Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Sublime French Cuisine at L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon, RWS.

Chef Joël Robuchon - Chef of the Century by Guide Gault Millau in 1989; Holder of a world-record 28 Michelin Stars across his empire of restaurants around the globe. Two of these restaurants happen to be in Singapore's Resorts World Sentosa - the grander, more formal and more expensive Joël Robuchon Restaurant and the slightly less intimidating L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon.

L'atelier de Joel Robuchon
L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon

I totally love how a huge chunk of the dining area comprises bench-type seating in a horseshoe around the open kitchen. Being the foodies and amateur wannabe chefs that we are, there's something ... therapeutic, almost hypnotic about watching a world class kitchen at work. It's not too far from watching a live episode of Hell's Kitchen, actually. A far more civilised version without the swearing and manufactured TV drama.

L'atelier de Joel Robuchon
Bread Basket

For all the accolades and awards, Robuchon's bread basket here is curiously ordinary - nothing really worth mentioning.

The restaurant serves three variants of Set Menu at $68, $98 or $138, representing an increasing number of appetizers and main courses which you can order off the seasonally-changing menu. The darling goes for the $98 menu (2 appetizers, 1 main course), while I go for the more manly $138 (2 appetizers, 2 main courses).

L'atelier de Joel Robuchon
Amuse Bouche

Which bring us on to the Amuse bouche - foie gras custard with a balsamic reduction topped off with Parmesan Foam. Cheese and Duck Liver, who would've guessed they went so well together?

L'atelier de Joel Robuchon

The first of our appetizers introduces us to a never-before-seen ingredient: a leafy vegetable called an endive. It's presented as a salad here with parmesan shavings, hazelnuts and foie gras pâté. Oh, and some edible flowers. The endive itself turns out to be a crunchy, tangy vegetable with a somewhat sweet aftertaste, matched perfectly by the savoury foei gras.

L'atelier de Joel Robuchon
Le Crabe

The layers of King Crab sandwiched between layers of turnip was a bit of a let down. We thought that the crab was lost and overpowered amidst the crunch of the turnip and the accompanying sweet and sour sauce. A double disappointment here considering the $15 supplement.

L'atelier de Joel Robuchon
La Grenouille

No such disappointment with the Frog Legs Ravioli - seasoning has been kept to a minimum here allowing the slight sweetness of the frog legs to maintain center stage. Gorgeous with the parsley sauce as well.

L'atelier de Joel Robuchon
Le Foie Gras de Canard

More foie gras follows! At a $17 supplement we would have hoped for 'proper' goose liver instead of duck; but to be honest it's prepared so well that we would have been hard pressed to tell the difference. If we had to nitpick perhaps a longer sear to get a more substantial crust would have been great. Oh, and a spoon to mop up that gravy with the Paimpol beans.

L'atelier de Joel Robuchon
Le Saumon

Onwards to the main courses! The salmon was cooked a perfect, juicy medium rare, and was delicious with the accompanying sweetness from maple syrup - tempered with that mustardy goodness from wasabi. The crispy skin was served on the side with another portion of endive salad.

L'atelier de Joel Robuchon
Le Vivanneau

The second fish course - Pan seared Snapper with baby leeks and lemongrass. Juicy, succulent flesh with an oh-so-crispy skin. One day I will teach myself how to cook fish this well.

L'atelier de Joel Robuchon
Le Coquelet

The Spatchcock Chicken took top honours as our favorite dish of the night, though. "Spatchcock" is a method where the chicken is split along the backbone and skewered before cooking. In this dish the technique is used on a coquelet - a young or baby chicken - and is uber delicious on its' own. The addition of that superbly umami gravy and pairing of a bolognese-flavored ratatouille makes it all the more perfect.

L'atelier de Joel Robuchon
Robuchon's Mashed Potatoes

The main courses are also served with a helping of Robuchon's Mashed Potates - very rich (with liberal dosages of butter and milk), very smooth (achieved by running the mashed potatoes multiple times through a fine sieve).

L'atelier de Joel Robuchon
La Creme Brulee

Today's Creme Brulee comes with tangy passion fruit and sweet berries. And a small edible flower. How do you know which flowers are edible and which aren't?

L'atelier de Joel Robuchon
Le Multivitamine

And our other dessert - Red berries spiced coulis on Victoria pineapple sorbet. Topped off with popping candy as is all the rage in desserts these days.

L'atelier de Joel Robuchon
Coffee, tea and madeleines

Overall we thoroughly enjoyed our dinner very, very much. The restaurant isn't perfect - we thought the maître d's sour demeanour and constant pacing up and down the dining area was somewhat intimidating; and our wait staff weren't as knowledgeable about the menu as we would have expected in an establishment of this level. Nevertheless barring the crabby appetizer, the food was amazing and pacing of service was perfect. Non stop entertainment provided courtesy of observing the kitchen at work, too! Total bill came up to $313 for two people which is pricey but in our opinion quite worth the money. If you're interested to splurge on the best the restaurant has to offer there's also a degustation at $240.

L'Atelier is open for dinner only on Thursday to Monday (closed Tues and Thurs). Reservations recommended at Non-halal.

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