Our experiences at L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon were like a hazy dream – quite literally we were living in a euphoric fantasy.
Fanciful would be an understatement and would suggest an element of the irrational was involved in our experiences.
I wouldn’t put it past me given it is said sometimes I exaggerate, but I had corroborating witnesses, two food obsessed friends from Melbourne who were currently on a gastronomic tour of Europe.
And so after managing the impossible and securing us a reservation at the number 14 restaurant in the world… we finally sat down at this beautiful restaurant on a lazy Saturday afternoon for our highly anticipated meal.
Envisage, if you will, a slick modern bar surrounding an open kitchen where much of the magic happens. Only 40 people per service are able to sit stunned and truly satisfied.
Joël Robuchon is a master chef, a worldwide phenomenon with establishments all over the globe delivering fantastic food, innovation and quality, and consummate service.
We not so secretively peered over our shoulders at the plates of the adjoining couple who seemed to be receiving some particular attention from the chef himself and we were not only definitely interested in the dessert served but even more so excited by our meal to come.
We were reading through the a la carte menu and either fortunately or unfortunately, the former of course more outstanding and fun, we decided as a trio to order the not so inexpensive degustation menu at 160 euros.
I left the wine ordering to a master with a great palate and so we were presented with a gorgeous bottle of white wine from the appelation d’origine controlee, a premier cru from Burgundy.
L’Amuse Bouche: To begin this rollercoaster ride of pleasure and taste we were served an amuse-bouche of fresh crab with a shellish gelee and a cauliflower cream.
Le Premier Assiette: Lobster carpaccio with fine aromatic herbs and oils, subtle, soft, flavours of tomato and nicoise olives and poppy seeds, the raw lobster was
La Soupe: a Fava bean and green pea veloute served with a perfect dollop of fresh crème fraiche – it was smooth, light and creamy, full of flavour and every mouthful a pleasure.
Le Deuxième Assiette: perfectly seared foie gras with warm black cherries, hibiscus sauce and fresh almonds and tart granny smith apple – honestly, the BEST foie gras I have ever ever conceived let alone eaten.
Les Oeuf: a perfectly cooked organic yolk just set, hidden below a foam of light cream with rich earthy sautéed girolles, paired with a peppery herb sauce and a sprinkling of an intense spice powder.
By this stage I was quickly running out of superlatives, both in French and English, and I was overcome with simple facial expressions and sounds of absolutely joy between mouthfuls.
Working my magic with the amazing waitress, we managed to switch one of the courses, the Turbot, for another fish course, something which appealed to us all…
Le Poisson: langoustine ravioli in an almost invisible layer of egg pasta with a creamy truffle sauce and stewed green cabbage.
It was after the ravioli that our individual taste journeys finally diverged as we each indepentently chose a different main course.
Le Plat Principal – Le Viande:
The first option, L’Angneau – the milk-fed lamb
racks glazed with shallots and thyme.
The second choice, Le Veau – the glazed veal roasted to obtain a caramelised finish with potato and spring onion salad, chanterelles and jus.
The final choice, my personal pleasure to consume, La Caille – Quail, expertly deboned and stuffed with a farce of foie gras, caramelised supremely, and served with a potato puree and black truffles.
And to accompany our meats we each had a small dish of the signature mashed potato of Joël Robuchon, 50:50 butter to potato, not surprisingly we each had only a small spoonful as we were already reaching capacity and still had dessert to follow.
Unparalleled though were our final courses – the desserts…
Le Premier Dessert: La Fraise – strawberries marinated in olive oil and vanilla, above an acidulous soft biscuit, paired with the refreshingly floral jasmine and fleur d’orange sorbet pierced by a shard of sugar.
Le Deuxième Dessert: Le Café – coffee sabayon, a tart lemon greek yoghurt, and a strong coffee ice-cream crowned by a fine coffee sugar tuille
Now here comes the ultimate surprise and victory, feeling high on the absolute gratification of a blissful meal, and knowing that when it comes to dessert there is always just a little more room, I made a special request – nothing ventured, nothing gained we always make the most of a situation – could we please have one more dessert…
… MORE, MORE – another dessert, there was no hesitation, no wavering, they had experienced this request before, undoubtedly – and so the chef was asked on our behalf by our incredible waitress to prepare one more plate, to share, of the chocolate creation we had first seen on entering this palace of food.
Only, later, as the doors to the pastry kitchen opened, we were faced with not one but three plates. It seems that my appreciation and praise had indeed been passed onto the pastry chef, as had the fact that I was a pastry graduating student, and feeling extremely generous he had sent us not just one dessert each, but three tasting plates and so we were caught by total surprise and had three more courses to go in our marathon meal.
Le Surprise Assiette de Dessert:
Le Chocolat Tendance: a verrine of four layers and textures of chocolate
Le Tarte aux Chocolat: a yielding rich chocolate and macadamia nut tart
- La Fraise de Bois: strawberries macerated in vanilla with balsamic and port with basil sorbet, wild strawberries, a meringue and a halo of white chocolate
Les Boisson Chaudes: coffee and teas were accompanied by fresh madeleine aux citron and caramel aux buerre salé
Just look at the smug satisfied faces of the three Australian gentlemen … L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon has three big fans!
Lets just emphasise the gravity of this sorbet – the jasmine and basil sorbets were perfection, heavenly, light, fresh, with a balanced intensity of natural flavour, they were an absolute triumph and highlight of the meal – so much so that my compatriots requested that I work at L’Atelier to try and learn the secret to their brilliance.
Envisage if you will our meal, visualise the plating, delight in their smell, pleasure in their textures, marvel in their taste – it is not a hallucination if you come to Paris and eat there for yourselves – only there is one requirement invite me to join you or at least take photos for me!
Joël Robuchon and his organisation are aspirational, and it is my ambition to one day achieve even one hundredth of their breadth of brilliance!
THANK YOU to everyone at L’Aterlier de Joël Robuchon – St Germain, especially our South Korean French Waitress Dami and the chefs behind the closed doors the incredible pastry team!
L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon – St Germain
5 rue de Montalembert
Paris, 75007, France