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Le Chateaubriand vs. La Regalade


weinoo
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Two restaurants which receive their fair share of hype around the webs are Le Chateaubriand and La Regalade St. Honore. My wife and I recently returned from Paris and had the pleasure to eat at both.

First up, Le Chateaubriand. Now, Le C gets written up all over the place...goog it and see what I mean. On a trip to Paris a few years ago, we ate at chef Iñaki Aizpitarte's La Famille restaurant, and were duly impressed. Me with the food, and Significant Eater with the guys serving it. Chef moved on to open Le C in '06, in an old grocery store in the 11th, and the raves came even faster than before. I mean, THE RAVES. The restaurant is rated #11 in S. Pellegrino's World's 50 Best Restaurants thingie. Number 11? 50 Best? Hmmmm.

Le C has a 5 course tasting menu (at dinner) that everyone gets. That's all they serve, it's 50 euros, and that's that. Our meal started off with gougères and moved quickly into 4 amuse-bouche, this night consisting of a single frog's leg, ceviche liquid served with a cube of avocado in it, salmon eggs with tapioca pearls and beef bouillion served in the style of miso soup. Now, these were okay, but special? Not really. From there, we moved on to what was probably my favorite dish of the night, the salad of scallops with lots of thin slices of vegetables, dressed beautifully and looking like a painting one might see...perhaps a Soutine at the Musee de l'Orangerie...

Chateau 1.JPG

The powder is tamarind powder, and its slightly sweet and sour flavor made this salad literally sing. Next up was a fish course...bar (Mediterranean sea bass), iirc, served with briny clams and broccoli raab....

Chateau 2.JPG

Here's where things started to go a little haywire, as the dish took a long time to come out of the kitchen, and when it finally arrived, it was lukewarm and any evidence of crispy skin on that fillet was long gone.

Following that - a chicken course; this one a yellow chicken (they have all sorts of colors of chicken in France), cooked beautifully but again very slow to arrive from the kitchen...

Chateau 3.JPG

Desserts were to follow, and after about 15 minutes I gently inquired if they were perhaps on the way...I don't think I got a really nice look, and then both desserts showed up at the same time, even though I saw them being served successively at other tables.

So...a top 50 restaurant? Sorry, but not in my book. However, the (sullen) boys are as cute as ever...even S. Pellegrino thinks so..."not to mention one of the best-looking brigades in the business." Enough of a reason to return. For you maybe, but not me.

The next night was Thanksgiving and our last night in Paris. I had reserved a week or so before at the rue Saint-Honoré outpost of the legendary La Régalade, the restaurant in the far out 14th that allegedly begat the whole bistronomic movement. Significant Eater and I ate at that one on our first (or maybe second) trip to Paris a dozen or so years ago, when it was in its heyday. Then a hard table to book, impossibly crowded and utterly delicious. So now, what?

Well, there's much hand wringing on various web sites slash forums populated by all sorts of food loving know-it-alls (including moi, btw). It has tumbled terrifically, they say. For instance, the terrine, which is a help-yourself beauty if ever there was one, is placed on every table at the start of the meal, along with a crock of cornichons and some wonderful bread - but, without plates! Sacré bleu - what's a diner to do? I dunno - but Sig Eater and I made a dent in it, plates be damned - and it went just fine with our coupes of Brut. Or they write that the service has slipped terribly - perhaps the house is looking for ways to save money, mon ami(e)? Friggin' nonsense. We were greeted warmly by the staff, asked if we would prefer to converse in English or French, and taken care of with grace and humor for the rest of the evening. And here's a catch - if you think the "brigade" is cute at Le Chateaubriand, the ladies serving at La Regalade put them to shame.

So, how was the meal? Here's how it started...

La Regalade - Menu.JPG

3 courses for 33 euros, with a blackboard of specials off to the side; the specials do add a supplement to the price, but at 33 euros, really - who's complaining? SE started with scallops, served in their shells, and with scallops served in practically every darn restaurant in Paris, these weren't particularly stand-out-ish, but were fine nonetheless. As an aside, I think the fresh scallops I get at the Union Square Greenmarket in NYC are better than any that I've had in Paris, but...that's just me.

My entree was soupe de potimarron, a pumpkin-like squash which also appears on many menus around town this time of year. This one was spectacular, loaded with crispy lardon and topped with a pair of roasted shrimp. I shared, but didn't really want to...

La Regalade - Soup.JPG

For our plats, SE chose the braised beef cheek, a rich, hulking tender mass of boeuf if ever there was one...

La Regalade - Boeuf.JPG

Since it was Thanksgiving, I wanted something that had wings. So, from the supplemental menu I ordered red partridge, partridge being a bird which I think I may have had once in my life when it was cooked (and delicious) over a fireplace by my friend Judith, of Aroma Cucina fame.

Though this picture doesn't do it justice, the bird was cooked perfectly; the breast tender and juicy and the little legs crispy and just this side of gamey. A revelation for the second time, and Chinatown markets, here I come...

La Regalade - Red Partridge.JPG

Dessert for me was the Grand Marnier soufflé chaud, while Sig opted (as she often does) for the cheese instead. The cheese was merely wonderful; my soufflé was merely (as I posted on one of those know-it-all food boards) textbook...

La Regalade - Souffle_1.jpg

There you have it; though my comparison of these two restaurants will be merely a blip in cyberspace, the arguments and battles and postings and hand-wringing will wager on. For me, La Régalade Saint-Honoré was the better of the two. It's not on the world's 50 best, but it makes my top 10 meals of the year.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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Now back to the food -- and thanks again!

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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Great report, great pics.

I have been to La Régalade and have, I believe, read that attack on it on another website.

Re the terrine without plates:

The terrine is for the bread, a little bonus for the wait before the 1st course arrives.

It is a wonderful generous small touch.

Everyone who comes often to France knows that in bistros, one is expected to put the bread on the table. In smaller starred places like Frenchie, there are no bread plates either.

I know I know, it took me a long time to get used to this, mais bon…

The terrine is not a starter, is not an official pre-first course or whatever.

It is like butter for the bread.

I had never felt the sore need of a bread plate.

To complain about it is really to show an embarrassingly narrow comfort zone.

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Great report, great pics.

I have been to La Régalade and have, I believe, read that attack on it on another website.

Re the terrine without plates:

The terrine is for the bread, a little bonus for the wait before the 1st course arrives.

It is a wonderful generous small touch.

Everyone who comes often to France knows that in bistros, one is expected to put the bread on the table. In smaller starred places like Frenchie, there are no bread plates either.

I know I know, it took me a long time to get used to this, mais bon…

The terrine is not a starter, is not an official pre-first course or whatever.

It is like butter for the bread.

I had never felt the sore need of a bread plate.

To complain about it is really to show an embarrassingly narrow comfort zone.

Exactly, Parigi. And it is often those same people who complain about the service - perhaps because they look all sour about not getting a bread plate!

Thanks for the props, too.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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Great report, great pics.

I have been to La Régalade and have, I believe, read that attack on it on another website.

Re the terrine without plates:

The terrine is for the bread, a little bonus for the wait before the 1st course arrives.

It is a wonderful generous small touch.

Everyone who comes often to France knows that in bistros, one is expected to put the bread on the table. In smaller starred places like Frenchie, there are no bread plates either.

I know I know, it took me a long time to get used to this, mais bon…

The terrine is not a starter, is not an official pre-first course or whatever.

It is like butter for the bread.

I had never felt the sore need of a bread plate.

To complain about it is really to show an embarrassingly narrow comfort zone.

Exactly, Parigi. And it is often those same people who complain about the service - perhaps because they look all sour about not getting a bread plate!

Thanks for the props, too.

Oddly I read into your review that you also found the "no plates" quite odd. But I agree with the comment that it is illustrative of a certain mind set that people find it odd, to me it is (and has been for years) quite common in restaurants. What next will people be asking for knives and forks with charcuterie plates or in tapas bars!

I think I am one of the people who has been "hand wringing" about LR and LRSH. My observation is that there are now a number of reports that mention less than great service, and that correlates with my experience. So I believe it is reasonable to draw peoples attention to this, I will still go but it will cause me to temper my expectations. But without the words of warning it could be annoying for some. Maybe it is only poor on certain days, or certain shifts are less good. Who knows, but there is clearly variation.

Is it "Friggin' nonsense" to say that "the service has slipped terribly" and "perhaps the house is looking for ways to save money"? Well I did have a conversation with Bruno Doucet(chef and owner)in which he told me he didn't hire any more staff because of the cost, and given the price of the food, and the location of LRSH I think it is reasonable to assume they need to keep an eye on costs. So no, not "friggin nonsense" at all.

Le Chateaubriand vs. LRSH is an odd comparison. One is avant garde the other quite solid and traditional. For me the decision between the two depends so much on what I am looking for in a restaurant. After living in Paris for a few years you get a little tired of LRSH style of food (even though this is one of the best examples of the genre). So Chateaubriand represents a refreshing change, something to liven up the palete etc.

I believe it is also good to understand what the "50 best restaurants" list is all about. It is a list put together by professionals, chefs critics etc. And they are looking for restaurants that are pushing the envelope in terms of standards and creativity. So in effect it is more akin to MoMA than the Louvre. The food served in many of the top 50 is experimental and often on the leading edge (and at times falling off) so if that isn't what you are looking for don't use the list as a guide.

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After living in Paris for a few years you get a little tired of LRSH style of food (even though this is one of the best examples of the genre).

Not sure if this is changing, but we had dinner here on Tuesday with a Parisian friend who commented that she could not believe the pork belly (very likely the best I've had) had come out of that kitchen...calamari with squid ink risotto also rather bucked the trend of what I'd assume would be called "LRSH style".

True rye and true bourbon wake delight like any great wine...dignify man as possessing a palate that responds to them and ennoble his soul as shimmering with the response.

DeVoto, The Hour

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Oddly I read into your review that you also found the "no plates" quite odd. But I agree with the comment that it is illustrative of a certain mind set that people find it odd, to me it is (and has been for years) quite common in restaurants. What next will people be asking for knives and forks with charcuterie plates or in tapas bars!

Actually, not at all. I was writing it sarcastically. And, as opposed to Le C, I got new silverware between courses at La Regalade SH...something I find much more important than bread plates in a bistro.

Is it "Friggin' nonsense" to say that "the service has slipped terribly" and "perhaps the house is looking for ways to save money"? Well I did have a conversation with Bruno Doucet(chef and owner)in which he told me he didn't hire any more staff because of the cost, and given the price of the food, and the location of LRSH I think it is reasonable to assume they need to keep an eye on costs. So no, not "friggin nonsense" at all.

I think it is. Let's remember - I'm writing about our experience at the restaurant. There were plenty of staff on hand at Le Chateau - and yet, the service was in no way as friendly and competent as it was at LRSH. But I'm not saying the service must have slipped terribly at Le C. I'm saying that our service experience at Le C left me cold. The knee jerk reaction is to write that the service has slipped terribly.

Le Chateaubriand vs. LRSH is an odd comparison. One is avant garde the other quite solid and traditional. For me the decision between the two depends so much on what I am looking for in a restaurant. After living in Paris for a few years you get a little tired of LRSH style of food (even though this is one of the best examples of the genre). So Chateaubriand represents a refreshing change, something to liven up the palete etc.

Yes, the Mediterranean sea bass and chicken courses were quite a refreshing change. The cheese, too.

I believe it is also good to understand what the "50 best restaurants" list is all about. It is a list put together by professionals, chefs critics etc. And they are looking for restaurants that are pushing the envelope in terms of standards and creativity. So in effect it is more akin to MoMA than the Louvre. The food served in many of the top 50 is experimental and often on the leading edge (and at times falling off) so if that isn't what you are looking for don't use the list as a guide.

Thanks for the explanation. I understand what lists are. In my opinion, Le C doesn't belong at #11 - on any list.

After living in Paris for a few years you get a little tired of LRSH style of food (even though this is one of the best examples of the genre).

Not sure if this is changing, but we had dinner here on Tuesday with a Parisian friend who commented that she could not believe the pork belly (very likely the best I've had) had come out of that kitchen...calamari with squid ink risotto also rather bucked the trend of what I'd assume would be called "LRSH style".

Now you're just throwing another monkey wrench into the whole dissing of La Regalade, KD.... :wink: .

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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