Titan, legend, godfather, celebrity…just a few titles that adorn the legacy of Joel Robuchon, a chef who really needs no introduction and who’s empire extends from Las Vegas to Tokyo with a total collection of 28 Michelin stars (4 restaurants having 3) . Needless to say, the man knows what he’s doing and has done so for a very long time! In this years 50 Best Restaurants guide, his restaurant in Saint-Germain, Paris, notched up to 12, and during the month of August, is one of the very few Michelin restaurants open for business. At first, the cheek-by-jowl seating arrangement at the counter seems a bit odd for a restaurant of this nature, but as the meal progresses, one realises that it’s actually quite a lot of fun, and the most remarkable thing is the unpretentious, gregarious and laid back service that goes with the evening.
To further establish their very ‘unlike-other-2 star-restaurants-in-Paris’ vibe, there were even a few children there for dinner, for whom there is a very apt menu that the restaurant is more than happy to provide! Bonus points! Our evening started off with a coarse White asparagus and garlic cream, followed by a perfect Catalan gazpacho, brioche croutons. From there, one of the best dishes of the night, Caviar, sour cream, confit potato, almond tuile was followed by a rather mediocre Gyoza a la plancha with an Asian broth. Nothing about the dish stood out and the chicken gyoza especially was rather short on flavour. Nevertheless, this was soon conquered by a very classic and Roast foie gras with glazed cherries and hibiscus dressing before taking a nose dive with Cocotte eggs, creme legere of girolles. The main reason for the downfall was a big spoonful of gritty mushroom!
Another classic re-interpretation of Red mullet, vierge condiments, sweet cumin dressing had a calm, earthiness to it before my main course of Roast quail stuffed with foie gras and truffle mash brought alive all the reputed intensities of Robuchon in one fell swoop! Unctuous, rich, a straight hitting knock out dish. Of course, as soon as the waiter utters the words ‘the famous mash’ you know that you’re basically eating butter emulsified by potato. It’s the kind of mashed potato you want to smear all over your body and have it licked off slowly. Miss N’s Ongelet with confit shallot fondant turned out to be equally vibrant.
The first dessert to almost knock us off our seats was Strawberries, olive oil croquant, vanilla crusted citrus fruit, basil cream. Mouthgasm. As was the finest and lightest chocolate dessert of Valrhona araguani ganache, grue de cacao sorbet, crushed oreos. Ah, the wonder of eroticism in desserts that make you roll your eyes back as your senses shudder with each mouthgasm. What fun!
On the other hand, however, the best thing about being in Paris in August is that after a meal like this, one can lazily saunter down the cobbled streets of Saint-Germain and towards the banks of the Seine where a long and delirious walk is, naturally, the only order of the day.