L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon
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L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon Restaurant Review: Joël Robuchon has successfully come up with a contemporary concept: simple French fare served in a chic sushi bar atmosphere. Rather than fusion cuisine, one is offered a fusion experience. A long sushi bar seating 40 wraps around the central kitchen, enabling the diner to be engaged in the behind the line restaurant experience. One is able to simultaneously watch a pig being spit roasted and a young assistant dousing each individual leaf in a dressing for a salad. The space itself is primarily black and red, but highly focused lighting is used to bring out the texture and color of the decorations. A translucent red bowl plays off a rack of bright red bell peppers and a red and chrome meat-slicer, while fresh strawberries replace tuna in the display case in front of some clients. Along the walls, one finds the restaurant's exposed cave protected simply by glass, as well as Pollack- and Rauschenberg-esque modern paintings---favorites of Robuchon. Even the fixtures and lighting in the stylish bathrooms have been designed with careful attention. The informal design lends itself to a less structured meal. In place of appetizers, a menu of small tasting plates is offered. People are encouraged to order and share several of these dishes in a tapas-like manner. Simple, flavorful options include a fine mackerel tart with Parmesan and small olives, fresh marinated anchovies over a slice of eggplant confite, and creamy foie gras served with a basket of crusty bread. Main dishes are served in full-sized portions. Again, though, simple dishes have been chosen so as to keep focus on the high-quality ingredients. In proof of that fact, try the king crab with spiced celeriac or the Colbert mullet seasoned with early fruits and vegetables. The basic cheese plate includes an excellent Camembert, a brebis and a chèvre, while the separate dessert menu features a selection of tarts, a fruit salad with basil sorbet and a quenelle of chocolate and pistachio. Reservations are only accepted for the first seating, so arrive early or be prepared to wait. Also, as with a sushi bar, the seating doesn't lend itself to parties larger than four.