January 19, 2015

L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon, Saint-Germain Paris (6th arr)

When I planned my first trip to Paris, there were a handful of restaurants on the must visit list and towards the very top of that list was the original L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon in Saint-Germain-Des-Prés.
Recognized as one of the top chefs in the world, this restaurant marked the comeback of Joël Robuchon when it opened its doors in 2003. At the helm now is executive chef Axel Manes, who's photo is prominently displayed above the kitchen.

The dining room at L'Atelier is unlike any other I have seen. Right behind the entrance of the restaurant is a view of the kitchen. To the left and right were a set of glass doors that opened up to the dining room, which included a wrap around bar with the kitchen at the center. There was a separate dining room with regular tables, but why sit there when there's a front row seat at the bar?

In case you're wondering, the cabbage in the vase is real and the water is changed daily to preserve the freshness. 

Inside the sushi bar style glass cases that the bar were seasonal ingredients featured on the menu. After studying the menu, we decided to get the 11 course "discovery menu". 

Menu Découverte "Discovery Menu"
The food was delicious, the portion sizes were just right and the length and pace of the meal perfect. The service was good, but not as personable or friendly as other restaurants. Being able to make an emotional connection with not just the food, but the whole experience is what makes me want to go back to a restaurant. While the food at L'Atelier was great, there's nothing else that would bring me back. My words to my husband at the end of our meal were "I'm so glad I got to experience this, but I don't need to come back."

Without further ado, here is the recap.

The bread is not baked in house. Instead, it's sourced from what they consider to be the best bakery in Paris, Eric Kayser down the street. Crunchy crust and great flavor. 

Le Crabe Royal
King crab ravioli with daikon radish as the "wrapper". A perfect bit of sweet and spicy crab balanced by the daikon radish.

Le Caviar
The combination of salty caviar, crispy potato skin and light potato emulsion was divine with the salmon. A surprisingly delicate and light dish with a wonderful mix of textures. 

La Saint-Jacques
The aroma from the white truffle and basil was intoxicating. The scallop was beautifully cooked and nicely paired with mushroom foam. 

La Chantaigne
The chestnut soup was one of my favorite dishes. Rich and creamy with crispy bacon at the bottom and chunks of chestnut and foie gras throughout nicely balanced by the celery emulsion on top. 

Le Foie Gras
The goose liver had a nice sear on the outside and was rich and creamy on the inside. Served with tart apple marinaded in hibiscus juice, fresh cherries and almonds. It was a nice play on sweet and savory. 

Le Gyoza
The chicken gyoza was great, but the delicate ginger chicken broth really made the dish. I took full advantage of the spoon.

Le Saint-Pierre
The clams and fish were served in a mild almond sauce. This was the least interesting dish of the meal.

La Caille
The caramelized quail was perfectly cooked and stuffed with foie gras and served with black truffle mashed potato. The parsley dill salad didn't look like much, but it added brightness to quite a heavy but foodgasmic dish. 

Le Parfum des Iles
Moving on to dessert, this banana creme with rum flavored ice was my favorite out of the two desserts. Subtle banana flavor, light, not too sweet and spiked with alcohol. Who wouldn't love it?

Le Chocolate Tentation
This chocolate on chocolate dessert was sinfully good. The chocolate mousse was light in texture, but bold in flavor, the ice cream was rich and creamy, the cookie added a nice crunch. The chocolate dust added even more chocolate flavor on top of everything else.

Espresso (not included with the tasting menu)
We lingered at the bar and reflected on the 11 course meal over espresso and madeleines. As I mentioned earlier, it was a delicious meal and I'm very glad to have had the opportunity to experience it. However, I don't have the need or desire to return for another taste.

L'atelier de Joël Robuchon
5 Rue Montalembert
75007 Paris, France

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