Sunday, June 8, 2008

Anniversary lunch at L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon

June is a busy month for us, a lot of celebrations: our anniversary, my birthday, my sister and my father-in-law's birthdays, plus one of our good friend's (R) birthday. For our anniversary, we wanted to have dinner at Per Se, however we incorrectly thought that they accept reservations 1 month in advance, when in fact they accept it 2 months in advance. So when my husband called they said that the day was totally booked :-( He asked to put us on the waiting list either for lunch or dinner since it's for our anniversary (plus a little begging here and there).

L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon: SignageThen we decided to call L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon to see if we could make a dinner reservation there, luckily they had a table for us. So the plan was set for our anniversary celebration. Lo and behold, 2 days before the D-day, Per Se called and said that they had an opening for dinner, of course we said YES. We decided to call L'Atelier and change the reservation for lunch. Guess what, they didn't have our dinner reservation! It's good that we only needed lunch at L'Atelier, otherwise we would be very surprised.

On the day of, we left home around 10 am since our reservation was at noon. L'Atelier is located inside the Four Seasons Hotel, all the way in the back. We were the first customers to arrive since they had just opened for lunch when we got in. We were seated right away and given the menu. During lunch time in addition to the a la carte, they offered menu express which included choice of appetizer, entree and dessert. My husband chose the menu express: les saint jacques, la lotte and patisserie du jour. While I ordered from the full menu: l'anguille, la caille and le chocolat sensation.

L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon: InteriorWhile waiting for our food to arrive, we took some photos of the interior which was elegant, the colors were mainly red and black. You have a choice of sitting at the table in the dining room or at the counter with direct view of the kitchen. The latter supposedly gives you the full 'Robuchon' experience, but we would rather enjoy the comfy seats. The counter was decorated with displays of some fresh food, such as carrots, peas, bell peppers -- very unique.

The waiter brought us some bread to try: French roll, mini French baguette, black olive focaccia. The roll and baguette was okay, the crust was good but inside was a little bit too chewy for me. The focaccia on the other hand was soft and the saltiness of black olive made it more delicious.

L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon: Basket of bread
Basket of bread

The amuse bouche was lemon vanilla gelee with vanilla cream and olive tapenade. It was good, the saltiness of the olive contrasted with sweetness of the cream and smoothness of the gelee.

L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon: Amuse bouche (another view)
Amuse bouche: lemon vanilla gelee with vanilla cream and olive tapenade

Les jacques was seared day boat scallops with an endive salad. The scallops were seared perfectly, it was slightly firm yet soft texture throughout and the endive added the crunchiness to it. It was simple and delicate. My husband didn't like the endive (too rough), but enjoyed the scallops very much.

L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon: Les saint jacques (close up) - no flash
Les saint jacques

L'anguille was caramelized eel layered with smoked foie gras, which was divine. Two of my favorite food came together on the same plate, it was perfect. The richness and smokiness of the foie gras went hand in hand with the sweetness of the eel, just thinking about this dish makes my mouth water :-) I almost ordered another one if not for our dinner reservation at Per Se right after this.

L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon: L'Anguille

La lotte was pan seared monkfish served with leek, ginger scented with saffron. The fish was firm yet light, the leek was soft, the sun-dried tomatoes was sweet and the pine nuts definitely added good texture to it. Unfortunately this was not our favorite, too bland for us.

L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon: La lotte - no flash
La lotte

La caille was free-range caramelized quail stuffed with foie gras, potato puree. It was awesome! The quail was tender, the foie gras was melting in my mouth, both balanced each other very well. Regarding the famous potato puree, it was very smooth and buttery.

L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon: La caille (close up)
La caille

When all the food had been served, we decided to order additional 1 portion of les burgers to share. It was beef and foie gras burgers with lightly caramelized bell peppers, served with ginger ketchup. When came out, it was already split into 2 plates, 1 burger & 1 fries on each plate (normally they serve 2 burgers on the plate with the fries in the middle), how nice. The burger was very juicy, the foie gras was creamy and very fatty (in a good way), so incredible! The soft bun, the crunchy fries, the spicy yet sweet ketchup completed this dish.

L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon: Les burgers
Les burgers - half portion

The pre-dessert was banana and passion fruit cream with rum granite and coconut foam, very pleasant. The combination of sweet banana and tart passion fruit flavor, the mild rum and the tropical coconut taste was just perfect. It did its job to cleanse our palate to be ready for the next desserts.

L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon: Pre-dessert (another view) - no flash
Pre-dessert: banana and passion fruit cream with rum granite and coconut foam

Since we mentioned that we were celebrating our anniversary, the kitchen sent us this light and very refreshing dessert called les herbes which was pineapple vanilla coulis, Chartreuse sabayon, aromatic herb (cilantro, basil and parsley) sorbet.

L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon: Les herbes (close up)
Les herbes

The patisserie du jour was a selection of miniature tarts, consisting of sweet rhubarb, rich dark chocolate, tart lemon, sweet and salty peanut caramel, they were enjoyable but not outstanding.

L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon: Patisserie du jour - rhubarb, dark chocolate, lemon, peanut caramel tarts
Patisserie du jour: rhubarb, dark chocolate, lemon, peanut caramel tarts

Le chocolat sensation was chocolate cream, bitter chocolate sorbet and Oreo cookies. The crunchy bits of Oreo cookies added texture to the rich chocolate sorbet and cream, very good.

L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon: Le chocolat sensation
Le chocolat sensation

Then we asked for our check since it was almost 2 pm already. We planned to take a walk at Central Park to relax our stomachs since it was only several hours before our dinner reservation at Per Se. We were very satisfied with our lunch experience at L'Atelier, the food was delicious, the service was good, we'll definitely come back again.


L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon
57 E 57th St
New York, NY 10022
(212) 350-6658

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