Restaurants Joël Robuchon - official site
L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon is based on simplicity and the very highest quality food, drawing on Robuchon’s internationally renowned culinary expertise.
The philosophy of the counter where you dine at L’Atelier is one of interactivity. The eating counter surrounds the entire kitchen where the diners’ food is prepared. Robuchon utilises this format as a chef can actually gauge the reaction of his clients, and even converse with those regulars that wish to participate. In turn diners may watch their food being prepared by consummate professionals in the Japanese inspired lay out.
At L’Atelier you can eat the highest quality food in an informal, convivial environment in less than an hour should you so wish. In London, unlike the sister restaurants in Paris and Tokyo, there are another 20 seats where diners may sit opposite each other.
Robuchon’s menu delights the palate with clean incisive flavours and refreshingly unfussy presentation, the dishes being predominantly French with Italian and Spanish elements. [joel-robuchon.com]
CHEF: Joël Robuchon
Born in Poitiers in 1945, Joël Robuchon originally intended to join the priesthood. But family difficulties forced him to find work & at 15 he took on an apprenticeship at the Relais de Poitiers. In 1966 Robuchon became the official chef of La Tour de France, where he learnt a variety of diverse regional techniques. At 28, he became head chef at Harmony-Lafayette, overseeing 3,000 meals a day. In 1981 he launched Jamin in Paris & within three years had received three Michelin stars. In 1996 he left his Parisian restaurant, but maintained the direction of L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon in Tokyo. He opened another L’Atelier in Paris in 2003 & has since established Ateliers in Las Vegas, New York & London. [squaremeal.co.uk]
The London branch of the French überchef’s global brand rarely puts a foot wrong with its meticulously prepared dishes & chicer than chic surrounds: no wonder it’s a magnet for Rolex-wearing types & those with generous expense accounts. While the first-floor monochrome restaurant offers a traditional three-course menu, the no-booking ground-floor ‘atelier’ is more fun: it’s a dark & sleek space, colour-schemed in Robuchon’s signature red & black, where diners perch on stools at a counter overlooking the open kitchen. Black-clad chefs assemble immaculate grazing dishes from high-end ingredients with an air of cool precision & the results are hard to fault. Artfully tiered tuna tartare looks good & tastes even better, the famous beef & foie gras mini-burger with crunchy chips amuses, & pig’s trotter on parmesan toast is a rich mélange incorporating truffle, mushroom & tarragon. As one fan declares: ‘Every mouthful is a taste sensation’. Knowledgeable but ‘abrupt’ staff keep the finely calibrated operation ticking over briskly.
Wine List: This is a judiciously chosen collection, with classics from Bordeaux balanced by interesting bottles from regions such as Languedoc & Corsica. More than half the selection is French, though the rest of the world receives good coverage – New Zealand, Australia & Italy all hold interest. Margins are not low, but there is plenty to choose between £20 & £40. Best Buy White: 2006 Soave, Tamellini, Veneto, Italy, £26. Best Buy Red: 2004 Anjou-Villages, Domaine Ogereau, Loire Valley, France, £32.
Outstanding modern French cuisine. Reserve at the counter, it is the ONLY place to sit. The outstanding cuisine is best enjoyed via ordering the small plates, which diners can mix and match to create the meal of their own design. There are so many highlights it is difficult to recommend any one over the others. Robuchon's signature langoustine dish is prepared to perfection, sweetbreads are heavenly and the steak tartare is memorable. While food is the reason to come to L'Atelier, the service makes it all that more enjoyable. General Manager and chief sommelier Stephane Colling runs a tight ship. At the counter the waiter are always within close proximity and they provide outstanding service, as do the bussers who make course presentations a special event, multiple times per meal. The wine list developed by Colling is first class containing hidden treasures, including wines from small boutique French wineries that are unknown outside France. If you are unsure, check with Colling and he will guide you to a wine. Further his wine pairings are well selected and served.
The stars of the night were an amuse bouche - a shot of foie gras with a port reduction and parmesan foam. The little free pre-pudding of honey panna cotta with yogurt ice cream, raspberry and lime coulis and a little ground 'granola' was a really brilliant combination and the flavour of the raspberries lasted such a long time. Best of all was a sugar glass bauble filled with sorbets in a sauce of red fruits and some anise in there. This gave us HUGE pleasure - baubles and prettiness aside, the flavour combination again was perfect.
Service was informal and very attentive. Knowing it was my birthday, the put together a little slice of chocolate tart with a candle on a 'happy birthday' iced plate - completely charmed by that.
Next time we'll go to the ground floor, as I like the idea of trying lots of dishes.
I don't know what it is about L'Atelier that makes me give it three stars. The food certainly is good...
Perhaps one day I really must do the tasting. And sit at the bar.
That being said:
I always know the places I want to give 4 or 5 stars and though I have only been to L'Atelier twice, neither time have I walked away reeling from the experience. I think a lot of it is just that I don't find the dining room very pleasant or impressive, and honestly find the price to food ratio more than slightly ridiculous.
Our waiter was nice enough, but he was not knowledgeable about the wine at all nor could he seem to get the sommelier or manager to speak to us about it. I will give him points for being enthusiastic when I asked for suggestions, but everything he suggested was related to foie gras, and I had already ordered a foie gras dish. On top of that, he just struck me as awkward.
The Amuse was, as my sister noted, delightful. It came in a jigger glass, as you would expect typically from an amuse soup. This however was thick and creamy and required a spoon: warm foie gras emulsion, very nice, rich, and full of flavor.
King crab and radish - (described as: "Le King Crab" king crab in a turnip ravioli with rosemary) tasty, with the perfect amount of shaved radish and small assortment of dipping oils on the plate. I thought this was a very nice, if small, dish - but at the same time slightly awkward to enjoy all layers together.
Foie gras and eel - (described as: L'Anguille - caramelized eel layered with smoked foie gras) - compliments each other well, the foie gras does not overpower the eel at all and if it is smoked, the smoked flavor is exceptionally subtle, the eel itself just a touch sweet. I recall being bored by this last time - and since it was the predominate reason I wanted to go to *this* Joel Robuchon, it was disappointing. On this second trip, I was impressed by the meshing of foie gras (this one far more subtle than the amuse) and the subtle flavors of the eel. Not a bursting-with-layers-of-flavor in your mouth sort of plate, but well done.
"Le Champignon" (described as: portobello mushroom tart with eggplant caviar, tomato confit and arugula) - Just as the king crab dish I'd had playfully calls the slices of turnip that encase the crab meat a 'ravioli', this dish describes strips of eggplant laid atop it as 'caviar' - which to me was not playful but all around silly. Perhaps it is because I actually like some caviar (and am not an eggplant fan) and was subconsciously disappointed? I don't mind anything that has tomato confit - but found the taste of roasted tomato and semi saltiness of the eggplant to overshadow the portobello. I was not fond of this dish, unlike my dining companions.
Sea Bass - (described as "Le Bar" - pan-fried sea bass with a lemongrass foam and stewed baby leeks) - Regarding this dish - IMO it is what it is - a cut of delicately cooked and nicely presented sea bass, semi-salty, but nothing to write home about. Nothing spectacular happening with this dish.
Dessert Amuse Bouche - citrus mousse with tapioca - tastes of basil, grapefuit. This was excellent - bursting with refreshing flavor, tangy, sweet. They really hit the nail on the head with this exciting punch of joy ;)
Dessert: (descibed as "La Pomme Verte" light jivara ganache, green apple brunoise and ginger ice cream) - apple, pear, what my sister describes as oreo, came topped with an extremely thin dried slice of apple, and a small amount of gold leafing. I think the oreo was actually the jivara (or chocolate) ganache - but whatever it was - I was not fond of it. This is probably just another case of - everyone has different tastes. This dessert just wasn't my thing.
The wine I wound up ordering by my fail safe method (if it is a grape I have never heard of - I order it) worked out surprisingly well. It was a 2005 Pinot Auxerrois Blanc from Alsace - and before you call me out, yes, it was in the front of the menu and easy. It was also semi-sweet, fruity but not overpowered by it; a medium bodied white with presence. Good job Val! Good job;)
Former three-star chef Joël Robuchon was hailed as the best French chef of the 20th century before he retired at age 50. Then, a few years ago, he returned to the limelight with this unlikely vehicle: a New York–style coffee shop cum tapas bar. Ironically, Robuchon wanted out of the Michelin rat race but received a star here in 2006 and a second star at his other Paris restaurant, a somewhat staid sit-down place in the 16th Arrondissement called La Table de Joël Robuchon. L'Atelier is innovative, totally nonsmoking, and fun, as long as you don't mind the counter-only service, high-rise stools, and reservation policy—tables can only be booked for 6:30 p.m. If you choose to dine later, odds are you'll wind up admiring the black and Chinese-red lacquer interior for an hour or more before ascending your stool. Begin with caviar, Spanish ham, or spaghetti carbonara, or perhaps an assortment of little tasting plates. This French take on tapas changes often but might include veal sweetbreads skewered with a bay leaf twig and garnished with creamy Swiss chard, or a tart of mackerel filet, Parmesan shavings, and olives. Then, go classic with a steak or opt for something more inventive like sublime cannelloni stuffed with foie gras and Bresse chicken.
TripAdvisor Popularity Index: #20 of 5,912 restaurants in Paris