Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Joel comes to NYC

We throughly enjoyed L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon last Summer in Paris.

Now he comes to NYC:
"Mr. Robuchon, a Michelin three-star chef whose creativity and perfectionism have kept him at the pinnacle of the culinary world, has become conspicuously active since he “retired” 10 years ago, expanding the number of restaurants that bear his name and changing his approach so that it’s more casual. He made his first foray into the particularities of the American palate last year in Las Vegas. He describes that venture these days as a warm-up for the scary, tough crowd in New York.

Last week, he was finally seeing his latest restaurant in its completed state — clearly he knew the clock was ticking. His first reaction was general approval.

Then he took a closer look."

Mr. Robuchon slices hanger steak in the kitchen.

"When Mr. Robuchon turned 50 and announced that he would retire at the top of his game, saying he was tired of haute cuisine and all the formal folderol that it involved, it rocked the world of food. Then his announcement in 2002 that he would open L’Atelier, a 36-seat, counter-only restaurant in Paris on the Left Bank, was just as stunning. By 2003 he was back in the restaurant business in France. (He had first tested the waters by opening a version of it a few months earlier in Tokyo.)

Within a year after the opening in Paris, Ty Warner, the owner of the Four Seasons hotel in New York, began to court him for his hotel, as a replacement for the Fifty Seven Fifty Seven restaurant. “Everybody was saying he was the greatest chef in the world, so I ate in all his restaurants and I was convinced,” Mr. Warner said.

L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon in New York is a little different from the others. For one thing, it has been incorporated into an existing space with a blond wood, somewhat Art Deco style by I. M. Pei, who designed the hotel. The Atelier’s look, created by the French designer Pierre-Yves Rochon, is sleek black with touches of burgundy. Mr. Pei was consulted on the design and Mr. Robuchon approved every piece of kitchen equipment.

Unlike the other Robuchon restaurants, this one has a counter that seats only 20 and is of blond wood; the others are black. Beyond it, the black open kitchen is typical of the other Ateliers.

The restaurant has another 30 seats, at tables with banquettes. But the menus for both parts of the restaurant are the same, with a list of about 20 dishes served either as small tasting plates ($12 to $78) or larger, conventional portions ($17 to $88), at both lunch and dinner. The restaurant will also offer tasting menus. Desserts are $15."


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