“What did you eat?” is a question often asked those who return from a visit to the culinary capital of the world. Before heading to France, I had gotten lots of recommendations from local chefs and friends, read reviews on line, and narrowed our restaurant choices. There were several places that we enjoyed in Paris and Strasbourg because of the food, atmosphere and service. I’ll deal with them in a later post. But one Parisian restaurant was in a category by itself, like we think of Tony’s in St. Louis: L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon.
My first night in the City of Light, I dined at L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon. This was not an experience I ever dreamed of having, but my kids thought it would add to my heft as a food blogger to eat at a place owned by the most starred chef in the world. I didn’t argue. The esteemed chef operates a dozen restaurants in Bangkok, Bordeaux, Hong Kong, Las Vegas, London, Macau, Monaco, Paris, Singapore, Taipei, and Tokyo, with a total of 25 Michelin Guide stars among them.
His Saint Germain location in Paris, the first in the world-wide chain, holds two stars and ranks among the best restaurants in the world. L’Atelier—which means ‘shop of an artist’–serves haute cuisine in a stylized setting. In Paris, the 36-seat counter overlooks the open-plan kitchen as chefs prepare dishes with the precision of brain surgery. Still, it’s a pleasant environment, where chefs sometimes pause to speak with patrons and servers announce each dish as it’s presented. L’Atelier’s website describes the experience as “warm and refined dining” in a black and red-framed décor.
I chose the tasting menu, which was a series of small plates, that had been meticulously assembled for both looks and taste. Below are photos of the gastronomic art show, that I enjoyed over several hours at L’Atelier. (The French dine late and take their time.) Each dish was too pretty to eat, but I did my best.
Le Crabe Royal with thin slices of spicy daikon radish.
Le Caviar with iced salmon ceviche with Peruvian citrus.
Les Girolles: Canterelle mushrooms with artichoke and noodle.
Asian Shrimp, which I substituted for the egg dish on the menu.
Le Fois Gras, goose liver with cherries and almonds in a hibiscus sauce.
L’agneau (lamb) in a thyme-flavored milk with Robuchon’s signature mashed potatoes.
L’agrume, a grapefruit and orange sorbet with crunchy lime.
If you want to give one of Chef Joel Robuchon’s restaurants a whirl, there’s no need to leave the country. He already has one in Las Vegas and plans to open in New York and Miami next year.
Coming up: A look at cafes, bistros, and brasseries. Also tips and recipes from the Paris cooking class. Just give me some time to sort through the thousand photos I took.