There are no secrets at the restaurant Robert. The kitchen is wide open to diners seated in the room next to it, and there are even two counter seats looking straight into it. It’s a stage where tattooed (is there a law that creative young chefs must be heavily tattooed?) Australian chef Peter Orr and his brigade perform.
They put on a great show the night we were there, and since it was a calm Wednesday evening, we even got to chat with the chef across the counter.
The first act for my friend was a warming and heartwarming green asparagus soup with marinated salmon and salmon roe.
I started with artichokes with calçot (a type of mild Catalonian scallion). The cooked bulb was part of the body of the dish while the stalks were used to make a green sauce, a counterpoint to the other sauce of jellied yogurt. It was topped with a little poutargue (cured fish roe) and crispy fried quinoa, creating a symphony of textures and flavors.
My friend had been craving lamb, and luckily it was one of the four main-course choices on the menu that evening. Soon after we ordered, we saw the chef carefully browning a lovely hunk of meat on the grill. We lost track of what happened to it afterward, but it later showed up cut in half and perfectly pink and flavorful on her plate. It was decorated with a couple of matching-pink wilted radicchio leaves and accompanied by a candied carrot, particularly delicious puréed carrots with cumin and a round of potato topped with a ball containing shredded lamb. My friend was in heaven.
I was just as impressed with my barbue (brill) –and it’s a real feat to impress me with fish. Juicy inside and crispy outside, it was topped with tiny crunchy croutons and capers for extra flavor. I was positively ecstatic about the beautiful white asparagus (I should have asked the chef where he gets his exceptional vegetables), cooked to perfection and served with an additional ecstasy-inducer: hazelnut-butter hollandaise sauce.
One of the two house-made desserts sent me into another paroxysm of joy: the rhubarb tart. It had a perfect crust, with sweet gooey almond-paste inside contrasting beautifully with the tart – but not too tart – slightly cooked rhubarb on top. It was served with cardamom ice cream.
After that triumph, the soft-centered chocolate cake with popcorn ice cream seemed less than spectacular.
With its simple wooden furniture, comfy woven seats on the chairs, well-spaced tables, acoustic panels on the ceiling and absence of music (hooray!), Robert’s setting is eminently pleasant.
The service was friendly and attentive, with only two oddities, both perpetrated by the smiley waitress. First, she brought our wine to the table already opened, a no-no in French restaurants. Then, when we were leaving, I asked for change for a €20 bill, so we could leave her a tip (although I didn’t say that, of course). She handed me back €15, saying, “Is that right?” It was, but it wasn’t up to her to decide. And for all she knew, we may have been planning to leave her more.
Another little glitch was that the fancy Perceval 9.47 steak knives were not very sharp, making it difficult for my friend to cut her lamb. When she asked for a sharper one, hers came back to the table freshly sharpened by the chef himself.
Overall, Robert gets a rave review for a brilliant performance. Ace!