Food Porn Paris Part Deux: Where the Salt Meets the Caramel

French breakfast
Oh la la – French breakfast

Sick of hearing me blather and brag about my wonderful weekend in Paris yet? Too bad! You guuuuyyyys, I haven’t even gotten to the best parts yet. Oh wait. I did already write about the shoes, didn’t I? Yeah, those were the best part. But other interesting stuff happened as well, I swear. Just humor me a couple of more days.

When last we left off, this little Poe had eaten her way through a giant Grand Marnier soufflé.

For our second night in Paris, we went to New York uberchef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Market, a very chic and trendy spot in the very chic and trendy 8th Arr.

Market Restaurant, Paris

Vongerichten is probably best known for his New York restaurants, including Spice Market, and this place was very New York. Sleek, beautiful dining room full of sleek, beautiful staff. If only there were as efficient as they were pretty. The service was a bit lackluster. For example, we wanted to enjoy our champagne cocktail and wait to order. This threw everyone for a loop, and several people came over a number of times to see if we were ready to order.

You would have thought that over-attentiveness would seep over into the later dinner service, but non. We sat with empty plates a number of times.

The food was good, but not great, and I thought the pricing was fair—a bit expensive, but not overly so. We started with foie gras with plum and spicy fig. The foie gras was very rich, so accompanying it with a sweet, fruity component was a very good idea.

For mains, I had the steamed sea bass with carrots and XFE had the lamb chops with a mushroom ‘bolognese.’ Again, it was all fine, just not overwhelming. The plating was beautiful (we didn’t take pictures) and everything was cooked to perfection, but the flavors didn’t blow us away.

Then came dessert, which was my favorite dish of the whole entire trip. We ordered a salted peanut and buttered caramel sundae, and holy sweet and salty, it was amazing. Divine. Heavenly, if you will. I can’t remember all the details since I was mostly sitting back with my eyes rolling in my head in ecstasy, but there were a lot of different temperatures and textures (there was even caramel popcorn on the plate) and it was all very, very good. I love any combination of sweet and salty and this dessert hit all my tongue’s happy spots.

For our final night in Paris, we decided to go to the highly recommended and oh so hard to get into, L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon. It’s not really hard to get into, you just have to be very determined and patient to do so.

L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon, Paris

I mean, they do have two Michelin stars, and are listed as #14 on the World’s Best Restaurants list. And, more importantly, Running Buddy Amy ate there recently and declared it wonderful. So, that pretty much sealed the deal.

The only reservations they give out are at 6:30 and while we are Old-Country-Time-Buffeters and everything, we knew we didn’t want to eat that early. The other option is to just go and get on the list for one of the 44 seats.

We knew we were in for a wait, so we didn’t rush down there. I think we strolled up to the restaurant at around 8 pm. We were told we would be seated for dinner at 10 pm. We did what people do when they’re facing a long wait and went to a movie. I kid. We went to the lovely, dark-paneled hotel bar next door. Where I proceeded to eavesdrop on the conversations of everyone else in the hushed little room, and where there might have been a few too many drinks and not enough eating for this little Poe. I was a teensy bit tipsy by the time our 10 pm slot came and went. Another 40 minutes and multiple staff apologies later, we were finally seated at the cool, sushi-style bar.

L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon, Paris

The staff were very, very nice and friendly, and spoke excellent English, which it turns out is very necessary since the entire menu was completely in French without even the slightest hints in English to suggest what anything was. We were completely overwhelmed. We could make out that there was a 7 course tasting menu, but decided we wanted to pick just a few things ala carte and share. But where to start?

 L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon, Paris

Luckily, a California couple next to us had just been seated as well and had visited the restaurant numerous times. They helped guide us to a few of their favorites and we picked a few other dishes. But I can’t help but feel that without a complete understanding of all the choices, we might have missed out on some things we would have liked. For example, I’ve read in subsequent reviews about bone marrow, something that I know XFE would have really enjoyed. (Not me. It just seems so completely invasive. You can’t get much further into an animal than to suck on its marrow. Skeeves me out.) I don’t know that marrow was on the menu that night, but I would have liked to know.

We started with a special of sea bream carpaccio that was delicious – light, sparkling, perfectly seasoned. It was wonderful and went beautifully with our champagne.

Sea bream carpaccio at  L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon, Paris

I can’t quite remember the order of everything, but we also had L’Atelier’s version of macaroni, which came with foie gras and mushrooms on top of a single layer of penne – very rich and satisfying. Another pasta dish, a spaghetti carbonara with smoked Alsatian bacon and crème fraiche was out of this world. So good. And, unlike the other portions of everything, the carbonara was actually a pretty decent size.

Spaghetti carbonara at  L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon, Paris

And an eggplant dish that was good as well.

Eggplant at L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon, Paris

We also had baby lamb chops, that were teeny tiny, but cooked to pink perfection and served with the most amazing buttery mash potatoes I’ve ever tasted. They were like a puree of perfection. I could have eaten those all night. They were to die for. Deservedly famous.

Lamb and potatoes at L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon, Paris

For dessert, we had their chocolate heaven, which was delicious and had about five different tastes and textures, including cold, creamy, crunchy and gooey. It was satisfying, but not as showstopping as other deserts we’d had on the trip. L’Atelier also sent us on our way with some salted caramels, which was a very nice touch.

Dessert at L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon, Paris

XFE thought the service at L’Atelier was a bit rushed, which it might have been, since we were literally among the last people seated and the place was closing as soon as we were out. The kitchen staff was cleaning the open, theater-like kitchen like a bunch of whirling dervishes while we were having dessert. But overall it was a very nice last meal in Paris.