Dinner at L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon Bangkok

Joël Robuchon is one of the most successful chefs in the world, with a chain of eponymous restaurants in major cities around the globe. Last month, I had the opportunity to dine at the Bangkok branch of his “L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon” chain, literally the artist’s workshop of Joël Robuchon. It is widely considered Bangkok’s finest restaurant and I could see how that argument is made.

Let me share a bit about the experience, which was exquisite. I’ll preface this by sharing that four friends of ours generously gave us a certificate for the seven-course tasting menu with wine pairing, so we did not pay for this meal out of pocket. Additionally, Tawn knows the executive chef here in Bangkok, so let him know we would be coming, ensuring particularly attentive service. That said, I believe that this is a fantastic experience for anyone and a good value for the money, for an extremely special occasion.

IMG_7033

The restaurant is located a few floors up in the Mahanakorn Cube, a small shopping complex adjacent to the construction site for what will soon be one of tallest and most spectacular buildings on the Bangkok skyline. As you enter, you step into a small, darkly lit but richly decorated sitting room and are greeting by polite staff.

IMG_7231

The entire room is laid out as a long counter seating perhaps 30 people. There is a small private function room in the back. The layout is evocative of a sushi bar and thus the diners’ attention is drawn towards the kitchen and service staff. This reinforces the idea that the restaurant is an artist’s workshop: you are hear to observe the craft.

IMG_7106

We were seated at the middle of the counter with a direct view of the main cooking station. This also allowed us additional attention and interaction with the chef as well as the rest of the staff. There is a very good ambiance and you can tell that while the team takes their work seriously, they have fun and enjoy working with each other.

IMG_7053

The amuse bouche, a pairing of crisp and soft quinoa and a mouse with smoked piquillo peppers. Interesting pairing of textures and flavors just to whet the appetite.

IMG_7056

The breads are baked in-house by their pastry chef and the large bread bowl is refreshed throughout the meal, not that you particularly need to fill up on bread.

IMG_7063

Such is the attention to detail that the design of some of the rolls match the bread plates.

IMG_7073

Le caviar imperial de sologne – a surprise of Sologne Imperial caviar served on a lobster broth gelee with dainty dots of cauliflower puree. The flavors were very clean and the detailing was meticulous.

IMG_7081

Underneath the caviar is a thin disk of crab meat. And that is a flake of edible gold leaf in the middle. This was a good example of where beautifully balanced flavors and technique are amplified by the thoughtful presentation.

IMG_7086

Executive chef Olivier Limousin and his staff playfully presents the next course. He is a bon vivant and gracious host.

IMG_7102

La truffe noire – the black truffle. A poached egg with black truffle, perched atop a cake of risotto with shaved parmigiano reggiano cheese. A nice combination and another artful presentation, although I would argue the risotto was a tad under-seasoned.

IMG_7114-001

Le foie gras de canard – pan fried duck liver, roasted tangerine with chopped rosemary and a mango sauce. This was a very simple pairing, proving that simple flavors, executed well, can be amazing.

IMG_7119

Close-up detail of the cross-hatches on the surface of the foie gras, letting the fat render beautifully. Coarse salt and chives were the perfect addition to the rich main ingredient.

IMG_7129

Roasted artichoke on a thin puree of artichoke, served with chickpeas cappuccino scented with tumeric. This was a dish that surprised on two counts: not only was the dish itself very unctuous, but it was beautifully paired with a wine that made a beautiful transformation after a bite of the dish. Artichoke is usually kills most wines.

IMG_7140

The fish course was a black cod, marinated with miso served with a pumpkin veloute with chestnut and black truffle.

IMG_7148

Close-up of the fish, you can see how the scales appear to have been fried and turned into crunchy bits, which were distracting. I loved the flavor of this dish, particularly the broth. I didn’t identify it as a pumpkin veloute with chestnut and black truffle. It seemed much more like a butter and orange sauce, but maybe my palette was off.

IMG_7166

There was a dish of lamb chops with mashed potato that was exquisitely prepared. It is such a simple, rustic dish and yet so satisfying to eat.

IMG_7168

Likewise, the confit of Challans duck with potato mousse and black truffles with a parmesan crisp. It was beautiful to look at and satisfying to eat. I should mention that the lamb chops above and the duck confit were an either/or option: Tawn ordered one and I ordered the other, although we shared the dishes.

IMG_7174

A look at the confit duck hidden buried under the potatoes.

IMG_7176

A view of the “sushi” display cases along the counter: this one decorated in a wintry scene with powdered sugar and vanilla beans.

IMG_7182

The parade of desserts began with a gelee of Japanese Amaou strawberries with pink Champagne granite and meringue.

IMG_7192

A deconstructed picture so you can see the gelee and granite below the meringue.

IMG_7198

Then, in a Japanese black lacquered bowl, they served a gelee made from the Japanese soft drink Calpis (vaguely like a yogurt) covered with supreme of lychee, a raspberry coulis and a delicate flower meringue filled with raspberry.

IMG_7207

This photo shows more about the structure of the dessert, although it doesn’t do it justice. Very tasty treat.

IMG_7216

A few petits-fours were served, filling us beyond the bursting point.

IMG_7219

After we had called for the check, yet another dessert arrived, a chocolate and raspberry mouse, with a candle – a treat from the chef to celebrate our anniversary, which was the reason for the meal.

IMG_7222

The dainty little doily is edible.

IMG_7228

The staff took a picture of us at the end of the meal, looking much too bloated, I suspect!

Overall, it was a tremendous treat and at nearly four hours, quite an adventure. As for the question of value, this will always be a matter of opinion. The seven-course menu is 7,500 baht with a supplement of 4,000 baht for wine pairings. (A five-course option is 5,000 with 3,000 for the wine.) It is safe to say this is the most expensive meal we’ve ever eaten!

The decor, ambiance, hospitality, service, wine pairing, plating, flavor, technique and experience were all remarkable. For a very special occasion, it is an extravagant treat and you get you money’s worth. For less special occasions, there are thankfully less expensive lunch sets and there is also an a la carte menu.

As to the question of whether L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon is the best restaurant in Bangkok, I would say it is. You may or may not be able to afford it and you may or may not find it worth spending the money on, but the overall experience is better than anything else in town.

 

10 thoughts on “Dinner at L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon Bangkok

  1. Such a fabulous dinner course! I love the caviar dish. You two look dashing as always! (BTW…You may want to revamp the fish from code to cod)

  2. you two always look wonderful together. what a lovely way to spend an anniversary. btw, i’m personally intrigued by the breads, the artichoke dish, challans duck confit dish, and calpis gelee dessert. do you remember what sort of wine that you had that went well with the artichoke dish?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s