L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon in Taipei opened in November 2009 and we’ve been fortunate to enjoy dinner twice there over the past year. We had tried over and over again to confirm the opening date last October/November, but no one had any concrete information. Turns out, it opened while we were traveling in Belize so it would not have mattered much anyways. Once we arrived back in Taipei, it took nearly a month before they had any openings so we sucked it up and cursed at all the photos we saw posted online in the meantime. LOL
We started traveling quite a bit after that dinner so we had not had the opportunity to go back until Brett decided to get reservations for this Christmas Eve since we decided to stay local for the holidays. Since it’s been a year and there have been some changes including a new sommelier and executive chef, I thought it was important to post pictures and a recap of our first visit (we’re a little behind after having all our electronic equipment destroyed in a boating mishap right before we visited Robuchon the first time!)
During opening, L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon featured set menus and a number of a la carte courses, but we opted to try the largest of the set menus to enjoy the true Robuchon experience. Here is a look at the courses we enjoyed during our initial visit:
The first course was amuse bouche and I believe it was a blood sausage with fruit (perhaps apple) sauce.
The next course was a “Surprise of Caviar”. This was Brett’s first time trying a whole terrine of caviar so I was quite interested to see how he would like it. I think the surprise was the fact that Brett actually enjoyed it. Oh, how he’s transformed from the beer drinking burger eating Expat in the Netherlands! 🙂
We moved on to a light carrot mousse topped with sea urchin and jellied beef consomme. What an interesting combination of flavors. Brett actually liked this less than the caviar. I am not that surprised since I find sea urchin to be quite an acquired taste and for the first timer, it can be a bit overpowering.
The next course to arrive was a seaweed-butter poached Bretonne oyster. Ahhh, another one of Brett’s least favorite things – seaweed! Fortunately, the flavor was not overpowering — fine for us, but probably a bit disappointing for locals.
Le Foie Gras
This was the star of the show in my opinion! Foie gras ravioli in chicken bouillon with coriander and espelette cream.
We moved on to the fish course, which was a seared grouper with gingered leeks and citrus brown butter sauce. Anything with a brown butter sauce is fine by me! The combination of the gingered leeks and brown butter were a great compliment to the light fish.
More foie gras! Now we were served a free-range quail stuffed with foie gras, served with a truffled potato puree. Heaven! This course definitely took over as #1 in my book at that point.
This was the first of what ended up being three desserts for us, although there were only two on the menu. This was described as “fruits Macedonia with sauce feneuille and fleur de biere gelee’ — basically a palate cleanser.
This dessert was unbelievable. It was a sugar sphere filled with passion fruit mousse and coconut milk. It was so light and delicate. The sphere glistened in the low lights inside Robuchon and was quite a sight to behold.
Le Cafe Express
We finished off with divine French Macarons, which certainly rivaled any from Pierre Herme! As we were enjoying our coffee and Macarons, one of the kitchen staff came over to chat. She said the pastry chef wanted to offer us an additional dessert, which we certainly did not turn down! Unfortunately, since it has been a year and my notes are somewhere still packed in a box after our last move, I do not have the exact details of what was in this one. It was a sorbet topped with some type of foam (obviously). I do remember that the taste was divine!
As usual, we were the last ones in the restaurant and chatted with Cesar, the Sommelier, for a bit before finally heading out. As we were leaving, the staff suggested we take some photos in the “lobby” and next to the big wine cellar. Since we never take that many photos together, we couldn’t say no!