Mon to Sun, 12:00 noon-2:30 pm
Mon to Sun, 6:30 pm-10:30 pm
2 rooms for 4 to 8
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The main dining area of L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon, set within the Landmark mall in Central, is a huge horseshoe-shaped bar wrapped around a large open kitchen. Not everyone will love this seating arrangement, as it is really not the most comfortable, but it’s where you can watch your meal being prepared, expedited and served. For those wishing for a more comfortable perch, a more relaxing meal can be enjoyed at Le Jardin, the traditional dining room at the back. A similar menu is served there, excluding the good-value tasting menu (HK$780 for five courses) and the tapas selection available at L’Atelier. Although the bar may look less formal, most of the accoutrements of fine dining are still in place, such as the beautiful crockery and cutlery.
L’Atelier serves a classically French menu, with some Asian influences. Sometimes, these additions can be rather unexpected and not the most pleasant, as when we ordered a starter of “eggplant cream with soft-boiled egg, Iberico ham and croutons”. The description failed to note that the dish comes with a generous dash of curry powder, which completely overwhelms the delicate flavours of the soup. Thankfully, when we brought this point up with staff, it was quickly replaced by a far more pleasant plate of 36-month old Joselito Gran Reserva ham with a garlicky tomato bread. A much safer starter is the signature La Langoustine, which consists of three scampi ravioli, garnished with black truffle and foie gras sauce. We loved the creamy yet light sauce and the silky thin pasta, but were a bit dismayed to find that although our first two scampi were perfectly cooked, the last one was mushy. For mains, the beef tartar contained another surprise: a significant amount of spice. This time though, we rather enjoyed this unexpected kick, especially as the plate was beautifully presented with a whole disc of finely diced tartar covered with black truffle, and a gold leaf-wrapped quail egg. Our other main was the spaghetti with sea urchin and a poached egg. Usually, the problem with this dish is that the pasta is too hot and overcooks the egg, resulting in an unpleasantly grainy texture. This was not the case at all here, as the texture was simply beautiful, with the yellow egg yolk coating every strand. However, while the amount of sea urchin was overwhelmingly generous and impressive, we didn’t actually taste the flavour of it too much. At least dessert ensured that we left happy: the Chocolate Sensation is a must-order, with a rich creamy Guanaja mousse and cocoa sorbet topped with a quality slice of thin chocolate.
The wine list at L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon is widely acknowledged to be the best in town, with good reason. It is a tome packed with treasures that many wine-lovers can happily spend hours poring through. For the discerning, there are surprisingly reasonable bottles in here, while newcomers to the wine world will be very well taken care of by both the knowledgeable staff and sommelier. An impressive wine-by-the-glass selection is also available.
The bar seating gives guests the interesting experience of having first-class haute French cuisine, but in a much more informal atmosphere. There are both pros and cons to this approach: on the plus side, it’s great fun to watch the chefs in the open kitchen behind you, but on the other hand, it’s a bit odd to be able to hear waiters openly discuss your order from the other side of the bar and leaning precariously over the bar to hand you your food. It is, however, overall efficient, prompt and knowledgeable, and the constant bustle in front of you means that it's never hard to get a staff member's attention.
If seated at the bar, the tasting menu is one of the best bargains in town. Priced at HK$780, it includes five well-sized courses that will guarantee you leave happy and satisfied. If ordering a la carte, expect to spend no less than HK$3,500 for two, with a glass of wine each and a shared dessert.