L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon
Self medicating as we were, after landing in Paris as both sets of parents looked after our children for a couple of weeks, two good bottles of Burgundy were all that it took for us to forget our evil parenting ways. The 2008 Vincent Dauvissat Chablis ‘Les Clos’ is a wine that is extremely primary with all sorts of pure, rocky, iodine things going on. It is rich, layered and textured yet precise and cutting and has incredible length of flavour. Our red Burgundy to see us through the protein course at Joel Robuchon’s Paris Atelier was the 2007 Georges Mugneret Chambolle-Musigny ‘Les Fuesselottes’. This is a wine that is vibrant and sappy with real punch and lift to the aroma. It is laden with ripe cherry fruits and has a hint of camphor and plenty of spice. An intoxicating perfume, redolent of violets, appears towards the last glass and it is supple and creamy with a crisp minerally closure.
The décor, service and over-all procedure hasn’t changed since we dined here 6 or 7 year’s ago. You sit at the bar to an open kitchen and face your waiter and sommelier as they bring you out tasty morsels and engaging beverages. Our amuse of house smoked salmon in a cold potato broth was kind of world’s best vichyssoise. Not sure if it was planned but the segue into smoked eel with potato and horseradish cream worked well as the palate ignited with all sorts of smoky goodness tempered by the cream and starch of the humble tuber. A bowl of asparagus soup with sorrel was neither smoky or anything like the first two offering but was alive, vibrant and damn good.
We’d struck up a nice little rapport with Sommelier Julien Mopineau and he stepped in and complimented us a glass of Weinbach Gewürztraminer to accompany the pan-seared foie gras with rhubarb, cumquat puree and hibiscus flower. A tremendous match indeed and the rhubarb was a genius pairing with the foie, cutting the fat, and cleansing the mouth with fruit acid. My only criticism is that the stalk of a rhubarb is a prick of a thing to cut and as I tried to surgically work through the stalk with my steady, jetlagged, Burgundy soaked hands I ended up with lengthy strings of aforementioned rhubarb in un-user friendly strips that didn’t want to play ball on the end of my fork with the foie..
After we hooked into a martini glass filled with morilles, a perfectly poached egg, cream and parsley Heidi proffered ‘I could make this at home’ to which I replied ‘go on then’. I suspect the only thing holding her back are the lack of martini glasses Chez Holmes. Julien stepped up again at this juncture and decided we needed to try the house specialty of ravioli of langoustines in a foie gras and black truffle sauce. He was right, we did need to try it and it was simply outstanding.
Rouget (red mullet) is one of the things that the French do so well and here it is sublime. A perfectly cooked fillet is dressed with pistachio oil and served with chopped tomato and zucchini encased by eggplant…what a dish. To finish savoury things off Heidi and I both had the quail, stuffed with foie gras and served with truffle infused, silky mashed potato. I don’t know how many of you get some sort of primal satisfaction from squeezing a pimple? But as you press down on the portion of quail and out oozes foie puss, I kinda went a bit weak in the knees.
Two desserts brought this memorable meal to a closure, strawberries marinated in olive oil with jasmine and a wonderful coffee sabayon. The accompanying espresso was more than serviceable.
This is an outstanding restaurant that was and perhaps still is ahead of its time. It holds two Michelin stars and anyone interested in food should dine here at some stage. Be warned that you sit at the bar and its best for parties of two or three (four at a stretch if you can nail the corner of the bar).
Compares how? Just not sure what you are asking. It has been years since I've been at The Mansion in Vegas (I did the 16 course tasting or however many it was) and the tasting a L'Atelier in Paris last year.
The Mansion was a "restaurant" with tables, etc. The food was fantastic. The service was just okay.
L'Atelier is a bar counter around an open kitchen and everyone sits on bar stools. I also did the tasting menu here but I think I might have rather done a few different things off the menu. The service was just okay as well. (I'm not sure how he does such great food but can't quite get the service up to speed at either location).
I'd go back to the one in Paris anytime. I wouldn't do the Vegas restaurant again even though the food was great.
The 37E 3 course lunch menu at L'Atelier de JR Etoile is the best lunch value I've seen so far in Paris. The menu is naturally not as exciting as the a la carte options, and the ingredients tend towards more common stuff (amazing daikon bouillon, the cheese souffle sans truffle shavings, a meltingly soft blanquette de veau and the famous mashed potatoes) instead of foie gras, truffles and caviar but the cooking is excellent as befitting a Michelin starred establishment and there were quite a few choices (4 entrées, 2 soups, 6 plats and 3 desserts) to choose from.
For those with bigger appetites, there is a 57E option for 4 courses and coffee, and 77E for 5 or 6 courses, I forget. The menu changes occasionally but is not posted on their website, but if you do happen to be at Champs Elysée, the menu is posted right outside the Publicisdrugstore building.