Suave, counter dining concept with trademark black and red decor restaurant, serving modern, seductive dishes
There are two Joel Robuchons in Paris, this one south of the river Seine and the Etoile branch near the Arc de Triomphe. Both are the same, suave concept to dine at the counter overlooking the kitchen pass (with some additional and normal tables as well), but the counter represents superb opportunities for anyone wanting a walk in or spontaneous request which can normally be accommodated. It is also one of the few Michelin starred restaurants open on a Sunday in Paris and has its customary formula and signature dishes of Robuchon mash that simply guarantee to please. The a la carte dishes range from €29-89 for starters and mains, but thankfully, everyone gets a portion of the fabled Robuchon mash with each main, such is its signature and bearing in mind it is pretty much 50% potato and 50% butter, the portion size is not a huge bowl. However, I guarantee you that if you have not had this before, you will happily consider another bowl. My spontaneous walk in supper totalled €148 with glass of champagne which was more than the normal ‘drop in’, but I had inadvertently asked for the egg dish that came with white truffle at €60 for that dish alone. All details are at the expansion button as usual, but in general, it was superb to have some old favourites again from the culinary legend brand and the late Joel Robuchon.
Once things were ordered, the espuma amuse bouche arrived with bread and butter offerings to keep busy whilst waiting for the first, selected course of l’oeuf – egg “en cocotte” with cream corn and iberico ham which was wonderfully light and rich at the same time from the perfectly confit egg. This was the upgraded version however with white truffle shavings which, although small in quantity was actually pitched perfectly as the aroma was one of the strongest I have ever experienced and I didn’t even have to lean forward much at all to be hit in the face with the power of the truffle. I recall having to put my nose right up against a truffle in a three Michelin starred restaurant in London and still struggling to gain any form of distinct truffle smell.
I couldn’t resist the signature le foie gras dish which is seared Duck Liver, with a quince gel, shaved stick of apple and almond crumbs on top. I have had seared foie gras with an almond foam as one of the best I have ever had elsewhere and this was a lovely reminder of that and there is no doubt how sumptuous this dish is – the quince giving just enough acidity to balance the inherent fat, along with the apple and almond crumb for texture. The mash on the side needs no further introduction and I genuinely wanted to have another bowl, but I am also trying to regulate my intake these days – wish me luck!
I was sat next to some charming US guests who kindly let me take some snaps of their dishes as they were just so pretty. The mini burgers with foie gras are just superb, which I have had several times in London’s former L’Atelier location and it was also lovely to see the six choices of mini ice creams (€19 for the six) which again, the guests to my left seem to enjoy very much when having a very pleasant chat with them. That is also one of the lovely things that can happen when counter dining – I wasn’t expecting to chat with others or wishing to invade anyone’s discussion, but was a lovely bonus to happen naturally at the bar which, I was all too happy with.
I was also very happy with my signature chocolate dessert entitled le chcolat tentation made with smooth araguani chocolate, cocoa nibs and oréo biscuit. This was as smooth as they come and thankfully not in a huge portion size to tempt overeating. Coffee was served but sadly I had been excluded the petit fours for some reason, which I had to effectively ask permission for and that combined with a couple of poor service episodes meant that the only negative of this meal was not being made to feel truly welcome by the staff – a first for me being a fan of Joel Robuchons, having been to their 3 Michelin starred branches in Hong Kong, Macau and Las Vegas as well as other Ateliers. For clarity, specifics of the poor service included being told at the beginning of the meal that the waiter’s English was not so good, so he ignored the water request instead of trying to find help and interactions of one staff member who seemed utterly frustrated at having to take orders when busy. C’est la vie.
Nevermind, as usual it does not detract the food grade being where I think it deserves to be and these were wonderfully enjoyable dishes; the only lesson from this visit to this Atelier is possibly avoid when very busy and make sure that you can either speak French, spend a lot of money or be very well known to the staff – if you have any of those, I doubt you will have any staffing issues at all. In summary, wonderful and seductive dishes via a winning formula and was superb to be open on a Sunday on a lucky extra day in Paris.
Food Grade: 83%