John Gregory Smith revisited an old classic for an exquisite meal at L’ Atelier de Joel Robuchon
Cook up your own delicious comfort food with Jamie Oliver’s incredible Shepherd’s Pie.
I took my mum out for lunch a few weeks ago and we went to L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon. As a reviewer I’m always looking out for the latest restaurant, on trend truck or perfect pop and I love finding something new and seeing what’s happening in London! But sometimes it’s good to relax and revisit a classic that you know will be knock out, with no risk factor – just guaranteed good times.
The restaurant is in a magnificent old town house, just next door to the Ivy Club on West Street in Covent Garden. The ominous black building houses L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon on the ground floor, a cubed red and black lunch-box of a restaurant, the more refined La Cuisine de Joël Robuchon on the first floor and a lovely roof top bar above that.
We dined downstairs, taking a seat at the bar with a splendid glass of rose champagne to get us in the mood. Dark red and black, with a living wall (covered in plants not actually alive) and tall shiny tables, the restaurant is really naughties and ideal for power dining. It’s very cool, but for short people like me poses the problem of having to dangle your legs like a small child as you try and sell high priced shares to your fellow diners.
The meal kicked off with a shot of liquid parmesan and fois gras in a port reduction that should have come with the option to have as a pint, then went straight into a dainty confit potato, radish and smoked kipper salad with a hint of fresh thyme and chilli in a delicate dressing that was knock out.
Next a perfect poached egg, served on dark green watercress soup and a smoky slick of conte cheese. The yolk ran into the cheesy glory and enriched the fresh peppery flavour of the soup beautifully.
Fish followed in the form of a mighty scallop in the shell, with a scattering of lemongrass and espolette peppers and citrusy lemongrass foam. I am not a foam man, its like serving flavoured air and I find it odd. Not today, it worked beautifully with the juicy scallop adding a light flavour and texture to the dish.
We had wine pairing with our lunch and the booze flowed finer with each course, highlighting the flavours and overall experience. The final triumphant dish arrived, a ball of braised ox cheek wrapped in cabbage resting in a light miso and shitake broth. The rich, peppery meat had been shredded and fell into the salty broth, which seasoned it with unami perfection. It was modern and beautifully balanced and I loved it. ‘Naughty’ Mash came as a side. Described as the best thing here by our lovely waiter, it was more butter than mash; golden, rich and definitely worth of a clap or two.
L’Atelier De Joel Robuchon, 13-15 West St, London, WC2H 9NE
We ate a selection of dishes picked for us with wine paring, costing £80.74 each.
For more information visit joelrobuchon.co.uk