As in the past, this is not intended as a 'best of ' list in the sense of 'best restaurant in Paris' - I probably can't afford that one anyway - but rather in a more personal, 'this is the best restaurant I ate at in Paris this year' sort of way.
2012 Favorite: Le Chateaubriand.
lait ribot, herbes, beurre noisette and tocino del cielo dessert (2nd photo), 3/4s of which consisted of ingredients that rarely appear on dessert plates. Chateaubriand has its detractors, but who cares? It's to be expected when the chef - in this case, Inaki Aizpitarte - dares to take risks with creative manifestations that do not always work - but hey that's what experimentation is all about, sometimes you just can't reject the null hypothesis. All I know is that I'm always surprised at Chateaubriand, and mostly in a good way, and I love when the place starts building a buzz as the evening unfolds with a diverse mix of diners and laid back bohemian servers. I'm also impressed that those servers never fall through the trap door behind the bar, which curiously remains open for much of the evening (3rd photo). And, yes, Monsieur Aizpitarte does uncannily resemble Joe Flacco, had the latter decided to give up quarterbacking for the Baltimore Ravens and become a famous Parisian chef.
LE CHATEAUBRIAND: 129 ave. Parmentier, 75011 Paris, tel: 01.43.57.45.95
Best New Paris Restaurant Movement: La Dolce Italia.
To be honest, this probably isn't a movement at all, and if it is, it was no doubt underway before I came upon it, but the influx of really good Italian restaurants in the capital is certainly a welcome trend. Two quite enjoyable dinners in 2012 were had at the Italian spots, Caffe dei Cioppi and Vilia. At the latter, the elegantly simple bowl of DeCecco rigatoni and parmesan cheese got me buying DeCecco pasta and parmesan cheese the rest of the year, though not with the same effect. I wouldn't go so far as to call La Gazzetta an Italian restaurant because it is oh so much more, but I can at least mention it here because, after all, this is my blog and I can babble to my heart's content. Seriously, Gazzetta continues to be a personal favorite that I get back to as frequently as possible, for some of the same reasons that keep me returning to Chateaubriand.
Finally, although it has nothing to do with Italy, our return visit (finally) to Septime proved well worth the wait.