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L’atelier du Joël Robuchon, Paris

April 11th, 2009 · No Comments

L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon
This will just be a short summary of a restaurant which would be easy to write volumes about. This is the second time we’ve eaten here – the first was a dinner meal that we would both describe as one of our best dining experiences ever, and the second experience – a lunchtime meal – left us a little wanting.

So – just the ‘delta’ (i.e. the difference between the two meals) – we felt that L’atelier is a better restaurant to visit for a big dinner meal and not so much for lunch. The main reason is the price.

Let me explain: L’atelier is a unique experience – there are no tables – just bar seating – and the menu is generally small tasting plates (similar to those served at the French Laundry) that all have an almost amuse-bouche quality to them – a few bites of perfectly-assembled tastes that don’t over-do it with quantity, and are just enough to leave you wanting more – when your next course arrives, more perfect food and this procession of small delicious plates adds up to an amazing meal.

But – when you go there for lunch, the menu is the same as the dinner menu – and unless you’re going to do the full tasting menu (140€), only having two small, expensive courses while sitting on stools at the bar and not drinking very much (it is still lunch I’m talking about) – leaves you hungry, and somewhat dissatisfied. I think L’atelier is a fabulous restaurant, but it’s unique mode of presentation of its food means that to really enjoy it, I suggest you go there for a big, blow-out kind of meal, order tons of plates, lots of wine, and really enjoy yourself. That way, when the significant bill comes, you’re full and very, very happy (due to the great food and ample quantities of wine). But for lunch, you leave the restaurant not very full, not terribly tipsy, and a little sore that you just spent $250 on half of the meal you should have had, yielding about a quarter of the satisfaction you should have had.

The only two other problems – this time we ordered La Caille (quail) – and unfortunately it was a bit overcooked. We also ordered the 60€ lunch special (they didn’t tell us the price when they verbally delivered the specials of the day) consisting of roast chicken (chapon), a few bites of salad, potatoes and foie gras – and while the quantities of everything were great, the chicken was a little dry and flavourless. For 60€ – I want chicken at least as good as the $20 chicken at Bouchon.

So the delta – still a great restaurant, but two complaints this time – 1) a bit expensive for a small lunch (if you want lunch, great, but go for the big blow-out of the tasting menu) and 2) they weren’t quite on their game this time with food that wasn’t cooked quite as well as it could have been – especially for the price.

Recommended for the Tasting Menu for an evening meal.
L’atelier du Joël Robuchon
5, rue de Montalembert (corner of rue du Bac), 75007, Paris
Tel: + (33)

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Tags: French · Paris

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