September 19, 2011

Warm-up lunch

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Dad's birthday is coming up in a few days, and I'm taking him back to L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon.  There is, of course, another special bottle of wine... so I stopped by the restaurant today to drop it off with the sommelier to allow it to rest for a few days.  It turns out Benoit is not in the house today, so I begrudgingly left it with his assistant.

The plan was to take my friend out to lunch at Salon de The de Joël Robuchon a couple of floors below, as I would need to stop by for my usual bread run anyway.  As I flipped through the menu for the first time, however, I realized that the menu here was much more limited compared to the one in Hong Kong.  The more refined dishes are definitely missing, and suddenly the idea of having lunch here wasn't so appealing anymore...

Fortunately my friend knew what was going through my mind, and was accommodating enough for us to move the venue back upstairs.  So, just a few minutes after seeing me drop off my bottle of wine, the hostess greeted me for a second time and led us to our seats at the counter.

There's actually a choice of FIVE set menus for lunch, and we decided to take things easy and went for the simplest/cheapest option.  It was, after all, just meant to be a casual catch up.

The amuse bouche was a scoop of mozzarella cream on top of orange and basil gelée with diced tomato.  The orange and basil definitely gave off their fragrances, and the whole thing was an interesting, refreshing mix of savory and semi-sweet; and mix of creamy and clean, crisp flavors.

Le mérou dans son bouillon aux coquillages, piments d'Espelette et herbes fraiches - this big block of grouper was deliciously tender, which surprised me a little.  The clear broth with mussels and clams was pretty delicately flavored, although for some reason it didn't quite work for me... and I can't exactly put my finger on it.  I don't think there was anything wrong with the execution, though... just didn't set off any fireworks on my taste buds...

One must not, of course, pass up the famous mashed potato.  Made with so much butter that you don't want to know... but sooooo creamy...

Le matcha glacé sur un blanc-manger d'amande accompagnée de mango et gingembre confit - pretty different from what I thought it would be, but in a positive sense.  Nice mix of tropical fruits like mango and pineapple, together with almond and green tea.  I am usually wary of green tea desserts, since I find many of them a little too milky for my liking.  Not this scoop of green tea ice cream.  Very nicely done.

We finished with a little canelé that was very nicely done, and a single espresso for me.  A perfect little lunch, and I'll be back in a few days for the full feast!

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