On our second night in Paris we had a reservation at L’Atelier Saint-Germain de Joel Robuchon, number 12 on the World’s 50 Best list. This was the polar opposite of our very late dinner the night before at Le Chateaubriand, we ate 6:30pm (as this is the only time they take reservations) and it was a slick, swanky fine dining experience. I even wore a frock!
I wont lie, I was relieved when we arrived and they actually had our reservation. It’s always a pleasant surprise when things go to plan. We were taken straight through to the dining room, which was unlike anywhere I had ever eaten before. I’ve heard it described as casual meets contemporary and I think that really hits the nail on the head. You sit on high red stools around the shiny black bar, looking into an open kitchen. Everything is very dark and neat, a bit like you might expect a batchelor pad to be styled. Despite my reservations about eating at the bar and sitting next to strangers, it’s much more comfortable than I would have expected and meant that I could easily get the attention of a waiter without feeling that the service was imposing.
Anyhow, enough about the set up, let’s talk about the food. It was amazing! We went for the tasting menu and after 3.5 hours and 10 courses I still wanted more. Not because I was hungry but because it was all just so wonderful that I never wanted it to end.
It was one of the most enjoyable meals I’ve ever had, helped along by a good setting and some absolutely delicious wine.
We started off with an amuse-bouche of white asparagus served in a sea urchin shell.
Next was caviar served on potato with sour cream and olive oil. I don’t think I’ve ever had caviar before but this seemed like a great combo to me. I was practically licking the plate.
Then asparagus soup. Sounds boring, I know. Soup always does to me. I promise you it was anything but.
The chicken and leek gyoza was brilliant. As all of the courses up until now had been very rich, this acted as a bit of a palate cleanser and I’m sure that was the intention. It was really fresh but at the same time it was bold and fragrant. One of my favourite courses.
A very rich course followed, pan fried foie gras with young crunchy almonds, crisp apple and a hibiscus flower dressing. It was really good.
The next course was eggs en cocotte but Mr E doesn’t eat eggs (very annoying when it comes to breakfasts) so he asked for the langoustine ravioli instead and the chef was more than happy to oblige.
He missed out because the eggs were magnificent, a real highlight. The waitress said that I should dig right down to the bottom to get the parsley mousse. It was delicious. The eggs were soft boiled and layered up with a light crab flavoured cream and black truffle.
The fish course was red snapper. This must be in season as we’d had it the night before as well. I much preferred this version, the tomatoes were really sweet and the tapenade was a great accompaniment.
For main course there was a choice. I went for the baby lamb chops which I was told were a signature dish and would be the best lamb I’d ever eaten. I love lamb so there wasn’t much persuasion needed. However, although it was very good, I don’t think it quite lived up to the promise. The mash on the other hand, was out of this world.
Mr E had the beef, he allowed me a mouthful and it was beautiful.
He also decided to have a glass of red wine with his main. We had been drinking a really delicious bottle of Sancerre but we’d just about finished it off by this stage. The waitress suggested he try “Simon” a rather large bottle from the Languedoc-Roussillon region. She did an expert job of pouring from such a large bottle.
I asked for a desert wine and expected the wine list, instead I was presented with a large glass of wine. She said that I should try it and then she would tell me what it was. I wish I could remember because it was one of the nicest desert wines that I have ever tasted. Almost a cross between a white wine and a desert wine. Not too sweet but with loads of deep rich flavour.
The first desert was an apple soup. Again, after a lot of rich food this acted as another palate cleanser. It was amazing. Really cold, fresh and deliciously sweet with added texture from the crisp apple on top.
I was really disappointed when we got to the last course because I was having a marvellous time. Everything I’d put in my mouth had been great and I was thoroughly enjoying the wine. However, I was pleased to see that it would end on a high!
I’m a chocolate desert woman, there’s no two ways about it. As far as I’m concerned, unless I’m going to have more than one desert then it needs to be chocolate. I’ve been known to order tasting menus only on the basis that I could swap the desert for something chocolatey to fulfil my addiction.
The was no need for that here though, the grand finale was five different textures of chocolate all mixed into one desert. There was ganache, mousse, crumble, cake and a shiny chocolate ring on top. Heaven.
A little coffee and we were done. Before I stumbled out of the restaurant feeling nothing but content I nipped to the ladies, during which time Joel Robuchon appeared and stood where I had been sitting shaking hands with the staff and saying goodbye. I can’t believe I missed him, it was a nice bonus though to know that he’d been on the premises overseeing things.
So that was my meal at L’Atelier Saint-Germain de Joel Robuchon. I absolutely loved this place and would go back in a heartbeat if anyone would like to take me? The food, service, ambience and wine were all wonderful and I would thoroughly recommend it to anyone going to Paris for a special occasion. 9/10.