How Joël Robuchon Identified A Truly Great Restaurant

Joël Robuchon is considered a legend in the culinary universe, with 20 restaurants and 31 Michelin stars under his belt (via Michelin Guide). He seemed to be a fan of short ingredient lists when cooking, which, as he stated in a separate Michelin Guide source, shows respect for produce. This was evidenced by one of his famous creations: purée de pomme, which consisted of potatoes, butter, milk, and salt. Though this sounds simple, his elegant "dot" presentation and minimalist plating made his food beloved by the masses via Eater. His restaurants currently span many countries, including Spain, China, Switzerland, and Morocco, per his official website, with more openings in the works.

But Robuchon was not just a master of cooking; he also knew a thing or two about dining in a restaurant. In other words, he knew what made a restaurant great. At first thought, the food may come to mind, but this is only part of the picture. So here are some of the criteria that Robuchon used to measure a restaurant's status.

An eye for details

Robuchon certainly saw the big picture when it came to dining in restaurants, but he also had an eye for details. As mentioned in Decanter, his focus would quickly shift to the tablecloths, looking for any wrinkles in them. He also noticed whether the restaurant had a pleasant aroma or an odor to it, mentioning that a restaurant should, of course, be appealing to one's nose.

Attentive service was also crucial to Robuchon, and a sense of passion and love that the chef (hopefully) poured into his work. Though he didn't mention what he notices in the food, he did state that steak frites is a telltale sign of how well a chef can cook (fun fact: it was also his favorite restaurant dish). This is because steak frites is a simple dish at its core, and Robuchon loved the idea of simplicity, as Decanter notes.

Robuchon implied, though, that the very best food isn't always found in a fancy restaurant. He told Insider one of his favorite food memories was pairing a bottle of Château d'Yquem 1987 with cheese on a mountain. "We were with friends, and people that we enjoy, with great cheese. And that certainly is marked as one of the great moments of my life. It may seem strange that one of my best memories is cheese and a bottle of wine, but it's built by the company that one chooses."