Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Lunch @ L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon

Last Thursday was time again to break out of Surrey for some fine dining and a good catch up with Saf.  Situated right on the edge of Covent Garden is L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon, a dark yet alluring looking restaurant, directly next door to The famous Ivy.  Eager as ever we arrived at the restaurant about 15 minutes before our table was booked only to find that the bar didn't open until 12, but we were received by the exceptionally friendly front of house who arranged for us to go up to the terrace slightly early.  I think she sensed my champagne clock ticking, and I don't think that she wanted me smoking on the pavement!  The bar and terrace are immaculately presented, a sensual theme of black and red runs through the entire 3 floors, it exudes opulence and sophistication with a mild but slightly intense sense of drama. Just how bars should be (oh and it stays open until 2am!)  We headed out to the terrace, sunglasses firmly on and enjoyed a glass of Veuve Cliquot and Berry Blast in the sunshine, in our own privacy.  When we had finished, we were taken down to our table in the restaurant, and what a great table we were sat at.  The dining room has a modern industrial yet dramatic feel in its decor but is comfortable and inviting as the kitchen is situated within the restaurant so diners have the privilege of watching all the staff at work, cooking and presenting the fabulous dishes.  Our table was directly opposite the kitchen area, so we were very well positioned for some, slightly less than cool, gawping!

The rather extensive menu was presented to us, along with another aperativo, and we began the enviable task of deciding what to sample.  We chose from the set menu, a difficult task as the different dishes available all sounded excellent, but I went for the Lobster salad, followed by Teryaki Salmon and Saf choose the soft poached egg with aubergine and shitake mushrooms, followed by the risotto.  Our amuse buches were then delivered, along with the bread basket, and the amazing meal began.  I was given a fois gras puree with port reduction and Saf had a lime and melon shot.  To be honest I didn't want that mini course to end, it was delicious, perfectly balanced and so rich but without being heavy.  Next came the starters, OK so my lobster came with a £7 supplement but I haven't had lobster in such a long time that I thought it was worth it, and I wasn't disappointed.  The meaty lobster was cooked beautifully and was perfectly complimented by the baby gem and vinaigrette.  I chose a Vouvray to accompany it which matched brilliantly, but again rather like Roux @ Landau, the absence of a Somellier was rather disappointing, but the wines by the glass list was so concise that it didn't really make an impact. Saf's only disappointment with my starter was that it was cold, and she doesn't really do cold food, and she def doesn't do salads!  Her starter was the poached egg and it was superb, both of us were grinning like proverbial Cheshire cats by the end of the course.  The presentation was immaculate, and so precise, I am always so impressed by the intricacies of this type of dining and the Chefs at L'Atelier were an inspiration. 

Amuse Bouche

Lobster Starter

Poached Egg, Aubergine & Mushroom
THE Fennel Mash


Teryaki Salmon

Next came our main courses, again exquisitely presented, and in addition we were given fennel mash with potato crisps compliments of the Chef.  OMG what an amazing dish that was in its own right, super smooth and tasty, with the additional crunch of the home made crisps!  Saf's favourite things are crisps so she was in her element.  When the waiter came over and asked us what we thought, our empty bowl and gushing response prompted him to bring us a second bowl - how lovely is that?  Our mains were excellent too, great flavours and my salmon was perfectly cooked, but if I had to be critical of anything it would be that my fish was, well, a little fishy.  But, that is hyper critical, I am just not a huge fan of fishy..but I am also really fussy.  For the first time in a long time I chose the (French) house white next, as the waiter recommended that it was crisp and dry and served very cold.  I have to say that it was very good.  Obviously a French chef isn't going to serve up any duff wine, but I usually steer clear of the house, still, at £8 a 175ml glass it is never going to be classified as cheap.

Once we had leisurely completed our mains, we chose to have our deserts and finish our drinks on the terrace.  The sun was streaming down on us by now and the atmosphere so relaxed it was great to sit and enjoy the rest of our afternoon in the tranquility above the busy London streets.  I opted for the cheese board, but actually couldn't really eat much of it as I was so full, and Saf had the filled choux pastry which looked (and tasted I am told) beautiful.  The staff were friendly and accommodating and the whole place ran calmly and smoothly, pretty incredible seeing as you dine beside the kitchen.  Our 3 courses were £35 and the wines ranged from £8 per glass skywards.  I did also try an English beer which was actually pretty good, despite my turning my nose up at the initial idea!

So, all together we had a great day, superb food and another wonderful experience, quite different to our previous lunches.  The staff weren't quite as attentive as we have previously experienced but overall Joel Robuchon exceeded our expectations, providing a decadent atmosphere with polish and finesse and the opportunity to relax and bask in the 2 Michelin starred perfection. 

La Cuisine within the dining room

What I wore;
Navy Dress - Next
Tan sandals - Zara
Blazer - Zara
Sunnies - Prada
Bag - Marc Jacobs Elise in cream
Gold Tiffany Heart necklace