I was in the mood for a splurge, and brought my visiting sis and my giant belly to L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon for lunch. We've heard so much about this place, so, we were excited and expected to be blown away.
I picked the cheese bread, bacon baguette and croissant from the bread basket. The mini size allows us to taste a few pieces without feeling too stuffed before the meal even began. The cheese bread was soft, fluffy and wonderfully savory. The croissant was buttery, flaky and delicious, but the bacon baguette was way too hard...it was closer to a cracker than a baguette.
We were impressed by the amuse bouche. So impressed, we forgot to ask what it was :D (opps)
The base was slightly sweet, soupy and custardy, and the foam on top complemented the base perfectly.
I had the Cromesqui de Riz (crispy risotto finger with chorizo and parmesan cheese, served with tomato concasse and pesto) as an appetizer. The croquette-ish risotto was crispy on the outside, I wish it was a little creamier and tastier on the inside. The tomato and salad with pesto dressing made the dish. It was ok, but we weren't too impressed.
My sis had the Le Foie Gras de Canard (duck foie gras terrine with figs marmalade and spices). The dish could use a little something more to balance the sweetness and creaminess of the terrine. Although the fresh fig slices gave the dish a nice refreshing touch, and the crackers served with the dish helped, it was still missing a little punch. Ah wells, maybe I am just not used to subtle flavors?
The La Chataigne (chestnut soup with mushrooms and chicken mousse dumplings) was one of the highlights. I absolutely love it! Smooth, sweet, and creamy with delicate little dumplings and tasty bits of mushrooms. It was perfection. Hands down, one of the best soup I've ever had!
The Le Veau (veal fillet with sage and caramelized vegetables from the South of France) disappointed us. Despite looking perfectly cooked, the veal pieces were not seasoned well, felt a bit dry and they were too chewy, up to the point where we had to ask for a different knife to cut through them. There was nothing impressive about the caramelized vegetables served with it too.
The Le Beuf (cheek of beef braised with red wine, parmesan polenta and Taggiasche black olives) was delicious. The meat was unbelievably tender and flavorful, the polenta was rich and creamy, and the black olives made the dish livelier. It was a tad too rich and creamy for the hot weather though, a few bites and you'd feel ugh.
We ordered the La Poire (chocolate caramel tart with pear sorbet), the pastry base was crispy, maybe a little too crispy? The chocolate filling was nice and smooth, the pear sorbet was pretty refreshing and the tuille was paper thin and lovely. It was quite nice.
I picked two items from the dessert trolley, which was chocolate cake and the rum cake. Both were super duper sweet, wayyyy too sweet for my taste, served with sweet-ish whipped cream. They were so sweet, I only managed to have just a couple of tiny bites from both. I was rather disappointed that our server didn't ask or say a word despite seeing how we left most of the dessert untouched.
I ordered the regular coffee to end my meal, and thank God I didn't add any sugar, as there were more sweetness coming ;)
I am not a big fan of macarons, of which I normally couldn't taste anything but sweetness, but this time I could taste the pistachio flavor. The silver chocolates were nothing I'd miss, but the fruit pate cubes were delightfully fruity.
There were a couple more of service related weirdness. Sometimes, when serving my sis' dish, instead of explaining the dish to her, our server explained the dish to me, and proceeded to say "enjoy!" again, to me, not my sis (???). When I spilled a small pile of tomato concasse on the table, the servers didn't clean the unsightly spill even when they were clearing our plates. We had to ask one of them to clean the spillage. I know the spillage was my fault, but...still. Weird.
There were a couple of hits, some misses, but we were far from being blown away.
Were our expectation too high? Is our palate not sophisticated enough? Hmm, maybe...
But I believe that if it's good food, we'd enjoy it, and for HK$650 per person price tag, we didn't enjoy this meal as much as we wish to.
L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon
Shop 401, 4/F, The Landmark, 16 Des Voeux Road Central, Central
Tel: +852 2166 9000