Date Visited: April 22, 2012
Price: €165 for 9-Course Discovery Menu, €15 for 2007 MÉDOC “Sélection Joël Robuchon”, En Magnum (Wine), €45 for L’Agneau de Lait (Lambchops), and Unrecorded Price for Sea Bream Carpaccio.

** 2-Star Michelin Restaurant and #12 Best Restaurant in the World 2012

Inside Joel RobuchonI’ll start off by claiming that L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon makes it to my top 3 restaurants I have ever experienced in my lifetime as of August 2012. The service, presentation, and food quality was nearly flawless. To truly appreciate the effort, an understanding of gastronomy is a good place to start. Gastronomy involves discovering, tasting, experiencing, and researching food preparation. The masters behind the cuisine are very exact in the preparation of every single dish. In fact, the mastermind behind it all is none other than Joël Robuchon, who was pronounced “Chef of the Century” by the guide Gault Millau in 1989 and also awarded the Meilleur Ouvrier de France (France’s Best Craftsman) in cuisine in 1976.

L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon restaurants are located in 7 cities across the world, including 2 in Paris. Its NYC location closed on June 30, 2012. This year, the Paris location in Saint-Germain was voted 12th best in the world in Restaurant Magazine’s Top 50, up from #14 in 2011 and its 7th year on the list. As quoted on the Joël Robuchon website – “Since the 2003 opening, thanks to his team and, the chef Axel Manes, L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon offers you tastes throughout the seasons, an exceptional ‘cuisine’ in a friendly and refined atmosphere all in black and red.”

L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon
Outside of L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon
Grace and Jason in Front of L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon
Grace and Jason in Front of L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon

L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon looks unassuming from the outside and is easy to miss if you’re just walking by. I made online reservations 1.5 months in advance and saved the occasion for the last night in Paris of our 2-week EuroTrip. As cliche as it sounds, the overall experience was the perfect icing to the cake.

Menu
Menu
Tabletop
Tabletop
Seated around the open kitchen
Seated around the open kitchen

What’s cool about the venue is the open kitchen, which was designed by French interior designer Pierre-Yves Rochon. There are 40 counter seats inside that allow the patrons to observe the preparation of the dishes and select the ‘Le Carte’-based (small plates) menus depending on the appetite.

Since it was Grace’s and my first time, we opted to share the €165 9-Course Discovery Menu (Le Caviar, L’Asperge Verte, Le Gyoza, Le Foie Gras, O’Oeuf, Le Rouget, La Caille, La Pomme, and La Chocolat Tendance) with an addition of 2 dishes – the Lambchops and Sea Bream Carpaccio.

Grace drinking wine

Jason drinking wine
Wine choice: 2007 MÉDOC “Sélection Joël Robuchon”, En Magnum
Château Tour Séran

We started the journey with a glass of wine that we shared throughout the meal.

Pre-Meal Baguettes
Pre-Meal Baguettes
Mint Mousse
Mint mousse with pea and asparagus compliments of the chef

As with almost every meal we ate in Paris, we were given a basket of baguettes. We were careful not to stuff ourselves too early on. The complimentary Mint Mousse appetizer was very refreshing and helped warm up our palates for the upcoming dishes.

I won’t comment too much on each dish and let the pictures speak for themselves. I can assure you that everything was decadent and left me wanting more. Let’s begin…

Course 1: Le Caviar
Course 1: Le Caviar – Creme fraiche horseradish sauce on a poached potato with caviar

The plating here is beautiful and the attention to detail is unparalleled.

Course 2: L'Asperge Verte
Course 2: L’Asperge Verte – Green asparagus and sorrel soup

Bubbly texture. I used a spoon to mix before indulging.

Course 3: Le Gyoza
Course 3: Le Gyoza – Stuffed poultry gyoza in an Asian flavored broth

At first, I questioned the gyoza (dumplings). But one bite later, I instantly knew that these were the best I’ve ever had. Crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside.

Course 4: Le Foie Gras
Course 4: Le Foie Gras – Fatty duck liver, quince poached in its own juice to tart hibiscus

Foie gras may be banned in California, but it is perfectly acceptable in France. Smooth and silky. This was quite the treat.

Course 5: L'Oeuf
Course 5: L’Oeuf – Egg casserole with light cream of crab and black truffles

Very unique. You simply use a spoon to scoop the liquid; it was almost as if it was a drink.

Course 6: Le Rouget
Course 6: Le Rouget – Mullet with virgin pistachio oil

A change of pace with seafood as part of the experience.

Course 7: La Caille
Course 7: La Caille – Free-range quail stuffed with foie gras and served with truffled mashed potatoes

Very tender. This plate was extraordinary. My favorite of the evening. It only helps that it was served with Robuchon’s famous truffled mashed potatoes (more on this later).

Course 8: La Pomme
Course 8: La Pomme – Apple jelly, Granny Smith sorbet, and sweet cider emulsion

Cool and refreshing part 1 of 2 of the desserts.

La Chocolat Tendance
Course 9: La Chocolat Tendance – Creamy chocolate ganache, Araguani ice cocoa nibs, Oreo cookie

Sweet and a great way to end the meal.

And we also ordered a few dishes off the Discovery Menu. The following items were served around the timing of Course 3.

Sea Bream Carpaccio
Sea Bream Carpaccio (off menu special)

This is a special and not on the menu. I highly recommend this. I’ve never had a better raw fish dish (non-sushi) anywhere. Perfectly seasoned and fresh.

Truffled Mashed Potatoes
Robuchon’s Famous Truffled Mashed Potatoes (comes with the L’Agneau de Lait)

So good! Anthony Bourdain of the Travel Channel even says that you can’t go without trying the mashed potatoes. Creamy and rich.

L'Agneau de Lait
L’Agneau de Lait – Lambchops with thyme

Grace ate this dish. I’m not a fan of lamb, so I didn’t touch it. It did look perfectly cooked though.

My experience at L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon was worth every penny (or Euro to be more exact). There’s no reason not to dine here if you’re visiting Paris. I guarantee that it will blow your mind. And the cool thing about the location is that the people aren’t snobby. Very few suited up and most diners wore casual attire.

Tips:
1) Bookings are taken for the first sittings only at lunch and dinner – 11.30am and 6.30pm respectively.
2) No need to dress too fancy; this place is not intimidating.

Address:
5 rue Montalembert
75007 Paris (map)
Tel: 01 42 22 56 56

Hours:
Lunch – 11:30 am to– 3:30 pm
Dinner – 6:30 pm to – 12:00 midnight
(Open year round. Closed on the Dec 24.)

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