L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon (long-ish)
I had lunch at Robuchon on Wednesday. The restaurant is open about two months now, and seems to have hit its stride.
The amuse was a shot glass filled with three layers: foie gras on the bottom, a thin layer of port wine reduction in the middle, and Parmesan foam on top. I find that foam rarely works, but here it was perfect, enhancing the other two flavors and textures.
Sea Urchin parfait. A generous portion of sea urchin uni under a briny lobster gel, topped with cauliflower cream. This is a great dish if you like uni, with a contrast of three strong yet delicate flavors. My guess is that half the people who order this can't finish it, but I loved it.
Avocado and crab napolean. The avocado was bright day-glo green, and its texture was perfect. If the crab had a bit more punch it would have been perfect.
Sardine tart. A small tart loaded up with thinly sliced raw sardines, almost sashimi-like, and olives. It was not as salty as it sounds, very tasty, but the portion was a bit skimpy.
Poached egg over spicy eggplant stew. This dish sounds great, but didn't really work. The egg wasn't soft enough, and without really combining with the egg, the eggplant stew was boring. I thought the eggplant could have be spicier.
Smoked foie gras and eel. This was probably the best dish of the meal. The smokiness and and sweetness from the eel contrasted perfectly with the richness of the foie gras.
Stuffed quail with mashed potatoes and truffles. This is one of the famous dishes of the restaurant. To my taste it was good, but not as great as the hype would have you believe. The truffles on the masked potatoes were shaved too far in advance to really suffuse the potatoes.
"Burger". What looked like a mini hamburger was really a slice of hanger steak covered with a slice of foie gras. It was impossible to hold together, but you could alternate delicious bites of each components. It was served with tasty hand cut fries and a thin spicy catsup.
Baba au rhum. As 17$ desserts go, this was nothing to write home about.
The service at the bar was terrific, and the wine list had several interesting choices. The bread was as good as any I've had in New York.
The food is very good, probably the best food I have ever had in a "chain" restaurant. The biggest issue this place will have is pricing. The menu is very expensive. People will be willing to pay up for this food only so long as the quality stays very high. Right now it is in the 3 star zone (out of 4). If the food drops to two stars or lower, the word of mouth will kill it.