REVIEW

L'atelier de Joel Robuchon

Joël Robuchon is arguably the greatest and most celebrated chef in the world (28 Michelin stars), and you could make a credible case that nearby Robuchon au Dome, his restaurant in the Grand Lisboa in Macau, is the best restaurant in Asia outside of Japan. That fact, along with my belief that L’atelier de Joël Robuchon in New York City was the city’s most underrated restaurant at the time prior to its closing, left me with high anticipation. Even so, my expectations were exceeded by a considerable amount: L’atelier de Joel Robuchon in Hong Kong is the city’s second best French restaurant after Amber and at $107 (830HKD) for a four-course prix fixe, the best value of any upscale restaurant in Hong Kong.

L’atelier means workshop, and the restaurant takes its inspiration from Japanese sushi counters with wrap-around countertop seating that encircles an open kitchen. The concept necessarily lacks the formality and pageantry of a restaurant like Caprice or Gaddi’s, but its informality and intimacy can also be a plus. Dramatic lighting amplifies the seductiveness of the sleek, sophisticated décor, a fugue of rich reds and blacks.

Meals commence with an amuse bouche that is typically a balance of one light and refreshing item (like a potato and leek soup or an asparagus with ricotta emulsion) and one heartier item (like a warm bacon royale or a deep fried risotto ball) and follow with what is unquestionably the city’s best bread basket. There are house-made baguettes, baguettes filled with bacon, croissant rolls, mini croissants, chestnut bread, sourdough bread, comte cheese bread, etc., all of it superb.

L’atelier’s concept is one of small plates that are designed to be shared and ordered in quantity –haute French tapas essentially. You can either opt for a prix fixe tasting menu like the four-course Menu Diner or the eight-course Menu Découverte, or construct your own by assembling dishes from the à la carte menu. I was stunned by the consistency in quality across courses and the sublimity of some of the dishes. A butternut squash soup with crunchy pumpkin seeds and a parmesan cheese emulsion, served in the squash, was the best I’d ever tasted or likely ever will. I would happily eat the crispy poached egg and smoked salmon crowned with Sologne Imperial caviar for every brunch hereafter. There is magnificent steak tartare topped with fine black truffle, and a decadent free-range quail and foie gras, served with Robuchon’s signature truffle mashed potatoes. Much to my surprise, as I am rarely as impressed by desserts as by savory courses, a chestnut mousse with pecan dacquoise and vintage rum ice-cream was indescribably complex, refreshing and pure. It is, indeed, rather difficult to recommend dishes because the quality was so uniformly high throughout. If I have one complaint, it is that the truly impressive wine list (3,200 labels) is inordinately marked up, with most wines by the glass in the $40-60 range, somewhat diluting the value for money calculus that makes L’atelier perhaps my favorite restaurant in Hong Kong for repeat meals.

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INFORMATION

Central
Shop 315 & 401, The Landmark
15 Queen's Rd W
+852 2166-9000
Mon-Sun, noon-2:30pm, 6:30pm-10:30pm
    Joël Robuchon, Chef
    Olivier Elzer, Executive Chef

    TAGS

    • Hong Kong
    • French
    • Best Decor
    • Best Service
    • Best Value
    • Best Wine Lists
    • Private Dining Room

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