I’d never pass up an opportunity to dine at “celebrity” restaurants, much less double-Michelin starred ones. By now it’s sort of obvious I cant help but be sucked in to the hype. Truth be told though, high end French cuisine doesn’t usually do it for me. I don’t do snails, or frogs, and of course seafood isn’t for me.. Which sort of leaves a steak, which can be had anywhere. That, however, is all largely irrelevant for Joel’s left bank setup – A restaurant with no tables, no chairs, and no English.
You sit down on bar stools overlooking the frantic, yet impeccable open kitchen as over a dozen chefs prepare dishes non stop, with almost Monet style precision. The servers, hosts and sommelier handle the sushi-bar-meets-teppanyaki-grill setup that they have opted for, which is fabulous for diners but must be chaotic to waitstaff who awkwardly serve plates with bent elbows in-between cutlery and glassware.
The drinks list, while extensive, was really the only shortcoming when it came to choice. The burgundy list in particular was dissapointing, and even this 1er cru from Jean-Marc Boillot was the epitome of mediocrity.
The first three plates arrived simultaneously. Jamon de Belotta was good, though I’m still not sold on what I’ve tried, along with a bruschetta side and and eggplant stack that while good fell a little short of the mark.
Then came the Japanese gyoza, which were chicken and leek in a sauce reminiscent of tangy ponzu, this was bright red in colour and filled with sesame. These were brilliant.
We followed this up with a special of the night, Spaghetti with Australian (!!!) truffles. You sure did get a generous serving, although this was reflected in the cost of the dish it was a lovely pasta. Cooked al-dente and with minimal intervention it truly let the truffles (Which I saw 3 being prepared that were at least 100g each) sing. I estimated at least 10-15g per serving, which was generous.
Regrettably, I forgot to snap our mains, which were 2 different cuts of beef (Weren’t specified, but mine was eye and L’s was sirloin from the looks). Both were great, and another one of Robuchon’s signature dishes, the mashed potatoes (Or, more correctly, whipped butter garnished with potato) were devilishly good.
We passed on dessert, but the soufflé looked epic. As a side note, with your espresso you do get about half a dozen of their madeleines, which were so good they should be a standalone item.
To conclude, we had an amazing meal. Whilst I possibly think that there is room for improvement on the more simple of dishes, L’Atelier is certainly a hallmark for a fine evening, even if its for the theatre more so than the meal. Do I think it’s worth 2 Michelin stars? Probably not, though it does seem to be more accurately represented in the price, not the quality. Which is a bad thing.
L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon
Rue Montalambert, St Germain, Paris