It’s been a while…. I know… We’ve been very busy, but what’s important is we’re back and ending the year on a high, or at the very least with a large bill.
Luckily, due to unforeseen circumstances, the opportunity arose to have a big blow out. We decided to pay a visit to one of London’s two-Michelin-starred restaurants, L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon, in Covent Garden. Naturally, when visiting a restaurant of this billing, you’d be forgiven for getting excited, having big expectations and wanting to try absolutely everything on the menu. Bearing this in mind, we decided to go hell for leather and go for the £129 10 course taster menu, to try and get a good cross section of what was on offer (although I was tempted by the £49 poached egg starter from the ‘a la carte’ menu).
Within minutes of ordering, the first course had arrived. “Good evening gentlemen, here is your first course, an old classic, bread!” Announced the waiter, in complete seriousness. We couldn’t help but burst out laughing.
The ‘real’ menu started off with an ‘amuse bouche’ – a foie gras cappuccino, neatly assembled like a layered shot, with a foie gras custard, a port reduction and a parmesan foam. If I’m honest, this was a little odd, maybe even borderline unpleasant but we kept our faith and powered through with hopes of great reward. Next up was shredded Devonshire crab topped with a lobster jelly and black caviar, which had a nice balance between sweet and salty flavours and a melt-in-your-mouth texture. This was followed by a lobster, artichoke and apple salad with pearls of carrot, avocado and celeriac in a zingy dressing, also very pleasant.
The subsequent section of the menu moved towards hot dishes, starting with an perfectly cooked quails egg with Serrano ham and shitake mushrooms on a bed of puréed aubergine (see right). I even feel quite poncey listing out the ingredients! Post-egg came ‘Le Black Cod’ (very French sounding), which was arguably my favourite dish on the menu. Delicate cod topped with the meaty taste of miso, served with Japanese daikon mousse. Throw in a bit of edible gold leaf and there you have a Michelin star.
Six dishes down, two were left to wrap up the savouries, starting with pan fried foie gras on top of something I’m sure tasted like potpourri cooked in my orange shower gel, bleurgh. The main course was much better. Quail, leg and breast, stuffed with foie gras (I know… they love that stuff, don’t they?), and served with truffle mash, sticky honey and soy glaze and a ‘herb salad’. The bread-waiter then turned up with a bowl of mash, “compliments of the chef” he acclaimed, although we noticed that the chef complimented everyone with ‘free mash’. Nevertheless, it was really something and I couldn’t resist breaking etiquette by picking up the leg with my fingers and prying away the meat with my lips.
We opted for port and cheese course as a transition to pre-desert, a mandarin sorbet lolly, covered in white chocolate and popping candy, which was extremely refreshing. Finally to finish of the menu a rich chocolate mousse with chocolate ice cream, crumbled Oreos and chocolate covered rice crispy balls, and of course, a bit more gold leaf. Just as a little added extra dazzle, by the time we had finished eating, a very loud Paloma Faith had sat down at the table opposite us.
Overall, the food was good. I’m sure from a technical and visual perspective it was amazing. I just don’t see where the two stars come from, especially in comparison to the way some restaurants, like Roka or The Square, can assault your mouth with flavour. Amongst all the fancy tricks, there is still more for the palate to desire. It’s like food porn vs. food sex. Don’t get me wrong, porn is good… it’s just not sex.
6.5 out of 10