On the fourth floor of the Landmark shopping mall is the Hong Kong branch of the Atelier Robuchon chain, which started in Paris but now stretches from Monaco to Macau. This branch opened in 2006 and for a time had a heavyweight head chef in the form of Michel del Burgo, who trained with Michel Guerard and was chef de cuisine at both The Bristol from 1994 to 1999 and then at Taillevent in Paris from 2001 to 2002 before moving on to other establishments including Bastide de Gordes in Provence, Chanteclerc in Nice in 2004, and (briefly) Chez La Vielle Adrienne and l'Orangerie in Paris. As you might detect from this long string of jobs, he is not noted for hanging around long in one kitchen, and by the time I visited in July 2012 he had already left (in February 2012, to Spondi in Athens), to be replaced by Olivier Elzer, who had worked at Atelier since August 2010 and had previously cooked at Pierre in Hong Kong, and prior to that at l'Abbaye de la Bussiere in Burgundy.
The Atelier Robuchon branches all have the same signature red and black decor, with counter seats arrayed around an open kitchen. This branch has additional table seating, and a choice of a la carte, three course lunch menu at HK$540 or full tasting menu at HK$1,890. The wine list is vast, with 3,200 wines, and had plenty of depth in Bordeaux and Burgundy. Outside that its coverage was eccentric, with eleven pages of German dessert wines, but just three wines from Alsace in total, and just four white wines from Italy. The cheapest wine I spotted cost HK$650, and there were very few wines below HK$1,000. We drank Domaine Weinbach 2006 Pinot Gris at HK$1,000 for a wine that you can buy in a shop for around HK$290. Exampel wines were Leflaive Grand Cru Chevalier Puligny Montrachet 2000 at HK$6,000 for a wine that costs HK$3,627 to buy in a shop, and prestige wines like Leroy Richebourg 1990 at HK$40,000 for a wine that costs HK$26,360 to purchase retail. The text at the beginning of the list states that the wines have just a small mark-up above their purchase cost: I leave it from these examples for you to judge how accurate that statement really is.
A selection of bread is made on the premises, and was very good. A lovely brioche had excellent texture, as did a mini-croissant, while a mini-baguette was also good (between 17/20 and 18/20 for the bread). A pair of amuse-bouches arrived in a pair of shot glasses: king crab meat in lobster jelly had a well-made jelly, but I thought that the lobster flavour obscured the delicate crab (15/20), but coco bean soup with onion espuma was genuinely good, the flavours really coming through and working surprisingly well together (17/20).
Haricot bean salad with foie gras rolls and Parmesan was prettily presented but was hardly anything to get excited over, pleasant beans, the foie gras nice but nothing more than pleasant (15/20). Duck with compote of apricot and fresh almonds had accurately cooked, nice quality duck, and the fruit gave some acidity to balance the richness of the duck, but again this was merely a reasonable, capably cooked dish (16/20).
The best part of the meal was dessert. We went off the set menu at this point and tried the dessert trolley. We were allowed three small choices each (at these prices such an arbitrary restriction seems to me distinctly mean, and certainly never happened at Robuchon's original Jamin) but the pastry section certainly delivered some good dishes. There was a very nice opera cake, a good raspberry tart, but the best desserts were an excellent one of mango and exotic fruits, and a lovely rum baba, with gorgeous texture (the desserts we tried ranged from 17/20 to 18/20). Coffee was good, and although service was generally capable this brought one of a couple of service slips. Given that coffee cost HK$560 I had assumed that there would be petit fours, but none appeared. Only when we finished our coffee and inquired about this were a small plate of petit fours (including some very good madeleines) sheepishly brought. Topping up was not entirely faultless either, which is hardly the end of the world but should not happen at a restaurant of this calibre and price.
The bill came to HK$1,315 (£108) each for lunch, with a glass of house champagne each and a bottle of one of the cheapest wines on the list between three of us. It would easily be possible spend much more, for example if you went a la carte or ventured above the lower reaches of the wine list. As usual with an Atelier Robuchon, you get a very capably executed meal, with in this case particularly good pastry. But three Michelin stars? Not even close. Just across the bay in Macau is Robuchon Galera, a three star restaurant worth its accolade, and an incomparably superior restaurant to this. It is hardly Atelier Robuchon's fault that Michelin Hong Kong has been wildly generous, but such assessments devalue its credibility. A three star rating should mean something truly remarkable, worth a special journey, not merely a very good restaurant in its category.