Chef Joël Robuchon returns to the New York City dining scene next week after five years away with the opening of L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon, his low-frills tasting menu restaurant that’s one of the most acclaimed fine dining restaurants in the world.
It’s essentially an upscale chain restaurant; many of the ten locations hold more than one Michelin star. A return to NYC is a long time coming — Robuchon and his business partner Alex Gaudelet of Invest Hospitality, the investment firm in charge of U.S. Robuchon restaurants, have been looking to reopen a NYC L’Atelier since the Midtown location closed in 2012. After some false starts, they’ve taken over the former Colicchio & Sons space in the Meatpacking District at 85 10th Avenue, between 15th and 16th streets.
But since 2012, Robuchon has changed — and the new L’Atelier in New York will be a little bit different, too. In the last year, the chef has taken a new focus on his health, prompted by rising cholesterol levels. He’s lost 60 pounds. He pays more attention to whether ingredients are organic now. He’s been talking to a nutritionist.
Practically speaking, that means L’Atelier will offer a vegetarian tasting menu that Robuchon considers “actually more sophisticated than the rest of the menu,” he says. “It takes a lot more effort to put together a very good vegetarian dish.” Expect dishes like a beet tartare, cut up with diced apple and topped with a spicy green mustard sorbet.
“Mr. Robuchon started this initiative as a necessity because of his health,” Gaudelet says.
Still, the newest location of L’Atelier — best known for being a seminal French fine dining restaurant in a more casual bar-like setting — will be similar to the other global outposts. The kitchen is open, where 34 diners can sit at a counter and watch the chefs work.
Robuchon’s also lined up an experienced team for his NYC reentry. Executive chef Christophe Bellanca is a longtime veteran of L’Atelier restaurants, while pastry chef Salvatore Martone has been with the chef for 12 years and head baker Tetsuya Yamaguchi has been with him for two decades.
Like other outposts, the restaurant will offer two nine-course tasting menus, one with meat and one with vegetables, as well as an a la carte menu. Tastings will be priced in the upper $200s, including tip. Any new menu items specific to New York likely won’t roll out until later this year.
To attract the nightlife crowd in Meatpacking as well as any work lunches, the front dining room houses Le Bar de Joël Robuchon, a 56-seat and lower cost restaurant with only an a la carte menu. Here, dishes like croque monsieur, lobster bisque, and roasted chicken will be on deck.
Robuchon, a chef with more Michelin stars than any person in the world, is anxious about the new opening. “New York is the capital of the world,” he says. “It was very important for me to be in New York for that very reason.”
L’Atelier and Le Bar open next week for dinner from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Make a reservation by calling 212-488-8885 or visiting the restaurant’s website.