compelled to take the risks when there are now less risky alternatives.