Compared to its buttoned-up sister restaurant next door, the l’atelier (French for workshop) of Chef Robuchon is downright casual. Make no mistake, it’s still very much a fine dining experience, but one where you’re not afraid to use the wrong fork or laugh really loud. The best seats are at the counter around the open kitchen, where you can watch the choreography of the chefs preparing your meal on a black box stage, and chat with fellow patrons.
The food here is as meticulously constructed at the big Robuchon, but approaches the realm of comfort food, if your idea of comfort includes the fancy Spanish ham jamon Iberico sliced right off the leg and placed onto tomato toast. The signature foie gras-stuffed quail is tiny, but rich and satisfying, especially when accompanied by Robuchon’s famed pommes purée—the silkiest, creamiest mashed potatoes you’ll ever eat, reportedly made with a pound of butter for each pound of potatoes. The multi-course seasonal discovery menu will set you back (but not nearly as much as Robuchon next door), though there are a couple of three-course prix fixe menus at around $100 pop, and one pre-theater offering of $50, so it’s possible to experience a meal here without breaking the bank.