Thursday, March 22, 2007

L'Atelier

Firstly, apologies for the silence. I have been dealing with some health problems lately and after nine hours in the hospital watching streaking rats in the emergency, I needed some time to recover and regain my appetite!

Happily, the doctor told me to "Mangez beaucoup!" (Eat lots). Something NO doctor has ever told me to do. Quite obviously we are in France. Unfortunately, I still don't have much of an appetite but, I did have some places to tell you about before I fell ill....

So, first of all, for the the boy's birthday 2 weeks ago, I took him to L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon, winner of one star in the 2007 Michelin Guide and a hopeful for two stars.



Upon entering, the first thing we saw was a teeny tiny pig rotating at the back of their open kitchen.


While looking at the menu, the charming Maitre D' came over to chat about the HK restaurant, offer us his card and to introduce the specials of the day, which included the tiny pig or cochon de lait. I went with his recommendations for the starters and chose the piglet as my main course. I was glad I did because five minutes after my order, the kitchen announced that there was no more cochon de lait left!

The boy went with the Menu Découverte which was priced at 110 Euros and consisted of a fabulous amuse bouche of a foie gras royale with port jelly and Parmesan foam. It was delicious, tasty and we were excited to try the rest.



My starter of l’oeuf cocotte crème was disappointing. I had high expectations, having heard of the luscious, perfectly cooked state of the egg coddled in cream. Unfortunately I have been spoiled by the perfect eggs made by those running authentic Japanese noodle houses and this was nothing special.



The boy's menu started with carpaccio of Saint-Jacques scallops with uni, whose delicate taste was sadly overpowered by the dill marinade.


His Langoustine ravioli was sumptuous, lush and rich. The boy would happily have a bowl of those for his dinner. Unfortunately this was followed by a type of fried fish dumpling which was way too mushy for my tastes.



My "grenouille en fritot a la purée d’ail", or deep fried frog's leg on a garlic puree was also a disappointment, with a thick breaded coating on the overcooked and much shrunken delicate frog's leg.





The boy's meal picked up with the chestnut soup flavored with celery, smoked lard and foie gras. This was followed by a nice piece of sea bass.




Our mains arrived, both accompanied by the namesake's famous light yet creamy potatoes. The boy choose the baby lamb chops (as opposed to the veal sweetbreads). These were lovely pieces of tender lamb but I was distracted. Not by the potatoes (which the boy insisted was, fancy mash) mind you.



It was my main.... Oh, what a main it was.


I must admit I had felt a twinge of guilt when I saw what a tiny piglet it was but that all melted away as quickly as the meat melted in my mouth. It was, without exaggeration, the best piece of pork I have ever eaten. I still dream about it and could have eaten another portion immediately. Pink, almost white, it was subtly piggy, tender and the most succulent piece of flesh ever. It was so damn good I'm drooling as I type.


My only complaint? Not enough crackling!! Love that stuff.

I was completely satiated at that point but the boy twisted my arm into ordering the souffle despite that he had two desserts in his menu.


I'm so glad I listened. It was the infamous Souffle Chartreuse avec crème glacée pistache. It was eaten up very quickly let me assure you!


The boy and I thoroughly enjoyed our meal and experience which lasted a good 3 plus hours. The Maitre D' was quirky, friendly yet professional, all the staff were incredibly friendly without any of the pretension and snootiness we are sometimes subjected to. The hostess even let me into the kitchen for a closer photo of the pig. The menu is a good deal if you are interested in a selection of dishes but if they have the cochon de lait, trust me, get it. It is very much worth the trip.


One thing you must be warned of though, is that due to the bar type seating of the restaurant, you may end up chatting to your neighbours. A somewhat disconcerting experience for my oh so English boy.



L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon
5 rue de Montalembert, 7th
Tel: 01 42 22 56 56
Metro: Rue du Bac
(reservations only for the 1st seating; 11:30am and 6:30pm)

3 comments:

susan said...

Oh my goodness, that piggie looks so good.
Hope your appetite picks up.

take care,
susan

Anonymous said...

That sounds like paying a goldmine for a meal! Are you sure your boy is worth that much?

Sui Mai said...

The boy is definitely worth that much and more!!