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Aug 15, 2006 09:20 PM

How is L'atelier de Joel Robuchon?

I'm from L.A. and visiting first week in October. I'm anxious to try l'atelier de Joel Robuchon. Anyone try it? How is it, and what's really good on the menu?

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  1. I went to L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon last week in Las Vegas for dinner. The three of us had the 9-course tasting menu and ate at the bar. We loved it. I am going to the NYC one tomorrow and will let you know how it is and if the menu is similar or different.

    1. Okay, I just came back from L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon. My husband and I had dinner last week at the L'Atelier in Vegas. We both had the tasting menu and enjoyed it so much that I wanted to try the one in NY.

      The NY location hasn't officially opened yet. Right now they are doing a soft tasting/trial run until it officially opens around Labor Day weekend. They are not taking reservations now but you can walk in for lunch and dinner. They are taking reservations for early September at this time. The restaurant is located in the Four Seasons Hotel upstairs, where 57/57 used to be. There are 20 seats at the bar and about 30 seats in the surrounding tables. My friend and I ate at the bar.

      There were two different lunch tasting menus. One had two appetizers and a main course plus dessert for $60. The other had a few more courses and I believe it was around $160. Since both menus had similar dishes that I had last week at the Vegas location, my friend and I decided to order off the a la carte menu. The left side of the menu has the small plates. The right side of the menu has large, entree sized portions. We ordered everything from the small plates. This is what we had and shared:

      1) Les Huitres de Kumamoto pochee dans leurs coquilles au beurre sale - Poached baby kumamoto oysters with French "echire" salted butter.

      This dish was heaven. The warm oysters were fresh and one of our favorite dishes.

      2) La Caille Farcie de Foie Gras et Camelisee et pomme puree truffee - Free-range quail stuffed w/foie gras and truffled mashed potatoes.

      Unlike last week in Vegas, this was served with sliced truffles over the mashed potatoes. Outstanding!

      3) La Morue Fraiche en imprime d'herbes aux sucs de legumes et basilic - Fresh cod fillet in a vegetable broth.

      This dish was so light and flavorful. I forget what the cod was wrapped in, but it was a very thin layer which made the presentation absolutely beautiful.

      4) L'Agneau en caree dore a la fleur de thym - Roasted rack of lamb with fresh thyme.

      The lamb slices were perfect. It was so tender, like butter. It wasn't gamey at all. We were fighting for the last bites. It was served with a little, thinly sliced, rolled eggplant.

      5) La Crabe en rouelles d'avocat a l'huile epicee - avocado slices, seasoned crabmeat and a mild spicy oil.

      This was another Napoleon stacked wonder of thinly sliced avocado and crabmeat. It was so delicious.

      6) We had another dish. I don't remember the name of it but it was lobster ravioli which was presented in layers, sort of like a thinly sliced sandwich.

      We also ordered two desserts and I can't even begin to describe it. One was a chocolate plate that had bits of ice cream, ground pistachio, hazelnuts (I believe), and a molten chocolate cake. There were other parts to this but I don't know what the correct name and description is.

      The other dessert was also wonderful but baffling. It was described as some sort of violet dessert which had a sugar ball in the center which looked like a large, shiny pearl the size of a baseball. We weren't sure if we were supposed to eat it but the waiter assured us that we did. We cracked it open and there was an ice cream type filling and lychee. It was indescribable. There were jellies and sauces surrounding this large edible sugar pearl in the large bowl.

      Six plates, two desserts and 3 drinks. Our bill was about $260 including tax and 20-25% tip.

      We really enjoyed the casualness and elegance of the restaurant. The food was truly outstanding. I think it will be awhile until I eat here again but I will definitely be back if I can get in! I loved the sushi bar feel while dining and having the waitstaff bring our dishes in front of us so they could describe what everything was when they presented it to us from the bar. We also enjoyed watching them prepare all the meals in the open air kitchen - oohing and aahing with other diners at meals being prepared. The restaurant is decorated with blonde wood and black placemats. The food and decor appear to be Japanese influenced. I would love to hear other reviews from other Chowhounders!

      1 Reply
      1. re: sfslinky

        That really is good value, when you consider Masa at about $400 per person. Great review and I can't wait to go myself.

      2. Thanks for the review ... I'm looking forward to being there!

        1. You're welcome. Give them a call and see if you can make reservations for October, when you are in town. Get a seat at the bar!

          1 Reply
          1. re: sfslinky

            Just want to note that after the break-in period, diners will be able to make reservations for the tables at all times; however, reservations for the bar will only be accepted for the first seating at 6 p.m. After that, bar seating will be first come, first served.

          2. I went last night to L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon at the Four Seasons, and overall, was very disappointed. Perhaps my expectations were too high, but my friends in Paris and those who have been to the one in Las Vegas had raved about the food. Perhaps also I had ordered the wrong dishes, but there were other problems beyond the food.

            We arrived at 930 on Friday night, and the restaurant was half empty. In fact, by the time we left at 1100, we were the last diners there, and the wait and kitchen staff were huddled in the corner of the open kitchen waiting for us to leave.

            Note: we sat at the counter, and ordered a la carte (tasting menu is $160 pp, which isn't outrageous but we wanted to try different items). Had 5 small plates and 1 large: iberian ham with bruschetta; sardines tart with parmesan shavings and baby basil; tuna belly with olive oil; cod in broth with vegetables and wonton skin; grilled vegetables with buffalo mozzarella; (large) steak tartare with hand-cut fries.

            Here were the pros and cons of my experience:



            1. Stale, old bread basket with mediocre bread, although they were cute and small rolls
            2. The iberian ham was very dry, and although the waiter claimed that it had been sliced fresh, and pointed to the machine, I did not see anyone slicing any ham. The limes that came on a plate with our vodka tonics were also dry, as though they had been pre-sliced and sitting around for hours.
            3. The hand-cut fries with the steak tartare were not very crispy, although I liked their unique shape.
            4. The tuna belly was stringy -- it had very apparent white striations that remind me of bad sashimi.
            5. The rest of the dishes we tried (sardine, grilled vegetables with buffalo mozzarella, cod) were okay, but not fantastic.

            service and decor:

            1. The Captain had only tried 2 dishes (the cod and the iberian ham), and kept saying, "Yes, actually that is one of the dishes I've tried..."
            2. The other wait staff did not know what they were serving, e.g., when I asked what was on a piece of bread with the iberian ham, they had to get the Captain to come over to explain (a hunk of butter); same thing with the wonton skin on top of the cod
            3. There were fingerprints on several plates, and more atrociously, on the butter for the bread! This could be a function of the lighting at the counter, but still.
            4. The service at the counter is overwhelming, to the point that I felt as though they were being intrusive and in fact eavesdropping on my conversation. (Which they were, because when I was expressing my displeasure (quietly) to my boyfriend, the waiter came over to ask what the matter was.)This was likely because we were the only people in the restaurant.
            5. The decor is not my style -- too eighties and black. But that's purely personal preference.


            1. The waitstaff, I believe, recognizes that there are glitches, given how new the restaurant is. They were very open to receiving feedback, and were gracious about it.
            2. We saw IM Pei and his wife there, as well. That was pretty cool.

            I hope that these problems were just a function of a bad (slow) night, and new restaurant jitters. However, for those prices, I would rather go elsewhere (or have 2 great meals at less pricey places).

            1 Reply
            1. re: tigger2

              It's strange that This Atelier seems to be notably more expensive than others (tasting menu: Las Vegas $85, Paris 98 euros vs. NYC $160) when by all accounts Robuchon used Ducasse's fiasco of an NY opening as a template of what NOT to do here. Are the economics here such that they have to charge so much, thereby raising expectations and the failing of them?

              So far among friends and these first reports on CH, the impression is that the food can be pretty good but way way overpriced. $20 for a dessert course? Seems high considering the casual atmosphere (ie. counter seating, walk-ins) they are aiming for.