Sunday, June 10, 2007

L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon in Paris

When I first ate at L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon in Paris about five years ago, it had been open only a month. I went with a friend and we sat happily at the counter rejoicing in the fact that Joël Robuchon had come out of retirement to continue making the best food in the world. When L’ Atelier de Joël Robuchon opened in New York not long ago, I was deeply disappointed, even though I’d loved his Las Vegas place. New York just did not live up to the high standards I think Robuchon set in his other restaurants.

Well, I went back to Paris recently and arranged a lunchtime reunion at L’Atelier with my friend. We sat at the bar again, pleased to be there and to catch up on our lives. We were immediately offered a glass of champagne and a plate of “iberico de bellota, the best Spanish ham, along with some amazing toast topped with finely diced tomatoes. I knew that we were in for a long lunch and that our timing could not have been more perfect. It was a holiday; it was raining outside, and the day was ours. Ecstasy.

We ordered a plate of morels sautéed in butter and a bit of vinegar which made them melt then explode in your mouth. We also ordered his famous langoustine en papillote au basilic. I’ve had this dish in NY and in Las Vegas but only here does the langoustine taste like langoustine. With our first courses we had a bottle of 2003 Condrieu “La Loue” by a producer I never heard of, Jean Michel Gerin. It’s a soft Condrieu with extremely delicate fruit--just another heavenly variation on Condrieu, my favorite white wine in the world. Get to know it and you’ll be hooked too.

We then had the La noix d’entrecote, a steak grilled on a huge sheet of inox steel. It was perfectly cooked and the meat melted in your mouth, literally. The French fries with it were light as air.

For dessert we had the sublime Soufflé Chartreuse avec crème glacee pistache, a trademark dessert at L’Atelier. Maybe everything just tastes better in Paris, or maybe L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon in Paris just rules. Probably both. The only complaint I have is that the dollar is so weak against the euro that this sublime experience is more than a bit pricy. Luckily, I’m only in Paris a few times a year. I do know that everyone who cares about great food should make a pilgrimage here.

L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon,
5 rue de Montalembert,
75007, Paris, France_
Tel: +33 (0)1 42 22 56 56 _


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