L’atelier De Joël Robuchon: Business lunch for two with four glasses of house wine AED557 ($151, £110, ₦62,416) L’atelier De Joël Robuchon, Gate village 11/ Podium level, Al Boursa street – DIFC – Dubai. 04 297 7729. www.atelier-robuchon.ae

Dear InsaneArmy

This is an open apology, I did the unthinkable and left all of you incredible humans hanging without a word, I am sorry. These last few months have brought a lot of life-shifting change that has left me jumping in glorious euphoria in one minute and grappling for air the next and that has greatly impacted my creative flow, writing has been a most daunting task these last few months. While things are still a bit shaky for me at the moment, I am confident that they will start coming up with Benson real soon.

Now, back to the order of the day. I was having a rather stressful few weeks and my dear Indian friend, Baquar, who is a connoisseur of all things fine dining, thought the best therapy for me would be food. But I did not need any off the shelf, already been done before fine dining, to cure my funk, I needed something incredibly spectacular and life-changing that wouldn’t also dent a hole in my bank account. 

I wanted drama, iconic presentations, soul singing, and delicious dishes. I wanted food that wasn’t just food, I craved an experience that stimulated not just my taste buds, but all my senses. I wanted Haute Cuisine: Our choice restaurant had to be characterized by meticulous preparation and careful presentation and where better to search for this than the backbone of all modern gastronomy, French cuisine. When we came across L’atelier De Joël Robuchon, the OG of all OG’s, Baqaur and I shared a look, a smile, and a squeal, we had found our answer.

Joël Robuchon was undoubtedly the most iconic chef to have ever lived. The brilliant French Chef and restaurateur was named “Chef of the Century” by the guide Gault Millau in 1989, and awarded the Meilleur Ouvrier de France in cuisine in 1976. His brilliant innovations with food led him to accumulate a total of 32 Michelin Guide stars – the most of any chef in the world. Dining at his establishment almost feels like an ethereal experience; like the angels had come down and prepared the dishes. Did Dubai live up to that expectation?

AMBIANCE

In typical Benson fashion, I showed fashionably late to a slightly annoyed Baqaur. After pleasantries had been exchanged, I took a deep breath and welcomed the high-end, minimalist yet very opulent decor. Textured black seats and booths filled the space with glossy wood tables set up to perfection. A marble half wall separating the dining area from the open kitchen allows guests a sneak peek at the multinational army of Chefs slicing, dicing, and plating dishes. Crimson light fixtures cast a soft aura over the entire space, giving it a near out-of-this-world experience. I was In awe.

THE FOOD

A selection of fresh bread paired with olive oil and balsamic vinegar welcomed us. Without missing a beat, a pair of amuse bouche served in shot glasses topped with freshly grated truffles opened up our palette. 

For starters, we shared the eggplant with mozzarella, zucchini, olive oil, and tomato confit and the salmon tataki with guacamole and yuzu. A rather unexpected combination, I found the salmon to be the highlight of the starters, the perfect balance of intense Japanese and Mexican flavors sent reverberating chills of comfort down my body.

Our second round of starters featured the shrimp gyoza in langoustine broth with chives and parsley and the poached ouef (eggs), carbonara style with beef bacon served in a martini glass. The gyoza was absolute perfection, encapsulating everything a Japanese dumpling should be. The poached ouef, however, was a whole other business. Huge points on the presentation, any food served in martini glasses is always a plus for me, except this one. The crunchy hit of the bacon was a welcomed surprise element, I found the buckets of mousse slightly annoying, and the egg wasn’t actually cooked as I had assumed, I was left with the struggle of eating through thick foam and dangling strings of uncooked egg whites, – not a very pleasant look. 

For the main event, I had the black cod infused with daikon and marinade. The presentation was honestly a lovely structurally perfect and visually beautiful heap of ingredients, but somehow the black cod got lost in it all. I felt like the dish fell below par. The flavor profile was bland and not at all exciting, it did not incorporate the naturally delicious flavor of the cod, which particularly was what I was looking forward to. While having this, my heart wept because I felt like the essence of the dish had sadly passed away with the great Chef Joël Robuchon.

Baquar ordered the beef bourguignon (replacing the glazed veal belly) with soy sauce, eryngii mushroom, and souffle potato. On the first bite, I was immediately overwhelmed by the positive potential the dish possibly could’ve held, however, the chewiness did it badly for me. The mushrooms offered great promise, so much so that we tried to order it on the side – it was that good. 

We skipped dessert and instead opted for two more glasses of house wine as we reflected on the future and shared each other’s plans for the coming months.

FINAL THOUGHTS – Would I go back?

The real question is when? While the business lunch had its hits and misses, I am positively aching to try the tasting dinner menu and explore some of the finest works of Chef Joël.

Thank you for reading, see you next review.

Follow my Instagram to stay up to date with all my latest food fines @thebensonekpo.

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