Fashion Food at – “L’Atelier Saint-Germain de Joël Robuchon PARIS, FRANCE”

Luxury small-plate dining goes from strength to strength

Joël Robuchon came out of a brief and early retirement with a bang in 2003, introducing the world to a radical new approach to haute cuisine at his L’Atelier restaurants in Paris and Tokyo. Out went starched linen and sombre service and in came bare-wood tables and a more relaxed approach to fine dining. The concept proved so popular that there are now eight L’Ateliers in cities around the world including London, Las Vegas and Hong Kong, but the Saint-Germain restaurant remains the original and best.

Sporting a sleek black-and-red colour scheme, the dining room centres around a bustling open kitchen and sushi-style dining counter where guests are served small plates of exquisite French food. Belgian-born executive chef Axel Manes, who has worked for such illustrious names as Paul Bocuse, Alain Ducasse and Nicolas Le Bec, mans the stove on a day-to-day basis. He brings a light touch to the kitchen, skilfully preparing classics such as pied de cochon (pig’s trotter) with Parmesan and black truffle gratin, alongside the signature foie gras burger and globe-trotting dishes such as gyoza chicken dumplings with aromatic herb and flower-scented broth.

There’s great theatre in watching the chefs hard at work in the open kitchen, but it never threatens to detract from the intimacy and enjoyment of the dining experience. It’s a winning formula that has been much replicated, but rarely bettered, by others across the restaurant world.

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