If you are on the streets using googlemaps, the entrance to Joel Robuchon Etoile couldn’t be harder to find. We were looking out for some indications of a posh looking restaurant but there was nothing that even vaguely hinted to where the restaurant was. We finally discovered it was inside a bookstore, very much like how there used to be a cafe inside the now-defunct Borders bookstore at Wheelock place. Truly an unexpected location for a restaurant holding two Michelin Stars.
Set lunches are priced fairly at 42 Euros / 62 Euros / 82 Euros for 3, 4 and 5 courses (exclusive of the amuse bouche course) respectively.
The kitchen operates on an open concept to allow patrons to better appreciate the efforts taken to prepare their food. It also allows for easier interaction with the friendly servers.
One of the few noteworthy dishes of the meal was our amuse bouche, a 3 layered shot of warm foie gras mousse topped with port wine sauce and parmesan foam. Definitely a winning combination with a well thought out layering sequence for a perfect transition of flavours. As the spoon entered my mouth, I first detected the rich fatty liver mousse, subsequently complemented by sweet port sauce, with the journey ending off with a savoury airy foam. One of the most blissful few seconds in recent years.
The Mackerel appetizer was one of our server’s recommendations and that’s what I got. My friends took quite a liking to it but personally, I was severely disappointed. While the flesh was rather tender, the skin lacked an adequate sear and turned out soggy. The belly portion wasn’t as fatty as I would have liked either and the fish was rather cold by the time I dug in (which could also be the reason why the skin was soggy). I guess the plus points for the dish was the delicious mustard sauce and visual vibrancy.
M got himself the Maine Lobster with Sugar Lettuce (11 Euros supplement). I preferred this to the fish but again, it didn’t stand out much.
I also had a side order of the Foie Gras with French Sourdough (29 Euros). I found the texture of the foie gras pretty smooth compared to the ones I have at more casual diners during my trip but I didn’t fancy the accompanying compote.
For main, I had the Chicken with Tuna Sauce. The chicken breast was sliced thinly and awfully tender. The tuna sauce was unexpectedly smooth as well. While the execution was flawless, it did seem a little simplistic for such a reputable French restaurant.
M had the Iberico Pork (11 Euros supplement) which was extremely tough. He feedbacked that the sauce was marvelous though.
Another well-executed but simplistic dish was the Deep-Fried Whiting Fish. It was the best “Fish without the Chips” that I have had with outstanding freshness of the fish and extraordinarily light batter.
All mains were served with a heavenly velvety mash.
Desserts as a whole was very meh, especially the Mango Mousse and Yoghurt with Papaya Coulis.
I made the correct choice picking the Coffee dessert, comprising of a Coffee Jelly base, Cocoa Crumble, Chantilly Coffee and Coffee Ice Cream. What I liked most was the playful integration of textures.
Frankly, I’m on the fence about this one. The food is by no means terrible but my elevated expectations were not met during this luncheon. In my humble opinion, for the same price paid, there are better alternatives in Paris. On the other hand, raising the pot and opting for their degustation menu might produce significantly better results.
PS: There is a small booth near the restaurant entrance selling Pierre Herme macarons which perhaps warrants dropping by if your desserts don’t turn out as well as planned. The Arc de Triomphe is a 3 minutes walk from the restaurant, so plan your itinerary accordingly if you are a visiting tourist.
L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon Etoile
133 Avenue des Champs-Elysees