L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon, Roppongi Hills ラトリエ ドゥ ジョエル・ロブション 六本木ヒルズ
Even in a place such as Tokyo which values execution so highly, you sometimes have to be careful of the colonial outposts of masters like Joel Robuchon. For example Gordon Ramsey at the Conrad, when I visited some years ago, really did not deliver anything exciting - at least not to justify the hype and certainly not to risk violating one's purse for another visit. And don't even mention Wolfgang Puck - actually I'd be surprised if he ever set foot in one of his tacky namesakes in Roppongi.
Robuchon is in a class of his own, of course, but even Homer nods and I can attest that it is, in fact, possible to be disappointed at La Table on the ground floor at Chateau Robuchon in Ebisu. However on a recent visit to Atelier at Roppongi Hills, no such feelings were to be had. I have been there three times now and the food, service and overall execution are always up to a standard I wish we could emulate in my home country. Hah - as the hero of my personal quest to Japan maybe that's my purpose in life when one day I shall return!
My dining partner and I opted for the 5,000 yen menu which featured an amuse of rillettes en croute, two entrees - one of asparagus and crab pudding and the other of shittake en croute. The main was a bavette (which is cut from the abdominal muscles of the cow). I'm not such a fan of bavette as it can be kind of iffy in texture, bloody and oozy (ok that's a bit over the top) but this was delicious and served with Robuchon's famous pommes puree (mashed potato to the rest of us). I have to tell you the pommes puree at Atelier is not a patch on what you can find in Toulouse, here: http://restaurantlacorde.com/. Maybe I was just in a good mood when I visited there, but I have never tasted mashed potato like that in my life. I will return, even though all the staff went home while we were still eating dinner. Hey, pas grave it's France after all.
Atelier is the most workmanlike of the Robuchon portfolio here in Tokyo, but unbeatable for a business or personal lunch that requires a special touch, but need not be over the top. If I worked in Roppongi Hills this would be my canteen for sure!
Here are the pics. I should add that the champagne and rioja ordered by the glass hit the spot very well. And please note that the dessert was half eaten by the time I remembered to take a pic. It was goooood.