Image: Conde Nast Traveler
If you live in Paris and like eating out, follow the restaurant scene or, god forbid, call yourself a foodie (please don’t), then you’ve probably heard of Iñaki Aizpitarte’s super popular Le Chateaubriand over in the boho 11th. You’ve probably also tried to get a reservation. And failed.
That’s because this place is so hot right now (please say that like Mugatu). Everybody is fawning over the market fresh, 5 course plus several amuse bouche menu, offered up in a hip bistro setting for a relatively affordable price. It even clocked in at #11 on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants.
So of course I was dying to go. And when I called last week for a reservation, they giggled and said no way. But they let me in on a secret: The last reservation is at 8:30. So if you show up after 9:30 on Saturdays, you can sit at the bar and wait for a table to open up.
And by “sit at the bar and wait for a table” they apparently meant stand in the rain for an hour and a half, wondering how all these people in line are going to fit into the restaurant. We were hoping that the doors would open and everybody would flood in. But that never happened, and at some point one of the wait staff came out and slapped his forehead in amazement. He returned a few minutes later and took a photo.
That didn’t seem promising, but he said if we stayed, we’d eat by 11pm. Several people bailed at that news, so we at least moved up under the awning. We decided to stick it out.
And promptly at 10:50 we were ushered in from the cold and offered a spot at the bar. The place was still hopping, but the staff seemed to be taking it in stride. The French guys in front of us got some champagne and started cracking jokes about people trying to cut in line. All was good.
By 11:15 we were finally sitting, ready to let the gastronomy commence. Our waiter was super friendly and pretty hilarious, which helped make the epic wait time slightly more palatable. Then we got our amuse bouche: some kind of bouillabaisse with tiny fried crab legs, a radish and parmesan salad, a tiny cooked duck heart. (Yes, duck heart. I couldn’t think about what it was as I swallowed, but it tasted like steak.)
The main courses were just as interesting, and if they didn’t blow our minds, we could at least amuse ourselves with the tables on either side: to the left, a foursome of the most uptight preppy young Americans you have ever laid eyes on, complete with navy sport coats and pearls. They complained loudly when the busy waiter wouldn’t call them a cab right away. I wanted to punch them.
On the other side was an increasingly rowdy group of French people. The ringleader seemed to be a middle aged guy who at one point pretended to pee into his carafe of wine, joking that the bathroom line was too long. Hilarious!
But somewhere around the roasted lamb dish, things took a turn for the worse. Funny French guy made a disgusted face and sent his plate back. A bit later he said in disdainful, very loud French that the place was full of Americans. At dessert time, there seemed to be some issue with the cheese plate, and all hell broke loose. Earmuffs, children:
Ce restaurant c’est merde! Absolument boulot de merde! He shouted.
Et le service? Le service! Connards!
Le chef? Il est un con!
It was kind of awesome and horrifying at the same time. The waiter refused to come back to their table. So the manager came over to appease them with discounts and desserts, to no avail. Then the guy had the nerve to order a round of digestifs, take one sip, and send them back. It was absolutely obnoxious.
So of course I leaned over to let him know that I was one of the stupid Americans in the place, and that I spoke enough French to catch his drift.
Quel est le probleme, monsieur? I asked innocently.
He blinked for a minute. “Oh I knew you were American! This place is full of them. The dinner was terrible, terrible! And we waited for hours. You know, when I eat something at a place like this that everyone is talking about, I want an orgasm in my mouth. And I didn’t have an orgasm in my mouth.”
Fair enough. So I asked him where he would recommend eating in Paris.
“Oh, I have no idea. I live in Seattle.”
Of course. Perfect proof that you don’t have to actually be Parisian to totally act like a stereotypical Parisian a**hole.
* * *
Today we’re going to learn some curse words, thanks to our jerkface of a table mate. I’m not totally 100% on the translations, but here’s my vague understanding of their various vulgar meanings. Enjoy!
Definition: You know this one! It’s shit.
2. boulot de merde
Pronunciation: boo-loh de maird
Definition: shitty/crappy job
Definition: stupid bastard, idiot, mother F*er. Not to be confused with canard, which is a duck.
Pronunciation: just make a nasally awh sound after the hard c
Definition: stupid jerk, bloody idiot, a**hole
5. BONUS! I found this one while double checking my definitions and it seemed appropriate:
Il a peté des plombs!
Definition: He blew a gasket! Flipped out! Or literally, He farted lead!