L’ATELIER de Joël Robuchon ranks among the top three French restaurants in Bangkok for authentic but fun dining.
On an almost secretive fifth floor of the Cube, that serves as an integral retail section of MahaNakhon, the city’s tallest tower, the L’Atelier is today one of the very best places for a business lunch or a romantic evening of superb dining.
It oozes with gastronomical delights, a great wine selection and an ambience second to none. Where else would you find a sushi counter bar as part of the masterpieces in a five-star French restaurant?
Brasseries should have that rawness, breadcrumbs on the floor and the smell of wooden floors. Here, we are sampling a futuristic space, more akin to ‘Blade Runner.’
Its creator Joel Robuchon is one of the world’s most famous chefs whose global outlets have earned a combined 25 plus Michelin stars, perhaps the highest tribute that can be bestowed in cooking. Michelin stars are the equivalent to movie Oscars.
Its high counter bar is perhaps one of the best examples of Robuchon’s creativity. Why would a French chef want a sushi counter as a signature for his restaurant?
Perch yourself on a stool at the bar and you will soon find out the difference it makes.
On his many travels, Robuchon discovered that the counter bar works wonderfully in Japan and Spain because its diners enjoy the casualness and friendly atmosphere it brings.
Here the stiffness, the stuffy stressful air blows away.
Business clients are happy to do away with the formalities and protocols at workplaces. They can be seated close to a stranger and yet, feel comfortable and feel free to start a conversation.
They can enjoy the company of someone they just met, making the meal more special.
No other form of dining offers this aspect of social interaction, which is natural, healthy and adds to a pleasurable dining experience.
Most people have to wear a mask at work, whether at corporations or banks and even more so at government departments. But here, they can be themselves.
As such, L’Atelier is one of Bangkok’s best kept secrets. Its menu and wine list is divine, which helps explain its popularity with Bangkok’s more sophisticated business and professional diners.
While many attest the Normandie Grill at the Oriental is the best in town for French cuisine, already many more others have switched. They find Robuchon’s creation superior and more satisfying.
But they are keeping it close to their hearts. Why start a stampede and lose your seat at this exquisitely establishment? Its fans are actually delighted that a poll by Trip Advisor ranks it 27th on its list of fine dining outlets (Normandie was third).
True connoisseurs don’t need polls. They don’t need maps or a compasses to find great kitchens. Not even an app.
L’Atelier is open daily at the Cube retail structure where the Dean& DeLuca outlet sits on the ground floor. Casual elegant dress is fine but no sandals please.
Joël Robuchon has been recognized by his industry peers as ‘Chef of the Century’ in 1990, ‘Chef of the Year’ in 1987 and ‘Meilleur Ouvrier de France’ in 1976. He is currently holding the highest number of ratings in the world with 25 Michelin stars, including four 3-star restaurants in Las Vegas, Macau, Tokyo and Hong Kong.
His Bangkok concept here is an exclusive open kitchen. It was created to offer interaction between chefs and diners, encouraging the chefs to better their craft.
The atmosphere of conviviality lets diners relax, he says, and be liberated seated around the kitchen, watching as chefs work on new ideas and fusing recipes.
Drawing inspiration from Japanese cuisine and the vibrant atmosphere in Spanish tapas bars, the ‘L’Atelier’ concept, meaning ‘workshop’, was born.
The décor of the restaurant has been designed by world renowned Pierre-Yves Rochon and emphasizes on red and black graphic colors.
L’Atelier is divided into two areas – L’Atelier and La Terrace. While the seats of L’Atelier area are organized around the open kitchen, La Terrace offers a more traditional dining area along with two private rooms for diners who prefer a calm and relaxed environment.
The establishment offers surprisingly great fish as well as meats, including wild game. Needless to say the foie gras and cheese dishes are must haves as well as miniature signature burgers.
Lunch operating hours are 11.20 a.m. to 2 p.m. and dinner is between 6.30 p.m. and 10.30 p.m.
Top: The counter bar is a unique signature of L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon at MahaNakhon’s Cube building off Sathorn Road, near the BTS Station at Chong Nonsi.
First inset: Joel Robuchon ranks among the very best French chefs in the world.
Second inset: L’Atelier is for many connoisseurs, the best French restaurant in town.
By Cimi Schontan