January 2, 2009

First Friday Lunch Club of the year

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It's January 2 and a Friday, so of course my Friday Lunch Club - four people who used to work in the same bank - got together to do a proper kick-off of 2009. We decided to do this at L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon. I haven't been back to L'Atelier since being on the receiving end of some ridiculous service 2 months ago, and it would be interesting to see how things would go today.

We sat at a bar table for the cheaper set lunch. Being a Friday when no one is in the mood for work, we decided to order up some alcohol. I chose of bottle of Billecart Salmon Rosé NV as a more interesting alternative to Dom Perignon, Krug or La Grande Dame. The wine was very smooth and round on the palate, but I found the nose wasn't as open as I had hoped, with some raspberry and toasty notes.

As the sommelier poured the wine into the Riedel Sommelier Vintage Champagne flute for me to taste, I jokingly said "Oh! This is terrible! Send it back!" without even having sipped the wine. My friends were cracking up, but unfortunately the Frenchman was either on another planet, or he was totally ignoring my prank. He apologized and claims that he didn't realize that he was being spoken to... I guess he didn't really appreciate our humor...

The amuse bouche sent by the chef was very interesting. It was a bowl of coriander and cream cheese soup with croutons. It was rich and delicious, and reminded me of the dip used to accompany Indian poppadoms - but without the spices.

My first course was the skewer of scallops and bacon. The scallops were pan-seared and decent, but slightly below my expectations. The bacon, however, was excellent as it was fatty and sandwiched between two thin slices of grilled red capsicum. I alternated between tasting these "as is", with the teriyaki sauce, and with a bit of the mixed herbs.

I continued the seafood theme by having cod fillet in seafood broth. I wanted to try to keep things "light", so I did not take the other heavier dishes which my friends ordered. The cod was indeed lighter and nicely done, although somehow today I felt that there was a little something missing. The broth, however, was really nice and full of flavor. I am sure they used prawn heads and shells to make the base. They also diced up broccoli, carrots, cucumbers and squash into tiny cubes for the broth, and placed thinly sliced cucumber "ravioli" inside.

The aforementioned Frenchman thought we were joking when we asked for more toast to accompany my friends' foie gras, only to realize his mistake and have to make an extra trip. When the main courses arrived, we jokingly asked for more of the wonderful mashed potatoes - something Joël Robuchon is known for. This time the Frenchman was determined not to slip up...so he quickly brought us another small Le Creuset pot of the delicious stuff. Of course this was quickly lapped up by the ladies...

The chocolate caramel tart with pear sorbet was wonderful. I had a caramel and pear dessert at the Salon de Thé downstairs earlier in the week, and this was on my mind as I did the ordering. The sorbet was so nice...like eating a fully ripe Anjou pear, and there were small chunks of caramelized pear in the tart. What a great way to finish!

It was a great lunch - good food, good wine, with entertainment provided by our Frenchman who really didn't have much of a sense of humor, much to the chagrin of his fellow countrywoman sitting next to me. I'd say that's a great start to 2009...

1 comment:

Changunnie said...

I wonder where should we go for the next Lunch Club meeting. I want to eat good Italian food! They shouldn't give me the look when I ask for more bread and butter......


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