With its sleek interior and busy lunch crowd, the Atelier de Joel Robuchon at the Hotel Pont Royal seemed like a sure bet for a chic dinner before a night of partying with a girlfriend. Au contraire.
We arrived at 8:30 and were seated rather awkwardly at the hotel bar, even though places were obviously available at the sushi style counters. After 15 minutes, even my francopatience (high threshold for patience acquired by prolonged living in France) had run out, and I swiftly made my way to the host. Ah oui, here are your seats.
Seated. Overlooking the kitchen and the bar from our high barstools, we admired the general ambiance, even if the crowd was sparse and older than expected. Then the real awkwardness began. Our waiter, a 20 something year old Frenchman, could not stop ogling us. Soon, another waiter from the other side of the room came over to say bonsoir. And then the kitchen staff peaked out from behind their saucepans! My friend and I looked at each other in self-conscious disbelief. Did we forget to put clothes on?
I was about to call them on their obvious inability to contain themselves, when one of the waiters exclaimed that I looked just like a famous actress (No, it wasn’t BB). This still did not excuse the behaviour, which made the entire evening uncomfortable, even after 2 large glasses of wine.
Then, an older couple from Texas was seated next to us. The restaurant has been voted one of the best places to meet people, as well as one of the best places to dine alone. Don’t believe everything you read! After we introduced ourselves to the couple, the hostess seated a single woman next to them. Nooo, it was just sad, sad, sad. The conversation was bizarre, forced, and dare I say… depressing!
The dishes were well presented and above-average, if a little small. The dessert– a fabulous concoction of chambord chocolate mousse– was amazing. But to give the evening one more bizzare twist, the waiter intervened and actually coached me on how to position the spoon in my mousse for optimal flavor! S’il vous plait!
Between the poor service, ogling waiters, odd conversation, and money-she-would-have-rather-spent-on-champagne, PetiteBrigitte has too many reasons to say non to L’Atelier!