L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon
5 rue de Montalembert
75007 Paris, France
Dining date: 10/28/14
This Paris Saint-Germain location was the first of Joel Robuchon’s l’Atelier concepts, which is now a worldwide chain. Holding two Michelin stars and ranked #31 in the latest world’s best restaurant list (and as high as #12 in 2012), it’s oft-regarded as the best of Robuchon’s l’Atelier restaurants.
In my first trip to Europe seven years ago, this restaurant was easily the best (and by far most expensive) meal I had. It’s still one of the more memorable dining experiences I’ve had and I wanted to return once more to see if the restaurant was as good as I remembered. There are no lunch specials at this location, just a la carte and a €179 discovery tasting menu. A la carte starters and mains price in the €40-€80 range each so I figured the 10-course tasting menu was the way to go.
84 rue de Varenne
75007 Paris, France
Dining date: 10/27/14
L’Arpege has been high on my list of restaurants to try for some time. When I first traveled to Paris seven years ago, I remember walking around the corner from the Rodin Museum just to see the restaurant from the outside. Having just graduated from college, I sorely lacked the funds to consider dining here and wondered if I ever would. On this next trip, this was my most anticipated meal in Paris.
L’Arpege has been around for almost 30 years and has become one of the most notable dining establishments in the city. Cheffed by Alain Passard, it’s a Michelin three star (and has been since 1996) and is currently ranked the #25 best restaurant in the world (the highest ranked Parisian establishment). Passard is known for being a visionary and pioneer particularly as it relates to vegetables. The restaurant maintains its own organic gardens to supply its produce and even removed meat from its menu for a period of time. Today, meat is back on the menu but the focus is still clearly on vegetables at l’Arpege.
As with many Michelin starred restaurants in Paris, it can get expensive. Very expensive. The restaurant’s current tasting menu runs at €370 with a vegetable tasting at €290. However, lunchtime brings one more option – a €140 lunch tasting. A relative bargain, we came for lunch and opted for this choice.
129 ave Parmentier
75011 Paris, France
Dining date: 10/25/14
Le Chateaubriand was our first dinner in Paris. While the restaurant doesn’t have a Michelin star, it is ranked #27 on the latest World’s 50 Best Restaurants list (ranking as high as #9 in 2011). Reviews appeared to be pretty mixed with some loving it and some hating it; I was intrigued to find out what the restaurant had to offer.
Le Chateaubriand is an example of Paris’ bistronomy movement, serving fine dining-inspired cuisine in a much more relaxed, casual atmosphere. Its tasting menu, at 65 euros, is significantly less than most Michelin starred restaurants in the city, especially for dinner. Two seatings are available; the first one is by reservation two weeks in advance and the second is walk-in only. Unfortunately, we failed at getting a reservation and opted for the walk-in route. We ended up waiting approximately two hours after getting there at 8:30. The neighboring wine shop had plenty of business from us and other diners-in-waiting.
68 Royal Hospital Road
London SW3 4HP
Dining date: 10/17/14
Gordon Ramsay is one of the most famous chefs in the world and one of the few who are celebrities in both hemispheres. While best-known for being a shouty chef on TV, he first made a name for himself cooking in Britain’s kitchens becoming a highly respected chef. His restaurant empire now spans two dozen restaurants over multiple continents. This restaurant, located in London’s Chelsea neighborhood, was his first and is his flagship. It’s also currently the only Michelin three-star in his portfolio. We stopped in for lunch after dinner the previous night at…Dinner.
A few dining options are available for lunch. A three course lunch tasting menu is available (£55, with three options for each course) as well as a three course a la carte at £95 with even more choices. For those looking to splurge, a full chefs tasting menu of 7 courses is available for £135. We ordered one lunch menu and one a la carte.
718 N Highland Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90038
Dining date: 10/13/14
Petit Trois is Ludo Lefebvre’s latest venture, opened a few months ago as the more casual sister restaurant to the popular Trois Mec. It’s literally next door and shares a wall; I believe the kitchens/pantry are even connected. Petit Trois serves classic French bistro fare. No-tickets, no-reservations. As the name suggests, it’s a very cosy restaurant with a handful of counter seats around the small kitchen and some additional back counter seats; there are no tables.
We came early for Monday lunch service and grabbed two seats at the kitchen counter with a front-row view of the action. It’s amazing how efficiently the kitchen works in such tight quarters.
Dinner by Heston Blumenthal
Mandarin Oriental Hotel
London SW1X 7LA
Dining date: 10/16/14
Heston Blumenthal is one of the most notable chefs in the world; his flagship The Fat Duck was once named the best restaurant in the world and has consistently garnered three Michelin stars. He has a number of restaurants in Bray (about an hour outside of London), but Dinner was his first restaurant in London proper. Opened in 2011, it’s achieved much praise of its own, currently holding two Michelin stars and standing at #5 on the 2014 S. Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants List. Having dined at The Fat Duck a couple of years ago, I was eager to try Dinner while in London.