Tasting Extravaganza @ L'Atelier Joel Robuchon - 24/04/14

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To mark our 1 year anniversary this weekend, my wonderful boyfriend decided to surprise me by treating me (and more importantly himself!) to dinner at L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon. Not one to do things by halves he opted for the full blown 10-course tasting menu, something I have to say I’d usually avoid as generally there are one or two courses, if not more, which simply aren’t to my tastes (an excessive use of fois gras, for instance, being one).

Happily on this occasion, I’m very glad he made all the decisions for me (other than the wine of course which is always a joint effort!) as this particular tasting menu was really one not to be missed. Every course was prepared and delivered impeccably, something one doesn’t see enough of in HK despite such high prices when dining in restaurants. If you have an allergy to anything on the menu, the chef will readily prepare something different to ensure you don’t miss out on any of the courses which I think is a really nice, not to mention highly professional, touch. 

Needless to say the food was delicious. Some courses better than others naturally but overall really well executed with lovely contrasts of flavours and textures. Rich ingredients were used in the perfect amount and portion size well controlled ensuring we got to the end of the marathon feeling full but not to the point of bursting. 

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We of course had some delicious wines to pair throughout. The restaurant doesn’t have a specific wine pairing to go with the menu but their by the glass selection is one of the most interesting and diverse I have seen in HK, particularly because they feature a number of older vintages, something rare to find on by the glass lists here. 

We started with the Ruinart Rose NV. A much better option than their House Champagne Veuve Cliquot NV. For around 60 bucks more you can get a glass of a really tasty Champagne so I’d always recommend spending this extra if the house Champagne is a brand you can easily buy in the supermarket. The Ruinart Rose was very elegant on the nose with floral touches and some red berry fruit with touches of lemon. Medium body, a lovely smooth mousse, some hints of brioche and subtle savoury touches. A lovely wine to get us started for the first few courses. (17)

Next we had a glass of the Chateau d’Yquem Lur-Saluces Y 2008. This is Chateau d’Yquem’s dry white wine, a blend of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc. Particularly oily on the nose with some nice complexity added from grassy touches and hints of lemon, peach, apricot, floral and honey notes. Medium to full bodied with similar flavours as the aromas and a long honeyed, floral finish. A highly unique wine and one well worth trying if you’re looking for something a bit different and some interesting food pairing results. (17.5)

The red wine look a while to choose as we were trying to find something within our budget (most wines are well over HK$1,500 so you have to know what your looking for or be exceedingly rich!). The wine list is one of the biggest in HK and one I could spend hours pouring over. As I usually do when priced out of France is look to Italy or Spain as normally there are some wonderful wines at more accessible prices. 

I decided upon a 1998 Paolo Scavino Barolo Carobric which proved to be the highlight of the evening. Wonderfully perfumed, scented violet notes overlying plum and black cherry fruit aromas and a touch of spice. From the nose, appearing still very youthful. Medium bodied with smooth, rounded, chalky tannins and the same violet, plum, cherry character from the nose on the palate. Lovely balance, complexity and concentration and a very long length. A wine with tons of life ahead of it yet drinking very nicely now. Opened up and kept on giving with decanting. Highly recommended! (18.5)

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If you’re looking for a serious treat, Joel Robuchon won’t disappoint. Although the price tag is hefty (around HK$2,000 per head without wine), if you’re anything like me, you do this sort of thing once in a blue moon and when you do it’s because you want to experience beyond what the everyday can deliver. Roll on Anniversary number 2!

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