L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon (Paris, France)
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.
LE CRABE ROYAL crab, strips of spicy daikon
Sweet crab was paired with crispy daikon and slivers of apple for brightness.
The bread basket was as impressive as always.
LE CAVIAR crispy salmon, citrus, cocoa
Salmon was cooked rare but had a crispy skin, complemented by a potato puree and caviar.
LA SAINT-JACQUES scallop on shell, celery, white truffle
A large scallop was seared and placed atop a sweet celery root puree. White truffle shavings added a subtle earthiness to the dish.
LA CHATAIGNE chestnut soup, celery, bacon smoke
This soup was warm and comforting – the chestnut flavor was strong but not overbearing. Tender chunks of lardons and chestnut sat in the soup, while a smoky bacon foam topped it all off. Nice touch.
LE FOIE GRAS goose liver, rolled green apple in a tangy fresh hibiscus juice
A generous lobe of goose foie gras was next, cooked perfectly with a nice sear and creamy middle. Hibiscus-marinated apple provided a fruity, acidic complementary flavor and a slight crunch.
LE GYOZA a la plancha, stuffed with chicken leek and ginger in an asian broth
I definitely wouldn’t order this a la carte but I was really intrigued to see how it came out. The gyoza came out really well, with a juicy chicken-leek filling and a crispy sear. It sat, crispy side up, in a floral scented broth.
LE SAINT-PIERRE john dory, salsify confit, lemon chiffon, sweet almond
John Dory was served with a crispy exterior; the meaty piece of fish was accented by lemon with slivers of salsify.
LA CAILLE quail stuffed with foie gras and served with truffled mashed potatoes
I’ve had variations of this dish in the past and loved it. The quail was cooked perfectly, juicy and tender with slivers of truffle. I’m not sure I got the foie gras flavor within the quail, but it was tasty nonetheless. Robuchon’s signature mashed potatoes were even better with shaved black truffles and a drizzle of quail jus.
LE PARFUM DES ILES cream with passion fruit and banana, rum granite, coconut
This first dessert was very refreshing with a vibrant passion fruit and banana custard topped with coconut cream.
LE CHOCOLAT TENTATION creamy valrhona chocolate ganache, ice cocoa nibs, oreo cookie
Layers of chocolate textures made up this last dessert. Pretty nice.
Cappuccino with caramel and madeleines provided the post-lunch pick-me-up.
The meal at L’Atelier was a very strong one. The tasting menu showed off a pretty broad range of flavors and the kitchen’s execution was excellent. It’s hard to compare across the worldwide l’Atelier restaurants as I’ve had different menus from each, but this Saint-Germain location has prepared my best meals to date. Given the lack of lunch menus, I would recommend trying other Parisian restaurants that offer a lunch deal and save this spot for dinner.
This remains my very favorite restaurant. I went to the one in Tokyo recently, and while good, the creativity and execution at the St. Germaine outpost is on another level. And I really love that passion fruit dessert. I crave it often.
I think Tokyo is the second-best of the l’Ateliers I’ve tried, not too far behind. Yeah the passion fruit dessert was really delicious. He needs to serve that on a beach somewhere.