Review: L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon, Covent Garden, London

Four days, 10 Michelin stars – Part 2!

I first ate at Joel Robuchon around two years ago and vowed to return. The two Michelin starred restaurant is spread over three floors – operating two dining rooms and a bar/lounge.

We dined in ‘La Cuisine’ on our first visit – a beautifully appointed room on the first floor, decked out like the kitchen from your dreams, diners sit at traditional tables and have a clear view of the small finishing kitchen. This visit; however, saw us dining in ‘L’Atelier’ – a red and black japanese inspired wonder with a choice of counter or high table seating which backs on to an open kitchen full of busy craftsmen. We had a fantastic visit first time round so expectations were high.

Firstly, praise must be given to front of house. You are made to feel instantly welcome, as if dining in your local. Service is professional and attentive yet relaxed – the perfect balance. The sommelier is a character and offers some excellent recommendations.

In addition to the usual A La Carte and Tasting menus, we were offered a ‘Potato’ Tasting menu – showcasing the versatile tuber at the height of its season. Three opted for the traditional tasting, one for the potato. The food was, as expected, fantastic. A beautiful mix of classic preparations and modern flavour combinations with an asian influence. I truthfully struggled to find any fault – the food more than lived up to expectations. I could write all day about the beautiful food we ate so memorable dishes follow.

Lobster Salad, Artichokes, Citrus Vinaigrette

Scottish Lobster Salad, Artichokes and Citrus Vinaigrette was delightful. Perfectly cooked and seasoned lobster tail and braised artichokes. The citrus vinaigrette was very tart but did not overpower. Chicory helped offer texture. The lobster was not quite as well cooked as that at Alain Ducasse, but this is nit-picking.

Cherry Gazpacho, Ewes Milk Ice Cream, Pistachio

Cherry Gazpacho with Ewe’s Milk Ice Cream and Pistachio was a substitution course on the Potato Tasting Menu (one of our party has a poultry allergy). Decadently covered in gold leaf, the ewe’s milk ice cream was beautifully smooth and fresh, tempering the prevalent cherry flavour. A well-balanced and refreshing dish.

Sea bass, Lemongrass & Fondue Leeks

Sea bass, Lemongrass and Fondue Leeks was perhaps a little on the salty side for some – but perfect for me. Beautifully cooked fish which held up against the strong sauce.

Gnocchi with a Fricassée of Mushrooms

Another dish from the Potato Tasting Menu, Gnocchi with Fricassée of Mushrooms. Perhaps the lightest and most flavoursome gnocchi we had ever tasted. The fricassée not overpowering with a subtle aroma of wild mushrooms. The accompanying ‘tuile’ was so light it all but dissolved on the tongue.

Quail stuffed with Foie Gras, Truffle Potatoes

Free Range Quail Stuffed with Foie Gras and Truffle Mashed Potatoes was decadent. The quail perfectly cooked, remaining moist from the chunk of pink foie gras nestled in the centre. The truffle mash was strong with truffle. As the dish was so simple, these three flavours (with the help of a little jus) were matched to perfection, not one outshone the other and the quail was rightfully the star of the show.

Confit Veal Cheek, Spiced Thai Jus, Crunchy Vegetables

Saving the best until last – Confit Veal Cheek, Spiced Thai Jus, Crunchy Vegetables. Quite possibly the best plate of food I have ever had the good fortune of eating. The veal cheek was meltingly tender, but still retained its structure – real depth of flavour without overpowering, somewhere between pork shoulder and beef shin. The spiced thai jus was to die for – a big punch of chilli but with subtle undertones of lemongrass and ginger. The crunchy vegetables had been perfectly julienned and gave fantastic contrast against the soft veal. It is not possible to sum up in words how truly delicious this dish was.

Joel Robuchon was an amazing experience and I feel I will extol its virtues forever more! They have hit the nail on the head – perfect service matched with perfect food in wonderfully eclectic surroundings. Words cannot do the quality of food justice. It is refreshing to dine in a restaurant once every so often that raises your expectations of dining out and forces you to question food you have eaten in the past. I cannot recommend enough.

L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon

Food (For Four): £470

Dress Code: Smart Casual (Jackets not required for gentlemen)

Reservations: Essential

Recommend: Yes