I have been to several Robuchon restaurants and was a bit disappointed in this one. The food was good, but the staff was very uptight and bossy. I would not recommend this place to anyone except for a quick bite. Wine list is overpriced too. Try the Ebisu branch for a better experience.
The food was fantastic and the service and smart casual atmosphere was superb. Unfortunately, I am giving it a rating of 3 stars for one reason only:
one of the waiters kept walking past us and snorting his phlegm in a loud manner. I have lived in Tokyo for 10 years so I am aware that unfortunately, some Japanese men do this. However, my friend who I was entertaining who was visiting from Canada did not. We ordered the chef tasting menu for 15,000 yen each or 150.00 dollars USD. We were at a Michilen star restaurant, not McDonald's. I spoke to the waiter serving us about the incident, I hope that he will speak with the "snorter." Completely groce.
L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon is one of those restaurants that I’ve been wanting to go for a long time, and it exceeded my already heightened expectations -- no wonder it got two Michelin stars.
My interest in L’Atelier started with an interview I saw with Joel Robuchon in which he lamented the stiff and overtly formal atmosphere at high-end French restaurants (even though he runs a few of those, including one in Tokyo that got three Michelin stars). The concept behind L’Atelier is to do away with the excessive formalities, but still serve top-notch food, and they did.
The seating is almost all at the counter overlooking an open kitchen, but there’s a couple of tables for bigger groups. From those counter seats we saw the kitchen whip up one of the most amazing meals I’ve ever had. The absolute highest point was the appetizer of the Menu Dejeneur B (5,400 yen); broadbean puree on a tomato salad, served with a parmesan cheese galette. I can’t even begin to describe how delicious this dish was. It was light, the flavors intense, and everything worked in harmony.
My dining companion (who ordered a cheaper lunch set at 2,950 yen) and I quickly figured out that the forte of the kitchen are the vegetables. The eggplants underneath our roasted fish in butter/balsamic sauce were absolutely stunning, and so was the salad-soup cappuccino with seafood. Everything we ate was good, but the smoked salmon tartare paled in comparison to some of the other dishes.
For main dish I opted for a piece of foie gras on parmesan cheese risotto (1,680 yen additional). The foie was a perfect medium rare with a nice caramelized crust outside, but the strong liver smell turned us off.
Dessert again was a masterpiece. On one side, yogurt ice cream with passion fruit sauce and crumbles, and on the other fromage blanc with mango, passion fruit puree and mango jelly. I am a sucker for sour desserts, and this was my equivalent of a dessert wet dream. On your way out definitely drop by the bakery next door where the tarts and canneles are excellent.
L’Atelier gets it right in doing away with the stiffness. I wore jeans and a tshirt, and didn’t feel out of place in the least. They also leave an amazing bread basket by the table, with which you can mop up the sauces (and I used my fingers after a while too). The service was polite, quick, and without the attitude.
L’Atelier adds up to one of the most memorable meals I’ve ever had. Because we went at lunch time, our bill didn’t shoot out of proportions and the whole thing came to 12,000 yen with a drink and the service charge. I can only recommend this place.