On our first full night in Paris, my colleague Ian - who is a wonderful planner when it comes to finding restaurants - made reservations for us at a little bistro by the name of A la Chataigne. The restaurant features a number of Mediterranean-style dishes on the menu and it sounded interesting to Ian when he found it looking through La Forchette (The Fork) before we came to Paris. By booking the meal through the web site, we were able to save 20% on the cost of the meal.
Chef Yann Rebillard is the man behind A la Chataigne (which translates into "chestnut" in English) and many of his dishes are centered on rustic Corsican recipes. Many of the dishes feature wild game or beef-based items.
Now, Paris really screws up my internal GPS. Streets don't necessarily run north and south, the Seine curves through the city and that affects street plots, and when it's cloudy and rainy - as it was that evening - I can't get a bearing on directions. In what would have been a normal 20 minute walk from our hotel, Ian and I wandered about for over a half hour before stumbling upon A la Chataigne on Rue Miromesnil. (see map)
Our reservations were for 7 p.m. - actually that's quite early to dine for most Parisians. And because of that, we were the only ones in the small restaurant when we got there. We pretty much had our pick of where we wanted to sit. We took a small table along the wall.
As we sat down, the lady who would be our server told us in broken English that their credit card machine was broken and that we'd have to pay in cash. Ian said that he could go get a couple hundred Euros out of an ATM, but he needed to find out where the closest one was. The lady told him that she knew of one a couple blocks away, so Ian set out on his quest for cash.
After returning with money, we got into the meat of the menu to check to see what they were offering that evening. The first thing that I found on the menu was the beef carpaccio. Only this carpaccio was a little different than what I've had in the States. This carpaccio came with a honey balsamic drizzle and strands of an herbed mayonnaise sauce. The taste of the combinations was wonderful. Carpaccio on its own is pretty darned good, but the drizzle and the herbed mayo gave it a little more pizazz.
For my main entree that evening I thought about getting a steak, but then I saw something on the menu (by the way, they did have an English menu for the Anglos) that completely intrigued me - Ox cheeks. Ox cheeks can be difficult to prepare because the meat is so lean that there's always the danger of overcooking it. But these were slow-cooked Ox cheeks in a subtle sauce. They pulled apart pretty easily and the taste was, well... All right, I guess. They seemed to be rather earthy in taste, not anything that I've ever experienced. But I decided that I liked it enough, but not certain I'd order it again if I saw it on the menu. I shared some with Ian - he's had Ox cheeks before - and he said that it was very good as far as Ox cheeks go.
Ian got the veal chop - a massive one, at that. He sort of chuckled when it was set in front of him and he just said, "Oh my!" But he said the flavor and the tenderness of the veal was wonderful. He shared a cut of meat with me and it was very good. The veal chop had sort of a reduction sauce on it that had a bit of a spicy blend to it. Even though I liked my Ox cheeks, I REALLY liked the veal chop.
By the time we were finishing our meal, the place was beginning to fill up. For a little restaurant in Paris, I was happy with my meal at A la Chataigne. I got to open up my culinary horizon a little more, the service was very good and the atmosphere was cozy and homey. I would have no problem giving A la Chataigne a high recommendation to try if you get to Paris.