Mrs. O and I had another memorable lunch at L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon in Paris last month. We once again ordered the Menu “Decouverte” – a 9-course progression for €98 per person. A superb value for a bona fide gourmet experience, IMO.
Here is a description of the food and wines we had. I’ve included some photos on this slideshow link.
We started with a glass of Bruno Paillard Champagne Brut NV (€16/glass) that was fresh, lively and balanced (92P).
Then we ordered a bottle of 2002 J-M Colin Chassagne-Montrachet “Les Caillerets” (€114). Fantastic aromas, elegant yet creamy body, with veiled but vibrant structure and acidity (93P).
For a red, the wine steward informed us that they were opening a double magnum of 1998 Chateau La Mission Haut Brion for €26/glass. We jumped all over that. Of course, it is years away from its prime drinking window, but the wine’s herbal/earthy components showed quite well with some of the courses (91+P).
We finished with a lovely 2004 San Stefano Moscato d’Asti (€11/glass) that was loaded with bright mango flavors. (90P)
As you can see, it’s all about layers at Robuchon. Different textures and flavors on top of one another, rather than separated or melded together. Most of the time it worked beautifully.
L’amuse Bouche: Crémeux de foie gras comme un cappuccino (not pictured)
This “foie gras cappuccino” was an outstanding kickoff. Underneath the foam was a foie gras/mushroom custard that provided a counterweight to the light but intense froth on top. Probably the best dish on the menu. It didn’t rally pair well with the champagne and was decent with the white burg.
La Coquille St.-Jacques crue, marinée aux graines de pavot grillées
Scallop carpaccio with poppy seeds, pink sea salt and microgreens. This was mildly seasoned and a little too oily. The champagne was a better pairing than the white burg with this one.
Le Pied de Cochon truffé sur une tartine gratinée au parmesan
Another one of my favorite courses and the best pairing with the Chassagne-Montrachet. This was a pig-foot hash (tasted like a corned beef hash made out of bacon), spread on truffle accented toast, with dandelion greens. The smokiness of the dish brought out the best of the oaky elements of the wine. Deliciously melt-in-your mouth good.
Les Champignons dans une royale, au coulis de persil et croustilles d’ail
Mushroom royale, with a parsley coulis and garlic crisps. This nice earthy dish that was almost too rich, but the parsley gave it a pleasant lift. Surprisingly, the white burg was clearly the better pairing. The parsley in the dish brought out too much of the green-ness in the LMHB.
Le Rouget sur une vierge aux agrumes et àla coriander fraîche
Baby red mullet with citrus and coriander cream and crispy skin, fresh yellow tomatoes, and rocket greens and a beet reduction. The mullet was a little too fishy tasting , but the grapefruit/coriander sauce was delightful. Went well with the Chassagne-Montrachet.
La Chataigne en fin bouillon au fumet de céleri et lard fumé
Another contender for best dish, this chestnut celery soup had fascinating texture contrasts between the seared chunk of foie gras in the middle of the bowl and the crunchy chestnuts. The flavors were deep, rustic and complex. It brought out the latent acidity of the white burg terrifically. The earthy notes of the LMHB came to the fore here.
L’Agneau de Lait des Pyrénées en côtellettes à la fleur de thym
Suckling lamb chops (in fact they were so small, my wife called them “womb chops”) with potato puree and thyme sauce. Wonderfully tender and succulent. A killer pairing with the La Mish.
La Tequila givrée aux fruits exotiques
A tropical fruit parfait of sorts with really cool carmelized pomegranate chip on the top. A superb combination with the Moscato d’Asti. Yum.
By his time, we had a nice rapport working with the servers and they threw in this soufflé as a bonus course (not that we needed one!). Very light and tasty.
Le Chocolat sensation avec sorbet ivoire sur un crémeux Araguani
This one was sort of like chocolate pudding with cocoa puffs on the bottom and oreo crumbles on top. Very nice, but nothing sensational.
This was our second time at L’Atelier JdR. Never been there for dinner. Lunch is much less hectic, as I understand it. We love the setup of counter-seating around the kitchen so you can watch the chefs in action. The service is terrific, with a friendly (English-speaking) staff. I highly recommend it.