January 9, 2018
Let me begin by saying that this is the most seductive dish I’ve ever encountered. Had this smooth foie gras mousse topped with an evanescent swoosh of parmesan foam (the two are separated by a port reduction) been the single thing I tasted at Atelier Robuchon, I would have gone home happy. It’s a Robuchon classic, a small miracle, and every bite makes you happy to be alive.
But all the food at the great chef’s latest New York outpost is impressive. Even the breadbasket. It is extremely difficult to keep yourself from working your way through every morsel.
That would, however, be a mistake. Because you want to experience as much of this food as you possibly can. (Do not be misled by the waiter’s admonishment that the opening courses are mere bites; they may be small, but they’re so rich and powerful that each forkful packs a wallop.)
Foie gras in a different package. This one, simply a slab served with toast and a little squiggle of date marmalade, its richness cut with lemon. Insanely too much for a single person.
The loveliest carpaccio of sea bream, showered with lime and dusted with espalette pepper.
This was a surprise. I was expecting langoustine en papillote to arrive wrapped in parchment, but this package is entirely edible. And as gorgeously fried as it would be at Tokyo’s finest temple of tempura.
Eggplant has never felt so pampered.
Lobster – the softest, sweetest meat- bathed in Robuchon’s favorite ravigotte Malabar sauce. Lively and peppery as a samba, it simply dances off the plate.
Caramelized quail. A bit of foie gras. And those potatoes!
Are Robushon potatoes really that good? No – they’re better. More butter than spud and topped with truffle, these potatoes will invade your dreams.
Duck, lovely duck, dressed up for the circus.
And finally a little edible terrarium of sweets. What a perfect way to send you laughing back into the world.
My first experience of Robuchon was at Jamin in Paris in the early eighties. It was a quiet, modest restaurant, quite different than the chic, dark, brash, red and black ambiance of the Ateliers the chef has now opened around the world. But the food was so fantastic that I turned to my companion and said, “I can’t believe this was made by human hands.”
It’s amazing that after all this time – and in so many locations – Joel Robuchon continues to serve excellence. I can’t wait to try the more modest Grill in the bar at the front of the restaurant. (Although “modest” in Robuchon world, is a relative term.)
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