Sunday, July 05, 2009

L'Atelier Joel Robuchon: Worth every Bite and Sip

I had seen it written up as several things. First of all, it is always called "modern." Now, I can be modern: I like modern art, modern architecture (occasionally) and certainly modern fashion, but modern food somehow conjures up images of over-priced raw vegetables artfully arranged on a plate. Now why isn't that appealing?

I had also seen it called a sushi bar. I like sushi. In fact, I've been to several of Nobu's restaurants around the world (my favorite being in Miami) and had a lovely time, but that isn't why I come to Paris. I am much more a bistro girl, where I can get to know the waiter in a nice, but not-so-stuffy environment, and get his recommendations on food and wine.

In the end, then, the name Joel Robuchon is what attracted me to the restaurant. He has been called "Chef of the Century" by a group far wiser than I, the best French craftsman as far back as 1976 and currently has several restaurants around the world for a total of 25 Michelin stars- more than any chef in the world. If that wasn't enough (and it wasn't-- I can be a bit of an anti-snob), I also recently finished an autiobiography by Patricia Wells, the food and cookbook writer based in Paris, who speaks very kindly of Joel and his attention to detail. So I went.

It's fair to say my expectations in terms of ambiance were pretty low, but I was truly stunned at how much I enjoyed the evening. Not only was the "modern, sushi bar" intriguing, but it was actually inviting. The open kitchen concept provided more a feeling of cooking with friends (who can cook really, really well) than a formal, haute cuisine dinner. In addition, the service was attentive and helpful, and the staff in the open kitchen created more the feeling of a well-choreographed performance than an intense pressure-cooker. All that said, both the food and wine certainly lived up to Mr. Robuchon's reputation in both the a la carte and tasting menu selections.

In the end, although an evening at L'Atelier may be a splurge, it is filled with unexpected pleasures in every bite and sip.

Reservations highly recommended.

L'Atelier Joel Robuchon
5 rue du Montalembert
7th arrondisement
Metro: Rue du Bac

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PS- Image courtesy of Joel Robuchon and the L'Atelier Joel Robuchon.