L’ Atelier de Joël Robuchon, NYC
February 21, 2012
Joël Robuchon operates restaurants around the world with a total of 28 Michelin stars, the most of any chef. He has restaurants in Hong Kong, Las Vegas, London, Macau, Monaco, Paris, Taipei, Tokyo and New York. His L’ Atelier de Joël Robuchon in New York had just been awarded its second Michelin star in the 2012 guide so Blair and I were looking forward to a lot when we went for dinner on November 16, 2011.
We were seated at the end of the counter with a good view of the plating station in the middle. (You can read my description of the counter arrangement in my blogpost on my meal there in April, 2009.)
To our right was a view of the table section of the dining room.
We started with glasses of Bruno Paillard Champagne while we looked at the menu and the iPad wine list, but that was just curiosity as we knew we would order the tasting menu, L’AUTOMNE Imaginé par Joël Robuchon, with the wine pairings. There was a helpful printed card left for us to refer to with the course descriptions in French and English and the wines. I later scanned it into my computer and show the titles with each course below.
The amuse-gueule was a little glass of “foie gras royale” with port wine reduction and parmesan foam.
This is a signature starter. The port reduction has a sweet and sour effect which goes nicely with the foie gras mousse.
A bread basket was put on the counter in front of us.
The olive foccacia was excellent. Bread was useful during the meal as the courses and wines sometimes followed an awkward pattern; you will see white wine, followed by red Beaujolais, followed by a sweet wine and then returning to a white before going on to robust red.
The first course was
sur un velouté de maïs glacé tremblotant, aux petits croûtons
Delicate chilled corn velouté with caviar.
Sweet corn on an autumn menu is unusual, but then the French don’t understand the idea of sweet corn. Nonetheless, this was nice with the croutons adding crunch and the two caviars saltiness. I still had some of my apéritif Champagne left for the first mouthsful, which went better than the wine paired with the course:
CHABLIS ler Cru Vaulorent, Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard, 2008
la noix en carpaccio au corail d’oursin
Scallop carpaccio with sea urchin.
Raw scallops are tricky as they can be quite gooey and unpleasant, but these were fresh and nice, although a bit delicate. They were sparked up by the good sea urchin from Washington State.
PINOT NERO, Cavallotto, Langhe Bianco, Piemonte, 2008
This is an unusual wine; it was not assertive and went well with the dish.
en royale avec un cappuccino de persil simple
Light custard of mushrooms with a parsley cappuccino.
Underneath was a dark green parsley gel. Above it were chunks of pine mushrooms and thin strips of a dried mushroom which provided textural play.
BEAUJOLAIS CRU, MORGON “Cote du Py” Réserve, J.M. Burgaud, 2008
This wine’s fruitiness went nicely with the mushrooms.
LE FOIE GRAS
chaud de canard aux raisins muscat verjutés et gingembre confit
Seared duck foie gras with Muscat grapes and ginger confit.
Oops, I forgot to take the photo until I had enjoyed most of the dish. It was a well seared piece of foie gras, nicely offset by the grapes cooked in gingered grape juice and crowned with a ginger ring.
CALIFORNIA, Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc, Merry Edwards, 2008
This had just the right amount of natural late-harvest sweetness to go with the foie gras. The whole combination was like a very sophisticated candy.
LE BLACK COD
Avec une mousseline de daikon au yuzu
Seared black cod with daikon and yuzu broth.
This would be quite Japanese if it were not for the creaminess of the white radish, citrus sauce. It reminded me of the similar, but more Zen, dish at Donguri.
VIN DE PAYS DE L’HERAULT, Mas de Daumas Gassac, 2009
This white wine from the South of France is made from:
“25% Viognier – 25% Chardonnay – 25% Petit Manseng – 15% Chenin Blanc and 10% other grape varieties including Courbu from Bearn, Petite Arvine from Valais, Rhole from Provence, Marsanne from the Rhone valley and 10 other rare grape varieties.”
farcie de foie gras et dorée avec une purée de pomme de terre
Free-range caramelized quail stuffed with foie gras, potato puree.
These are two signature dishes of Robuchon, his famous mashed potatoes and the quail. Strangely, I thought it was the least interesting part of the meal. The potatoes are really potato and salt flavored butter. They cloy after a few bites. The scoop on the plate would have been enough without the extra portion on the side. The caramelized quail leg was nice, but the stuffed breast suffered from the same boring richness as the “potatoes.” The dish needed a provoking garnish like a sour cherry or a Japanese pickle or a chutney.
TEMPRANILLO / GARNACHA, R. Lopez de Heredia “Viña Bosconia” Rioja, 2003
Well, the richness of this wine was not a problem as it was with the food.
This was described to us, but was not on the printed menu and I didn’t make a note. It was exotic and nice.
LE PARFUM DES ILES
crémeux aux fruits de la passion, granité au rhum ambré, onctuosité à la noix de coco
Passion fruit cream, Rum granite, coconut silk.
On the bottom was an excellent passion fruit cream, above it a rum ice topped with coconut cream. I enjoyed this taste of the tropics.
Sensation à I’Araguani, sorbet cacao et biscuit Oréo
Chocolate cream, bitter chocolate sorbet and Oreo cookies.
The variations on top quality chocolate were not too sweet. Nice.
LANGUEDOC-ROUSSILLON, MAURY, Domaine Calvet-Thunevin, Vin Doux Naturel, 2004
This port-like wine from southwest France is made by mutage fortifying Grenache Noir grapes. Like Banyuls, it is one of the few wines known to go well with chocolate.
Little hard candies.
Our meal was generally excellent, deserving of the recently awarded second Michelin star. It had a consistency of a base in French cuisine with many exotic touches. The dishes were not overly elaborate, relying on combinations of just a few ingredients. (In fact, I would have liked at least one more ingredient in the climactic quail course.) The progression of courses had a logic to it, although I would have planned it differently for the sake of the wine progression. The service was always informative, relaxed and friendly, helped by the counter format. The pace was sometimes a bit too fast. I am sure we could have asked for a bit more time to appreciate our wine pairings, but we didn’t.
To see my blogpost on my meal here in April, 2009 click here.