A la Chataigne

September 23, 2008By Richard HesseArchive

Regional Byways

Seasonal berries with a melon-ribbon bow.

I take real pleasure in seeing a new restaurant open and take off seemingly effortlessly. A la Chataigne opened earlier this year, but when I was there very recently, it felt as if it had been around for decades, with lots of regulars being warmly greeted by the three graces who run it.

The only sign that it’s a recent creation is the trendy gray-beige paint on the wall. Designer paintmakers Farrow & Ball must be making a killing among tyro French restaurateurs. And although this is a Corsican-themed restaurant, there were no ethnic knick-knacks in sight. Corsica is on your plate, not in bunches of dusty Espelette peppers hanging from the ceiling. Another blessing.

The space is long and narrow, but my guest, an inveterate food blogger whose encyclopedic knowledge of Paris restaurants has me green with envy, had phoned ahead, so we had a good, if somewhat squeezed-in, table near the door.

The food was completely unpretentious, but strongly regional and based on excellent produce. We started out with a seriously good pâté de sansonnet, which my dictionary unexpectedly tells me is a starling, a bird I always wrongly associate with Hitchcock’s The Birds because of its habit of congregating in huge flocks (with 200 million starlings in North America alone, there’s an idea for an enterprising hunter/cook here).

I had Corsican ham with a well-chosen melon, which may not sound very adventurous, but I haven’t been lucky in my personal picks of melons this summer, so I was happy to have an expert serve me up a perfect specimen. And the dry-cured ham itself was bursting with regional character.

Then came a simple earthenware casserole of “tripettes,” a Corsican take on tripe, with tomatoes and onions, etc. It was generously served and perfectly cooked, although I did detect a hint of reheating in the potatoes, which tripped a memory of school dinners.

My own choice was called cannelloni, although I don’t for the life of me remember seeing any sheets of pasta, just lots of fragrant tomato sauce over a satisfying “filling” of brocciu, the Corsican version of ricotta, and minced basil – perfect for vegetarians, light as pie and a feast for anyone.

Corsicans are very proud of their chestnuts, hence the restaurant’s name (chataigne = chestnut), so we ended with the signature chestnut pie, which was anything but the cloyingly sweet concoction I feared it might be, and, for my part, a soup of seasonal berries decorated with a very pretty bow of melon ribbon.

The bottle of red Patrimonio we put away was a bit of an extravagance, but the meal was all the better for it.

I can heartily recommend A la Chataigne for its honest take on an excellent regional cuisine. The busy business area it is located in will also give visitors from outside France a lively sense of a bustling off-the-beaten-tourist-track working neighborhood.

Richard Hesse

A la Chataigne: 22, rue de Miromesnil, 75008 Paris. Tel.: 01 40 07 90 86. Métro: Miromesnil. Nearest Vélib’ station: 39, rue Miromesnil, 27, avenue Matignon. Closed Saturday lunch and Sunday. A la carte: Around €40 euros (three courses, not including wine).

© 2008 Paris Update

More reviews of Paris restaurants.

Reader Reaction
Click here to respond to this article (your response may be published on this page and is subject to editing).


What do you think? Send a comment:

Your comment is subject to editing. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe for free!

The Paris Update newsletter will arrive in your inbox every Wednesday, full of the latest Paris news, reviews and insider tips.