L'Atelier du Joel Robuchon
My companion and I had a marvelous meal last night at JR's latest outpost. Unlike Bruni in the Times, I had no problem whatsoever with the decibel level from the adjacent room (although, if truth be told, we were seated at the bar far from the madding crowd). But, in retrospect, that criticism seems like so much unnecessary and predictable nitpicking and Gallic-bashing on the part of the Times.
I have eaten at JR's establishment in Paris which is much more intimate than the one at the Four Seasons Hotel. However, the food remains glorious and a wonderful experience.
The tasting menu ($160) was as follows:
1. A lighter-than-air l'amuse-bouche of foie gras, egg white, and parmesan foam
2. Sea urchin in a lobster gelee, topped with a cauliflower cream
(Briny, yet unctuous and topped with a glossy layer of pureed vegetable)
3. Ossetra caviar over capellini dressed with fresh tomatoes
(Powerful tomato flavor complimented with a saline aftertaste)
4. Crispy langoustine papillote with basil pesto
(This was a signature dish in Paris and remains as sweet and delicious here)
5. Soft poached egg on a spicy eggplant stew
(One of my favorites in the lineup--smoky vegetable oozing with rich egg yolk)
5. Cod fillet in an aromatic broth
(Diced peppers, peppercorns, and herbal oils flavor a melt-in-your-mouth piece of fish)
6 Free-range caramelized quail stuffed with foie gras, served with truffled potato puree
( I am not a fan of either quail or foie gras so I asked for a seafood substitution and received sea bass, with frizzled leeks, lemongrass stalks, in a leek reduction--heavenly; my companion was delighted with the quail and especially the butter-rich and justifiably famous potato puree)
7. A palate cleanser of Green Yuzo granite with a Verveine gelee
8. Pear served with almond souffle and almond ice cream
(Delicious, multi-textured dessert)
9 Expresso coffee served with a macaroon
(Excellent coffee but we never received a macaroon, nor did we receive any after dinner confections, as is typical of high end meals--Though I was sated, I wouldn't have minded an extra lagniappe or two of sweets to round out the meal--This was the only fault I had with the meal or the service).
With two glasses of wine apiece, the bill approached $500 with gratuities. A special occasion restaurant to be sure (our anniversary) but one that is sure to provide wonderful memories as well.
I'm not the one who made the reservation but I didn't hear anything to indicate there was any difficulty whatsoever. However, trying to land the new Gordon Ramsay is another thing altogether. Long holds, disconnections, a mess. But we got it eventually (they even had our number on file because we had eaten at the London restaurant earlier this year!)
Ok what's going on here? I too had the exact same tasting menu, except mine was $175. Seems like l'Atelier has been getting a lot of press these days but to up the price by $15 for no plain reason...what gives?
Getting back to the food, I also had an extra dish of crab topped with avocado and slices granny smith apples, along with a plate of maine lobster. By far the best dish was the langoustine papillote, crab and lobster dishes. But I agree that there was too much emphasis on frou-frou foam and a bit of an overkill on the gelee. All in all I was quite stuffed at the end of the meal, but for some reasons I just wasn't happily satisfied after I was through.
My rating 3.5 stars out of 5.