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L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon NYC (2006 - 2008)


SeanDirty
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Well, not currently my favorite, actually. But close. :cool: Anyway, I hate to make this thing run on and on, but we couldn't leave you without dessert. As always, pictures can be found HERE.

Dessert at L’Atelier usually began with a palate cleanser titled Le Yuzu Vert, a small shot glass of green yuzu granité with a lemon verbena gelée and a thin layer of cachaça, which is the national drink of Brazil. The tartness of the cachaça was moderated by the slightly herbal gelée, making the mouth-feel very fresh rather than bitter and tongue-cringing. This dish was served ice cold which further amplified its refreshing power. A larger portion of this would be overkill; but as a segue into the sweeter end of the meal, this dish does a fine job.

On later visits, this was replaced by coconut ravioli with lemon-mascarpone mousse. A delightfully successful result of spherification, the coconut “ravioli” bridged the gap between liquid and solid. An ultra-thin film gave way to the creamy center, making for a burst of coconut flavor on the tongue. This delicious “ravioli” stayed afloat in a pleasantly tart lemon gelée, and beneath that was a luxurious mousse of lemon and mascarpone. Truly a stunning transition to dessert, it both cleansed and reinvigorated the palate for the treats still to come.

Less successful, though, was the most recent pre-dessert Aaron sampled: almond panna cotta with strawberry-tomato confit, and strawberry foam. What sounded like a tasty combination on paper was surprisingly bland and ultimately lackluster. The texture was not the problem; there was a nice progression from custard-like to light and airy. It was the overly muted flavors. Neither almond, strawberry, or tomato were really able to stand up and get noticed. Definitely not one of his favorites.

Now how can we even begin to talk about Le Sucre? It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what makes this sugar sphere filled with raspberry mousse so special, since there’s so much to it. Is it the perfectly spherical shape? The beautiful color? The spectrum of textures and temperatures? The sweet flavor of the airy mousse tamed by the gelée? The gentle cracking sensation from the first bite? Actually, it’s all of the above. This is certainly an exceptional dessert. The paper-thin sugar piece is blown into a perfect sphere in a process very similar to glass blowing. The thin sphere is then filled with a duo of ethereal fraises des bois and mascarpone mousse, set off-centered on a clear glass bowl, and garnished with a tart raspberry and blackberry coulis, pistachio dust, Kirsch gelée and vanilla ice cream. The precision of this sphere is almost alarming — a perfectly round sphere, this is no oblate spheroid or any nonsense like that. The balance of the flavor is also impressive, with the sweetness of the mousse filling contrasting very nicely with the slightly salty pistachio dust. Texturally, this dish is, in all honesty, brilliant. With the first shatter of the shell, tiny crispy pieces of sugar are let loose into the mousse, creating a lovely textural equilibrium — each bite is just as interesting as the previous. A later incarnation of the same dish included saffron mousse and pomegranite curd — an equally stunning combination. And aside from the flavor and texture, this dish is absolutely gorgeous. Just look at it! We do hope to see its production with our own eyes one day, but until then this beautiful creation will remain somewhat of a mystery. It should be noted that Le Sucre has since been taken off the L’Atelier dessert menu, perhaps somewhat due to seasonality; but we do hope that it comes back shortly. It’s a masterpiece.

While Le Sucre the most interesting dessert we’ve ever had, there are still some others that need to be mentioned. Le Baba, for instance, includes a large piece of yeast cake soaked in rum, set atop diced pineapple infused with fresh thyme, and topped with caramel ice cream and a luscious sabayon. The strong hit of the booze and the herbal note of the fresh thyme kept this dish from being overly sweet. The baba, as always, acted as a delicious sponge as it soaked up the flavors of the other components. Certainly a very tasty combination and a nice change of pace for those who may are looking for a good non-chocolate option.

Also quite nice was La Poire, an almond soufflé served outside the ramekin with poached pear and bitter almond ice cream. Granted, the fact that the soufflé was served outside of a ceramic dish should have no effect on flavor; but it certainly had an effect on temperature as this cooled down very quickly, especially with the adjacent ice cream. Additionally, one of my favorite parts of a soufflé in general is the crispy layer on the sides and bottoms where the batter sticks to the ceramic. This did not have that. That being said, this had a memorable almond flavor, and pairing it with poached pears, slightly bitter almond ice cream, and toasted almonds was a very tasty combination.

Not quite so nice was a dessert simply entitled Le Soufflé, a caramel soufflé that came resting in a shallow pool of chocolate soup and bitter orange ice cream. We each took the first bite — confusion. Then a second bite — disappointment. There was no third bite. This was absolutely horrible. The ice cream was utterly tasteless. The caramel had been burnt, lending an exaggerated bitterness to the soufflé that was not to be tamed by the other accompaniments. The chocolate soup was like an insipid, clumpy, unstirred serving of Swiss Miss. Just a terrible dessert all-around. This remains the one and only thing we’ve ever sent back at L’Atelier.

Fortunately, other choices offered fabulous consolation. They say the first step to recovery is to admit the problem, and I will be the first to tell you: I have a chestnut addiction. So when I saw Le Marron on the menu, I knew it would one day be mine. This dish consists of chestnuts with liquid chocolate-filled croquettes, dates, and a chestnut soup. The chocolate croquettes were incredible — self-contained bursts of cocoa flavor that literally exploded in your mouth. The warm chestnut soup was delicious on its own, with a rich chocolate sauce lining the outside edge of it, allowing a bittersweet harmony in each spoonful. When I had this, the condensed milk ice cream was literally flavorless; but Aaron ensures him that this was a fluke, as every time he’s had it (and there were many), the sweetness of the ice cream brightened up and carried the rich flavors of the chestnut and chocolate wonderfully. The chopped dates were also a great addition. Aside from Le Sucre, this was by far Aaron’s favorite dessert, and one of his favorite dishes at L’Atelier, period.

Not usually something either of us would order, a surprisingly good choice was Le Chocolat Noir, a molten chocolate cake topped with a chocolate tuile, vanilla ice cream, and served with coffee mousse and whipped cream. My first though: why the coffee?! Nobody likes the coffee jelly beans; why would anyone like the coffee mousse? I need not have worried, though, as the flavor of the mousse was very gentle and by no means offensive. My favorite part of this dish was definitely the semi-liquid chocolate in the center of the chocolate cake. The center didn’t quite ooze out; but, it hung out just around the cooked/undercooked line. It wasn’t too sweet, either, which was really appreciated.

On my latest visit, I sampled Le Sensation Chocolat crèmeaux au chocolat guanaja, sorbet de cacao au biscuit oreo, ground oreo shell encrusting a thick chocolate mousse and covered with a ring of guanaja chocolate. With each bite, the crunchy bits of oreo weaved their way into the creamy mousse, making each spoonful interesting. The dish was actually served at room temperature, so when I cracked the ring chocolate, it actually melted rather than got in the way. This might be the darkest colored dessert I’ve ever had; nearly perfectly black. Yet as I ate it, he couldn’t help but think of Jell-o chocolate pudding. Not such a bad thing, I suppose, but considering the apparent complexity of this dish, I doubt that’s the first association the pastry chef would like to come to mind.

A cool and refreshing alternative to the chocolate options was Le Pamplemousse, chilled grapefruit segments with an olive-scented gelée and and mint sorbet. Definitely on the lighter side of desserts, just in the vicinity of ordering sorbet or fresh fruit, to which my response is always “Get a real dessert!” This dish lets the bitter flavor of the grapefruit come through a bit too strongly, which I never particularly enjoy, so I probably would not get this a second time. That being said, the mint increased the cool-winter-breeze effect of this dish. Afterwards, I felt like my mouth took an ice cold shower. The olive-scented gelée was barely detectable, overwhelmed by the grapefruit’s acidity.

On another visit Aaron sampled Le Riz, a milky rice pudding served with caramelized apple and rosemary ice cream. This had very good potential. Unfortunately the portion was microscopic, with two tasteless strips of puff pastry making up the majority of the dish’s volume. The sweet and herbal combination of caramelized apple and rosemary was a delicious one, and the rice pudding itself (an entire teaspoon’s worth, no less) was very tasty. Ultimately, though, the portioning left this dish a little out of balance in his opinion.

Being a slight hypocrite (see two paragraphs up), one night I just felt like having ice cream and sorbet. Les Glaces et Sorbets du Jour offered just that. There were perfect quenelles of mint and vanilla ice cream, as well as mango and grapefruit sorbet, resting on a bed of fresh blueberries and a few coarse chunks of vanilla bean gelée. The best of the bunch was probably the creamy mint flavor, with a refreshing herbal aftertaste. A thin tuile stuck in the top provided a nice textural contrast, and while essentially flavorless, a light foam atop the ice cream did make for a pretty presentation.

Another simple dessert that was nonetheless quite satisfying was Les Tartes Tradition, a selection of miniature tarts. The five flavors included: lemon; dark chocolate; apple; milk chocolate & salted peanut; and cinnamon. Aaron found the best of the bunch to be the milk chocolate & salted peanut tart. The texture of the chocolate portion was not unlike that of a Tootsie Roll, and this rested on layer of crunchy and salty peanut brittle. Great contrast of both flavor and texture. The other tarts were very enjoyable as well, offering a whole spectrum of tastes: sweet caramelized apple, pleasantly tart citrus, rich bittersweet chocolate, and spicy cinnamon. With the tarts sized the way they are, this might also make a nice round of petit fours if shared among two people. (Or so I would think. Aaron never really wanted to share…)

Occasionally the gods would smile upon us in the form of a plate of cannelés at the end of a meal. These wonderful little treats from Bordeaux are as tasty as they are beautiful. Essentially small cork-sized, rum-soaked pieces of brioche, they get a wonderfully caramelized exterior from the copper pans in which they are traditionally cooked. A crisp, slightly chewy outside gives way to the boozy sponge-like inside. L’Atelier’s version is certainly commendable, if not quite in the same league as Petrossian Bakery on 7th Ave. near 58th Street.

Lastly, absolutely no L’Atelier experience is complete without a small plate of macarons. I’m pretty sure there has never been a time when I haven’t asked for five or six more rounds a few extra of these wonderful French delicacies. Flavors we’ve encountered have included raspberry-mascarpone, chocolate, and lemon, each of which I consider to be the freshest and best tasting macarons available in Manhattan. Period. Aaron agrees — there is no better place to enjoy our favorite French pastry. There are three important characteristics that I always consider, all of which L’Atelier gets right nearly every time. First is clearly the flavor. When dealing with certain varieties like citrus or chocolate, it’s really easy for macarons to become cloying. There is a fine line between sweet and too sweet; and in my experience, especially with lemon and raspberry, I find them almost always too sweet. Not at L’Atelier. Second is the texture — one of the most divine sensations is the first bite into a macaron where your teeth gently sink through meringue without any pressure. When a macaron has been sitting around for a while, the point where the crème touches the meringue become a bit soggy and get chewy — I believe there should be no chewiness in a good macaron. Again, never a problem here — always fresh at L’Atelier. Third, is the meringue to crème ratio — too much of either one kills the gentle macaron, and often violates the first and/or second rules as well. I think that the ideal height of the ganache layer is around a fourth of the total height of the cookie. L’Atelier always get this right, too! Every time, these treats are such a satisfying way to cap off a meal. This makes L’Atelier a nice post-dinner destination for a second or third dessert, coffee, and a few tasty cookies.

One of the many elements that makes this restaurant so strong is the portioning. Most tapas-sized portions are just enough to share; but, not nearly enough to cause palate fatigue. It’s also the perfect size for ordering several dishes or, at times, just one or two and a light drink. While the dishes clearly reflect the organized passion of chefs Robuchon and Suga, the experience is customizable such that it literally molded to our cravings every single time.

A first time visitor to New York might be overwhelmed by the weight of his Michelin guide. Actually, this culinary capitol is intimidating for food passionate residents alike. But we can say fairly strongly that if we had the chance to visit only one restaurant in this special city, it would be L’Atelier. This workshop has consistently provided, plate after plate, dishes that have reminded us why we love food so much. We can only hope that you have the opportunity to indulge here in the near future … just don’t forget your appetite.

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Wow... detailed write up!!

I had the $190 tasting and it was one of the better meals I have had.

The Langoustine carpaccio was ethereal.

I really liked sitting at the bar, and that it didnt feel pretentious or stuffy.

Their house Rose champagne was really good too!

Edited by heightsgtltd (log)
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Those are some great write ups, kudos to both of you.

I have to ask, I still can't seem to understand the pricing at this restaurant, primarily for the a la carte items, they just seem so outrageously astronomical. For example, $98 for one of the egg dishes? Can either of you, or both explain your thoughts on it, as you seem to be two very well informed regulars.

For the record, I have eaten at the Las Vegas branch, and it was one of the most memorable meals I have had in awhile, I had the tasting menu, and at that time, I believe it was $125.

thanks!

"A man's got to believe in something...I believe I'll have another drink." -W.C. Fields

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Those are some great write ups, kudos to both of you.

I have to ask, I still can't seem to understand the pricing at this restaurant, primarily for the a la carte items, they just seem so outrageously astronomical.  For example, $98 for one of the egg dishes?  Can either of you, or both explain your thoughts on it, as you seem to be two very well informed regulars.

For the record, I have eaten at the Las Vegas branch, and it was one of the most memorable meals I have had in awhile, I had the tasting menu, and at that time, I believe it was $125.

thanks!

I'm glad you enjoyed them, Swicks. You're certainly not alone in your thoughts about the prices. I agree that the pricing scheme can be maddening at times. In the case of the L'Oeuf de Poule and Le Caviar Oscietre (the cappellini & caviar dish which carried the same price tag if ordered a la carte; now are both $125 I believe), I think that as AvsKick21 pointed out, it's the generous mound of osetra caviar that's the culprit. Such a price tag carries high expectations, which were certainly met, even surpassed, with the egg. The cappelini on the other hand would have felt like a waste had it not been part of the tasting menu.

As for the pricing of the tasting menu at the various branches, Adam will have a better idea about this than I do, but from what I've read, I get the impression that the Vegas branch is actually the cheapest of all of them, and New York the most expensive. I don't recall the exact prices, but I'm pretty certain both Tokyo and Paris (also both on our site) were cheaper than NY.

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Thanks for the feedback! Tokyo and Paris are surprisingly cheaper than New York, I'd say on average 20-30% including tax, gratuity, and conversion from USD. Not really sure why.

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Those are some great write ups, kudos to both of you.

I have to ask, I still can't seem to understand the pricing at this restaurant, primarily for the a la carte items, they just seem so outrageously astronomical.  For example, $98 for one of the egg dishes?  Can either of you, or both explain your thoughts on it, as you seem to be two very well informed regulars.

For the record, I have eaten at the Las Vegas branch, and it was one of the most memorable meals I have had in awhile, I had the tasting menu, and at that time, I believe it was $125.

thanks!

I'm glad you enjoyed them, Swicks. You're certainly not alone in your thoughts about the prices. I agree that the pricing scheme can be maddening at times. In the case of the L'Oeuf de Poule and Le Caviar Oscietre (the cappellini & caviar dish which carried the same price tag if ordered a la carte; now are both $125 I believe), I think that as AvsKick21 pointed out, it's the generous mound of osetra caviar that's the culprit. Such a price tag carries high expectations, which were certainly met, even surpassed, with the egg. The cappelini on the other hand would have felt like a waste had it not been part of the tasting menu.

As for the pricing of the tasting menu at the various branches, Adam will have a better idea about this than I do, but from what I've read, I get the impression that the Vegas branch is actually the cheapest of all of them, and New York the most expensive. I don't recall the exact prices, but I'm pretty certain both Tokyo and Paris (also both on our site) were cheaper than NY.

Yeah i understand the items with caviar, of course that is going to jack up the price significantly, but as far as the other items go, it just seems that for as semi-casual as the place is the prices are as high or higher than some of the highest end tables in NYC (extreme generalization here). Now clearly the concept and place are unique and it sounds like the price tag isn't really affecting business or anything but the pricing always confused me. The tasting menu pricing while a bit high, seemed to make much more sense than the a la carte pricing.

But in all honesty, I'll be damned if I wouldnt go back for the baby oysters and the egg with chantrelles, foam and parsley puree.

"A man's got to believe in something...I believe I'll have another drink." -W.C. Fields

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[...] it just seems that for as semi-casual as the place is the prices are as high or higher than some of the highest end tables in NYC (extreme generalization here)

Oh I certainly agree. But as long as the food stayed at a level as high or higher than the other NYC restaurants you mention (and that was usually the case), I figured it was justified.

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[...] it just seems that for as semi-casual as the place is the prices are as high or higher than some of the highest end tables in NYC (extreme generalization here)

Oh I certainly agree. But as long as the food stayed at a level as high or higher than the other NYC restaurants you mention (and that was usually the case), I figured it was justified.

I suppose you are right, in addition you don't have to deal with all the trappings of fine dining if that is something you don't like. The restaurant certainly occupies a unique niche.

"A man's got to believe in something...I believe I'll have another drink." -W.C. Fields

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I had dinner at Atelier Robuchon on Saturday night and can not improve on Tupac's review.

The amuse was the foie gras parmesan foam. The bread and butter was amazing, with a little fleur de sel on the butter plate to sprinkle, or not.

We started with six small plates. Carpaccio of scallop and sea urchin with citrus..amazing. Then the avocado and crab, which I liked a lot more than Tupac. The eel and foie gras did not really work for me, the foie gras and citrus, butter emulsion did. I thought that the Langoustine Papillote was boring, however the sweet breads were perfect and soft on the inside. It is rare that they are properly made.

Mains were a deconstructed tete de veau (unctions and full of gelatin and taste) and the quail for the DH, also, excellent. Oh, and the signature mashed potatoes.

Desert was that chcoclate pudding-like thing that Tupac mentioned and whose review was dead on and the other desert we can not remember. Petit fours were two chocolate caramels. No macaron..Boo.

The service was professional and attentive without an attitude. The sommelier was wonderful (she did not have the wine we ordered and served us another excellent one without trying jack up the price).

The food was very good and well worth the price tag. The crowd was serious about food, local and older. The place was not booked solid.

Compared to my dinner at Bouley last week, that pretentious, fussy, over hyped restaurant, with lousy food and snotty service with a massive dose of undeserved attitude, Robuchon is an oasis of of fine, sometimes exciting tastes. Everything is done with great care and caring for the diner. I could eat there every night.

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  • 2 months later...

A recent lunch at L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon indicates that there have been some changes to the Robuchon repertoire (apologies in advance if any of this is repeated in posts above). For a more detailed review and pictures, visit the ulterior epicure

1. The foie gras with Parmesan foam amuse is now a more summer-like shot of tomato gazpacho (served room temperature).

2. At the time of our meal, the portion sizes seemed to have increased noticeably, but not significantly (at least, for the dishes that I repeated from my first visit, and with the exception of La Langoustine). Looking back at my photos, however, it seems not to be the case. Has anyone noticed a difference?

3. Run, don't walk, to L'Atelier for the "Multi-Saveurs" dessert. You have to like chocolate and red fruits.

4."Le Sucre" is off the menu now. Apparently, the pastry chef who invented it has been re-stationed in the Tokyo bureau, and along went the dessert.

5. For those who are interested, Joel Robuchon is slated to be in the restaurant next in September.

6. First time trying "La Lotte." It makes me never want to order monkfish at a restaurant other than L'AdJR again.

7. "La Langoustine" is now wrapped in rice paper, not brik dough.

8. I find it terribly confusing that they have three scallop dishes all entitled, simply, "Le Saint Jacques." There are also three "La Langoustine" dishes.

9. I cannot emphasize how good the bread at L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon is. My friend inhaled the entire basket (which, I found terribly disgusting, even though I completely understood how it could be done). The Kalamata olive-studded fococcia was life-altering. They said that they make the breads in the building (it's a different kitchen in the hotel), but they are specifically made for and at the direction of L'Atelier.

10. Many of the (what seemed like) iconic dishes from it's first year are now gone. No more spaghetti with caviar. No more sea urchin with cauliflower (and the circle of green dots). Spaghetti is now an (inelegant) bowl of tangled noodles in a rich, creamy (and VERY buttery) broth with a generous helping of morels. It is rife with Parmesan. The flavor was extremely rich and bold. I could only have two small bites. My carb fiend friend ate the rest.

Here's what we had (* dishes I've had before):

La Langoustine*

Le Saint Jacques (seared diver scallop with seaweed butter on scallop shell)

L'Anguille* (eel and foie)

Le Saint Jacques (carpaccio of diver scallop with sea urchin roe)

Ris de Veau (roasted sweetbreads with spring laurel stuffed with bacon)

L'Amadai*

La Lotte (monkfish with pine nuts, sun-dried tomatoes, capers, and chorizo)

Spaghetti (with morels and Parmesan)

Multi-Saveurs (spiced red fruits, light jivara ganache, ginger ice cream)

Les Herbes (pineapple-vanilla coulis, chartreuse sabayon, and aromatic herb sorbet)

Lunch for the two of us came to somewhere north of $300 after tax and tip. We had no wine.

Edited by ulterior epicure (log)

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

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I must say that is a particularly delicious sounding menu and I tend not to put too much stock into menu descriptions.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

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From a circular that I received by email from The Four Seasons:

We invite you to join us in L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon before heading off to the theatre or an event around the city.

L'Atelier's new three-course prix-fixe menu, offered daily from 5:30 pm, includes a choice of appetizer, entree and dessert.

The menu is priced at $59* per person.

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

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From a circular that I received by email from The Four Seasons:

We invite you to join us in L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon before heading off to the theatre or an event around the city.

L'Atelier's new three-course prix-fixe menu, offered daily from 5:30 pm, includes a choice of appetizer, entree and dessert.

The menu is priced at $59* per person.

Ulterior, this is really surprising. Atelier is one of my favorite places in NYC, but it's not known for being affordable.

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My guess is that it's basically going to the the same, if not very similar, to the 3-course lunch "Menu L'Express," which is the same price.

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

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My guess is that it's basically going to the the same, if not very similar, to the 3-course lunch "Menu L'Express," which is the same price.

Right, but to offer this for dinner suggests that business is not what it should be.

The next step would be brunch!

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  • 3 weeks later...
My guess is that it's basically going to the the same, if not very similar, to the 3-course lunch "Menu L'Express," which is the same price.

It's not, actually. It is a dedicated menu featuring in particular the roast chicken you can see rotating in the tournebroche at the end of the room.

I just reviewed l'Atelier NY put did so in the all-Robuchon thread on the France forum: http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?act=ST...=0#entry1577390

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  • 3 months later...

So it's been months since anyone's said anything about this restaurant... I'm not living in NYC right now, and frankly I have no clue how it's doing these days. But I do know we finally figured out a not-stupid-looking way of adding videos to our posts, so you can now check out a video of the late, great L'Atelier dessert Le Sucre HERE.

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I had dinner there recently. It was delicious, but I have to say, not as amazing as my previous visit. I was with a couple of non-foodies, so tasting menu was out of the question this time, which was too bad.

The definite winner of the night, by far, was the eel with smoked foie gras, a match made in heaven, specially carefully layered and caramelized as it was,

gallery_36345_6238_30579.jpg

Other dishes that were almost as good were the beautiful carpaccio of langoustine, impossibly creamy mouth-feel, with toasted poppy seeds

gallery_36345_6238_29253.jpg

and the marinated anchovies and red peppers with preserved eggplant, another stunner.

gallery_36345_6238_37939.jpg

did not like as much: the eggs with eggplant and too much cumin, the strange amuse, and the shisso sorbet that totally overpowered my dessert of strawberry brunoise with green tea cream. And I was sorry the sucre dessert was gone from the menu - it was so gorgeous and delicate and different, unlike my strawberry-shisso flop...

gallery_36345_6238_2566.jpg

Still, it was a memorable evening... and I'll go back.

For those of you who can read Portuguese, I posted more photos and a more detailed review HERE.

ps. Ricardo Freire is the photographer who took photos 2 and 3 of this post.

Edited by AlexForbes (log)

Alexandra Forbes

Brazilian food and travel writer, @aleforbes on Twitter

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