AWARDED THE MEILLEUR Ouvrier de France in 1976, the Chef de l’année in 1987 and Cuisinier du siècle in 1990, Joël Robuchon is the most starred chef in the world. Many Manhattanites will remember the previous Midtown iteration of Robuchon’s tasting menu outpost, L’Atelier, which closed in 2012. For the next-gen reinvention of L’Atelier, the celebrated chef snatched up the former Colicchio & Sons space in the Meatpacking District on 10th Avenue, between 15th and 16th streets—a starworthy location, indeed. “I love the energy and diversity of the Meatpacking District, and the neighborhood reminds me of the original Paris location,” Robuchon says.
The new downtown project is reflective of Robuchon’s evolution both professionally and personally. The top toque is noticeably slimmer these days, having lost a vast amount of weight for health reasons. His new interest in health informs a more modern menu. The vegetarian tasting menu is a favorite, the chef notes.
Seeking to invite diners to a more intimate setting, Robuchon enlisted renowned French architect Pierre-Yves Rochon (the man behind the stunning Four Seasons Georges V in Paris and The Savoy Hotel in London) to design a space befitting of his expertise in which to luxuriously present his chefs and cuisine. A color palette of mainly black and red fits the neighborhood, while the open-kitchen plan allows diners to watch the high theatrics of haute cuisine unfold. Many of the key players remain the same: Executive chef Christophe Bellanca, pastry chef Salvatore Martone and head baker Tetsuya Yamaguchi have all been with Robuchon for many years.
Like the 13 other global outposts of L’Atelier, in Paris, Las Vegas and now Miami, the restaurant offers both tasting menus and a la carte options. The seasonal eight-course discovery menu ($325, plus $150 for wine pairings or $275 for reserve pairings) offers an indulgent celebration of salmon tartare with caviar, duck foie gras, lobster, wagyu rib-eye and stuffed quail. The notably lighter, five-course vegetarian tasting ($145, plus $95 for wine pairings or $155 for premium pairings) is unique to the Manhattan location and marries innovative combinations like beet with an apple-avocado duo and green mustard sorbet or lychee sorbet with lemon poppy foam to delight without overstuffing. If you fall somewhere in the middle in terms of appetite, a la carte options range from white truffle spaghetti to Long Island duck with kumquat confit. And because no Meatpacking District is complete without a bar, Le Grill de Joël Robuchon offers 56 seats in the front dining room for drinks and a la carte dining only. Power lunchers will undoubtably flag the croque monsieur and salmon paillard as part of their new regime.
“New York has always been one of my favorite cities in the world,” Robuchon says. It shows in the way he cooks for us.
L’ATELIER DE JOËL ROBUC
85 10th Ave., 212.488.8885
HOURS Mon.-Sun., 5-11pm
THE HOT SEAT
“All of the 34 seats at the counter are the best seat in the house. My reason for creating the counter seating was so diners can experience the warmth and conviviality of the open kitchen, and also to have an opportunity to directly interact with chefs and watch the creative process,” says Robuchon.
“We do carry some rare and exclusives wines, including Jacques Selosse La Côte Faron Grand Cru Extra Brut Blanc de Noirs, Champagne; Domaine Vincent Dauvissat, Grand Cru Les Clos, Chablis 2005; and Maison Joseph Drouhin, Beaune Premier Cru Clos des Mouches Blanc 2015. We also have a large selection of old vintages of Bordeaux (1986, 1989, 1982) and several verticals of Premier Grand Cru classes from Bordeaux, Latour, Lafite Rothschild, Mouton Rothschild, Margaux and Haut-Brion,” he says.
GOING OFF MENU
“We get requests for spaghetti with caviar, which we are happy to prepare,” Robuchon says.