It's taken me a while to get to this report, but it has been percolating in my mind since my meal at Pinxo my last night in Paris.
Firstly, L'Atelier. This was my third meal there, the first being May, 2003 in the first few weeks of its existence. This time my attendence was purely unplanned. It followed a disasterous morning indulging in my second obsession at the Vanves Antique Market (nearly froze my feet off and even worse bought nothing--poor quality and high prices).
After having to race off the metro at the worst possible stop, Les Invalides and indulge in the famous Paris occupation--find the loo--I was pretty disgruntled to say the least. The delay caused me to miss my reservation at L'Os a Moelle (called apologized, but reservation given away). So not very happy, I started trudging along the Seine, muttering under my breath. Ahead, was the Musee d'Orsay. Okay I thought, I'll just nip in take a look at some wonderful art and grab a bite at the museum cafe. As I neared that destination I noticed a huge line up at the museum. Mutter, mutter, mutter--I AM NOT STANDING IN LINE FOR A LOUSY LUNCH....and kept on trekking.
Then the light bulb went on. It was already nearly 2pm, I was freezing and hungry and as I recalled I was near L'Atelier. By the body memory, that dancers speak of, I went directly to the restaurant and walked right in the door, to ask the hostess if she could accomodate Une, Moi. And she could, however she apologized because it was a window seat. They have installed a counter and four stools over at the window on the right side of the restaurant and you do not get to pleasure of the servers right in front of you and watching the cooking. Who cares--been there done that, I am starving. And so finally, I sat down to eat, rest and warm up. I acknowledged the chic French couple occupying 2 seats, the 4th being empty. As I was perusing the menu the hostess brought over a young woman to complete our quartet. Amost immediately she asked if I had eaten here before and when I aswered in the affirmative--she began questioning me about the food and what were the best and the signature dishes. At this point the French (turns out English wife and French husband) joined the conversation. The young woman revealed to me,after questioning that she works at Jean Georges in New York and had just spent a few months in the south of france in a restaurant, learning. She is a line chef. She told me the staff in New York call Jean Georges Paris place the boutique.
Okay, finally the food. From memory, because I was talking and forgot to take notes.
1. La Chataigne en Fin Veloute au Fumet Lard--An absolutely fabulous chestnut soup with scrumtions bits of smoked bacon. The flavour was incredible and the contrast in textures of the smooth puree and the smoky crispy bacon made this very special and reminded me of what I had loved at Robuchon's restaurant. 14 Eu
2. L'Oeuf Cocotte Creme Legere de Champions--This dish is well known and just a lovely, if very small thing. In a glass we see a dark green puree (I say parsley) a soft boiled egg and topped with a mushroom foam. You push your spoon through the whole to bring out all the components in one bite. It is three very simple foods, but somehow together it wonderful. I tried eating one at a time and well pleasant it did not bring the pleasure of the three together. 16 Eu
3. La langoustine en ravioli truffe, au chou. A langoustine ravioli, flavoured with truffle and cabbage. This is a nice dish with the best indgredients of any I ordered, and while I enjoyed it very much, it did not thrill. 25 Eu
4. Ris de Veau cloute de laurier frais. Sumblime grilled sweetbreads flavoured with fresh bay leaf--oh wow. This is exactly how sweetbread is supposed to be =soft and pearly white, just set off perfectly with the strong taste of the laurel leaf. Yummy in the Tummy. 20 Eu
Wine: a glass of 2003 Cotes du Rhone Charvin--very pleasant and quite nice with the food--but I don't remember munch about it. 9 Eu
I also had an Evian at 3 Eu and coffee at 2.50 Eu.
The total bill was a hefty 89.50 Eu, but can you believe it was worth it.
This room has been described many times but I think it could be described as a minimilst, relaxed elegance, with a definite asian feeling. Quite different in almost every detail to Pinxo which I shall describe in a later post. I will also discuss the difference in philosophy of the two chefs, that is very clear from these two places.