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Robuchon


julot-les-pinceaux
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I did not find a Robuchon dedicated thread. Isn't he worth it? And if there's one overarching Robuchon thread, shouldn't it be in the France forum, for purely historical, nationalistic, and all-in-all arbitrary reasons?

Seen from Paris, l'Atelier remains an original concept that offers some very great bites, like their unparalleled sweetbread. But it remains a (very) high end snacking place. And it has too many misses to my taste. And I don't like being rushed. Less again waiting on the sidewalk for being rushed.

I just tried La Table, attracted by the prospect of... well, having a table, as well as the very attractive 55 eur lunch menu including wine, water and coffee. It's a very good meal, and, while ingredients are modest, they are of high quality and the courses served attest to the skill and hard work going on in the kitchen. I particularly liked my green pea soup in that regard. Hard work, simplicity and subtlety: back to the Robuchon basics.

I should also mention a very impressive service, friendly but not intrusive, discreet and efficient. They noticed we were tasting each other's dishes and they discreetly brought an extra set of spoons with each course. Maybe I'm a sucker, but I was impressed.

I have a more extensive review, and pictures, here.

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Hey Julot, have you tried Robuchon in Monaco? We ate there last year and while I enjoyed it, I came away *somewhat* underwhelmed. I can't remember specifics, but I just wasn't wowed IYKWIM. Even the fabled pommes purée weren't up to the dizzying heights I was expecting, and in fact I would prefer the mash at Nicolas le Bec in Lyon.

Maybe I'd just heard too much in advance, but it was a little bit "by numbers".

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Does La Table take reservations?

I think it is hard to compare a place that serves a 55 euro lunch with a $400+ dinner. Or a place that is basically a tapas bar with a real restaurant - with tables.

It might be interesting to try La Table for the same reason I want to try Senderens. To see what chefs I dined with 20 years ago are doing now. We have all gotten older - and perhaps we are in "synch" in terms of simplifying things - including our food. On the other hand - I'm not going to wait on line to sit at a bar - for any chef - anywhere (no problem eating at a bar - that's done all the time in Japan - it's the lack of reservations that I give a big thumbs down to). Robyn

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For me it would be Chateau Robuchon Tokyo. That place gave me back the confidence of eating Robuchon's food after the below average meal at Robuchon Galera Macao. Some of the memorable dishes would be the caviar prepare in 3 ways or sea urchin with the famous pomme puree - the overall experience is great though not as high as let's say the Parisian 3-star

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Does La Table take reservations?

I think it is hard to compare a place that serves a 55 euro lunch  with a $400+ dinner.  Or a place that is basically a tapas bar with a real restaurant - with tables.

It might be interesting to try La Table for the same reason I want to try Senderens.  To see what chefs I dined with 20 years ago are doing now.  We have all gotten older - and perhaps we are in "synch" in terms of simplifying things - including our food.  On the other hand - I'm not going to wait on line to sit at a bar - for any chef - anywhere (no problem eating at a bar - that's done all the time in Japan - it's the lack of reservations that I give a big thumbs down to).  Robyn

La Table takes reservations indeed, and the tasting is 150.

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Hey Julot, have you tried Robuchon in Monaco? We ate there last year and while I enjoyed it, I came away *somewhat* underwhelmed. I can't remember specifics, but I just wasn't wowed IYKWIM. Even the fabled pommes purée weren't up to the dizzying heights I was expecting, and in fact I would prefer the mash at Nicolas le Bec in Lyon.

Maybe I'd just heard too much in advance, but it was a little bit "by numbers".

I have also been to Robuchon Monte Carlo last year and I totally agree with your comments. Nice atmosphere, very decent food, good service but at no point did I have a big wow experience. The famous pommes purée, in my case served with suckling pig, were so heavy on the butter side that I could not finish my little bowl, and that means a lot if something is as delicious as this. I remember the purée at Jamin back in 1992 being a little bit lighter.

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A good indicator is if I want to go back to the same restaurant. Between L'Atelier and La Table, I would return to L'Atelier.

At l'Atelier, we didn't feel rushed. Actually I was able to book two places for lunch on Monday and I was late by a good 20 minutes and had a long leisurely lunch. The sommelier was very helpful and the food had more hits than misses. I regretted not ordering the baby pig so may go back. Also we were two seats away from Ferran Adria only we didn't know it at that time because he looked a bit chubbier than in his photo, not until he left and all the staff shook his hand. It was last autumn, at the beginning of the El Bulli 2008 reservation window, and my lunch companion ran out to be photographed with the great man and secured us a much coveted reservation. So yeah, this place gives me a lot of warm feelings.

La Table on the other hand was quite depressing. The interior I felt was awashed in too much greys and dark silks, it felt like a coffeehouse and was missing a certain buzz. The food was fine but desserts were so-so. We were a party of 8 and 7 of us ordered the lunch menu which included a demi-bottle of wine each. They placed the wine just out of our reach and did not top up our glasses until I reminded them so black marks for service right away. Pricewise I prefer to spend it at Restaurant Thierry Burlot, seems to me also there are many places in that category especially for lunch menus.

Pureed potatoes at both places did not impress me much, as much as the one at Atelier de Maitre Albert, because I couldn't really taste the potatoes over all the creamy dairy.

Edited by tonkichi (log)
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Not a big fan of the potato purée either -- I think this is a good example of a dish that requires the real Robuchon in the kitchen. But I would heartily disagree about the comparison with Thierry Burlot, which I think is very mediocre compared to the level of cooking of Ales. But sure la Table is a relatively casual place, and while I am very excited about the 55eur menu, I am not sure I would go for the 150 tasting. I mean, for that price, I can have the tastin menu at Gordon Ramsay's in Versailles.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I went to the NY branch and found it much more impressive than both Paris branches. Having the tasting menu there (unlike in Paris) made plenty of sense, and chef Suga actually had something to say about the season and the ingredients. It started with a nice amuse of lemon and vanilla gelée with fennel cream -- it rinsed the mouth and awakened the taste buds at the same time.

The pea soup on a mint jelly was of intense clarity and purity, its taste was like one simple and perfect line on a white screen.

A panna cotta of asparagus was a brilliant dish, a brilliant and complex harmony of savour, emphasising wonderful ingredients. The langoustine carpaccio, with poppy seed, was another wonder of harmony (both played the same role in the meal, as my wife had the asparagus and I had the crudo).

The foie gras dish was totally foie gras, even with the reinforcement of eel: rich and intense, with caramelised brown sugar on top, crème fraiche, espelette and pepper on the side. In a way, it was another rinser like the amuse, only rich instead of light.

Scallops were enormous and well-cooked but, quite frankly, this US trip has not convinced me of the gustative interest of those Maine scallops. It was cooked with Bordier seaweed butter, which is never bad. An Amadai fish in a lily bulb broth had not strong taste identity, and its main interest was the crisp on top of the perfectly cooked fish. On the whole, I was less convinced by the savory dishes than I was by the cold starters, with the exception of the best beef I ever had.

I also exclude from said savories what I considered the culmination of the meal, a dish of morels and asparagus, some ham and a poached egg inside a toast. That was brilliant and delicious, the juices of veal and morels and the running yok mixing in the end make the end even better than the beginning.

The sweetbread was good, but nothing like l'Atelier Paris though -- it's more meaty than melty. The Kobe beef, as I previewed, was extraordinarily good and quite frankly the best I ever had. To be fair, it was my first high quality Kobe. Is it beef or is it butter?

Desserts were also wonderful, methinks, especially the grapefruit one. They showed the same high precision and mastered seasoning that the whole meal had shown, relying on very meticulous mise en place. Talking with the chef later he confirmed that impression that, given the many constraint arousing from being in the Four Seasons in NY, and his commitment to high quality, his thinking of the dishes revolved around the organisation he needed to send them.

It also led us to a wider reflection on the nature of Robuchon's art. I knew already that Robuchon is that encyclopedist cook, excelling in just everything. Discussing with Suga, I realised that he had another precious quality, that of obtaining what he wants from people working with him. Another striking Robuchon quality is his set of value from another time, especially the dedication and commitment he inspires -- of course you work endless hours, are yelled at and make no money: you get to cook great food!

A final word about the service which I found tip top --- friendly, efficient, making you feel special and taken care of. At 190$ for the tasting menu, l'Atelier is expensive but it is a much higher end restaurant than the Paris ones, a real fine dining experience.

Pictures of the meal are here.

Edited by julot-les-pinceaux (log)
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Julot,

The only scallops worth eating in the U.S. (and in my mind they are the best in the world) are the bay scallops from either Nantucket or The Vineyard. They usually appear in early November and depending on the weather, last until just after the New Year. Small (but not tiny) and as sweet as can be, just briefly cooked (really poached) in butter over a low flame, there are few seafood dishes as good.

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Julot,

The only scallops worth eating in the U.S. (and in my mind they are the best in the world) are the bay scallops from either Nantucket or The Vineyard. They usually appear in early November  and depending on the weather, last until just after the New Year. Small (but not tiny) and as sweet as can be, just briefly cooked (really poached) in butter over a low flame, there are few seafood dishes as good.

Now that's a great tip, thanks -- I'll remember it next christmas. And it confirms me in the general rule: no scallop in the summer, on either side of the Atlantic.

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Just FYI - the legal season for scallops in Florida is only in the summer. Not much chance of eating them though - because commercial harvest is prohibited - and recreational harvest is very limited. Robyn

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