Sunday, October 15, 2006

Girls' lunch out at L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon

I went for lunch Saturday at L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon with four of the five other girls from my class, this being the first time I've been to a real "celebrity name" place (albeit unstarred) in Paris... um, or anywhere, actually.
Ridiculous pricing aside (i.e. Astronomical for certain dishes), I had a great time. In particular, service was very very friendly and casual, and the atmosphere made us feel comfortable in being giddy and silly and take a zillion photos. I started with The Most Expensive Ravioli on Earth, otherwise known as La Langoustine en Ravioli Truffé à l'Étuvée de Chou Vert-- langoustine ravioli with foie gras & truffle sauce and braised green cabbage. It was decadent and utterly fantastic, but in my opinion still does not justify the pricetag. Other people's starters included delicious suckling pork chops (cooked sous vide then seared), iberico ham (you can sort of see the whole ham in the picture above) and an eggplant millefeuille. Next I had the glazed foie gras-stuffed quail, accompanied by a teensy herb salad and a dollop of Robuchon's famous Insanity Mashed Potaoes (equal parts butter and potato)-- jazzed up with chives and crowned with white truffle. The quail was quite tasty, but in all honesty reminded me, and my friend who had also ordered it, of Chinese barbeque. Granted, I believe that was the concept, but if I want Chinese barbeque I can walk down to Belleville and feast til I'm sick for probably 15 euros. The potatoes, however, were another story. These were potatoes from the cafeteria of a private school on the top cloud in heaven. As rich in pure truffle flavor as they were in butter, they were incomparable to any other potatoey preparation I've ever had. Other main dishes my friends had, which I did not try, included foie-stuffed cabbage-wrapped pigeon, Rhône valley milk-fed lamb chops and half-smoked salmon with cucumber.
And then of course came dessert. We shared 5 different things, my favorites probably being the tart assortment and the Mara des Bois (both shown above). Of the tarts, my favorite was a rather unusual one which was just a thin pastry crust smeared with a mild, creamy honey and crusted with lots of cinnamon. The Mara des Bois was nothing outrageously special, but the kataifi topping was addictively crisp. I would say none of the desserts blew us away, but the 10 euro price was (amazingly!) reasonable, comparatively speaking, and they were all good.
Despite the sucker punch to my wallet, I had a fun time and I'm glad I went. I daresay I would even like to go back, armed with a better concept of how to order... it was quite clear that certain dishes were much bigger than certain others, and/or cheaper, and/or simply better of course. But then again, there's still so many places I haven't yet been to at all.....

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