PRICE PAID: $316 PP (LIST PRICE- PRE-CHALLENGE)
FINAL SCORE: 7.0/10
Nestled in a very pretty corner of the very sad, prostitute-laden Bois de Boulogne sits the castle-like Pre Catelan.
Frédéric Anton has run the place since 1997; prior to that, he was a head chef in the Robuchon empire. Le Pre Catelan has held two stars since 2000 and got their third in 2007, putting them on the youngish end of the spectrum for French restaurants that hold three stars.
With an exterior I can only call "Lordly," and "Indifferent to its Surroundings," the restaurant hulks silently in the extremely drab woods to the West of Paris known primarily for its criminal activity. As the Uber vehicle took me down the driveway, a hooker with broken heels and hole-filled stockings stood at the end and stared listlessly ahead. I have never been to a more surreal and dislikable space, but was willing to be open-minded about the meal.
Uh oh, it looks like someone has discovered the joys of branding their butter. I haven't seen a move quite this hokey yet, but I suppose there's a first time for everything. I'd love to have been in the staff meeting where someone floated this idea:
"Guests will see the butter, and they'll be like, 'Holy shit, I'm at the Pre Catelan right now.' And we'll be all, 'Your mind is blown right now, right brah?" And then, profit."
First out of the gates- a surprisingly bland-looking vegetable soup. It was light and fairly refreshing, but not much of a start. The culinary equivalent of a limp-spaghetti handshake. 6/10.
Laced with some pretty attractive curry tones, this crab soup was a much stronger opening statement. What can only be described as an enormous quantity of caviar flanked the dish, and offset the creaminess with a zingy salinity that was more than welcome. Unlike most caviar, this comes from France; an interesting statement about the precedence of things French. 9/10.
Served with a foie gras cream and a pretty ludicrous number of gold flakes, this lobster ravioli was as decadent as it was pretty. 9/10.
A really impressive and colorful presentation of cod with algae. Came with a side of some of the best mashed potatoes I've ever had. The fish almost pops open. This was a really outstanding seafood dish. 10/10.
If you've ever dined in Cajun Country, most Louisiana restaurants worth their salt will offer some kind of plate called a "heart attack special." This was Le Pre Catelan's Heart Attack special. I literally could not believe how much of this course was fried in heavy oil, and most of it is some heavy-duty stuff to begin with. Veal, sweetbreads, fried onions... While fairly tasty, I have to be honest: I didn't want to finish. 5/10.
Some pretty excellent cheeses came next- to the left is a "Pays Basque," which is neutral but pleasant, exhibiting some decent Gouda flavors. To the right- a cheese called "La Langue"- has a rose flavor to it. It is made from cows milk from Champagne and Burgundy, and has a wonderful spectrum of flavor. 9/10.
This white fluffy guy has surprisingly strong balsamic flavors, with what is essentially ice cream on the inside. Charming. 8/10.
Finally, three small desserts on a plate. The one all the way on the left is super nutty; the second has strong coconut flavors, and the third is awesome and extremely strawberry-y. I notice that Anton can't help but spread a bit more gold leaf on the last one. 8/10.
An uneven meal, with some pretty fantastic wins (the cod) and some pretty memorable overreaches (the veal).