I apologise for it being blogger-perk frenzy round here at the moment. I’ve had a good run lately! The latest was the chance to try the tasting menu with matching wine selection at Michelin-starred restaurant L’Atelier Joel Robuchon, on the borders of Covent Garden and Soho, where a new executive chef (Xavier Boyer) and pastry chef (Francois Delaire) have just been appointed.
We started by going up the first floor for a delicious cocktail in the plushy bar. There’s a lovely terrace which on this warm evening was full.
Downstairs, we were seated at the central bar with a view directly into the working kitchen. Quite uniquely for a Michelin restaurant, the food is informally served by the bar staff/waiters, as was the wine for each course. I really liked this less stuffy approach and our waiters were relaxed and funny – a nice change from formal fine dining.
In what must be a first, L’Atelier Joel Robuchon is a Michelin-starred French restaurant with a vegetarian tasting menu. Gosh, I do love the treat of seeing a list of delicious-sounding food where I can eat all of it!
Each course was beautifully dainty and almost too pretty to eat. It was a real ode to the humble and lovely vegetable, whether a mushroom whipped into a silky veloute or an heirloom tomato simply dressed and served zingily red in a martini glass with pickles and flowers.
Asparagus with comte; a beautiful girolle and truffle risotto; crisped glazed tofu with wild mushrooms. It was all perfectly pitched and a delight to eat. Unlike some tasting menus, the pacing and portion size were spot on: it never felt like an onslaught and I didn’t feel uncomfortably full at the end.
Josh went for the omnivore tasting menu; he declared the ox cheek gyoza to be a particular standout dish. Personally I loved the blingy gold toast rack and gilt leaf on the caviar and salmon starter.
As a special side we were given some of the infamous Robuchon pommes puree, made with 50% butter to 50% potato. Jeez, I could feel my arteries furring up as I ate it but it is just so good I didn’t care.
The dainty portions meant we had space for dessert, hurrah. Josh’s was a beautiful physics-defying orb of shiny gold, with a delicate citrus mousse inside.
I had an equally gorgeous concoction; light as air milk chocolate mousse with bitter dark chocolate sorbet and Oreo crumbs.
Each course was matched with the sommelier’s selection of wine, and wow – they were all utterly amazing. I don’t know much about wine at all, but I loved how our choices featured some really unusual ones with tasting notes like smoke, mushroom, cellar, and minerals. Even the dessert wine which I don’t usually drink was a sweet, light red that was perfect with the chocolate.
This was one of the most enjoyable fine dining experiences I’ve had; partly for the superb food and partly for the unique relaxed ambiance and friendly service. For a special occasion meal I would certainly go back.
I was a guest of L’Atelier Joel Robuchon for my dinner; views my own.