On Christmas Eve we treated ourselves to lunch at Michelin-starred restaurant, L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon in Covent Garden. We’ve been a few times over the years and throughly enjoy the classic, seasonal, French-inspired food.
Joël Robuchon has a number of restaurants around the world and has been awarded ‘Chef of the Century’ by the Gault Millau guide. If you’re a fan of Masterchef, the semi-finalists of Masterchef: The Professionals series 4 did a service at L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon back in December 2011 and that’s where we first heard about the restaurant. We then booked to go for Christmas Eve lunch and have returned around three times since. We’ve also enjoyed a meal at the one in Paris.
Upon entering, you feel as though you are in a decadent Japanese restaurant. There are red tables to seat two or four and then there’s a Japanese-style counter, where you get to see the chefs at work and is where we were seated. The room is sumptuous – all shiny red and black decor with a beautiful green, garden wall that gives the restaurant a feeling of tranquility and as if you’re in a Japanese garden. There are also lots of bowls filled with lemons, apples and oranges to add to the feeling of being in a garden.
We decided to start with three tapas-style dishes to share: the Iberian ham with tomato toasted bread, two little burgers with foie gras and burrata with tomato and avocado. Before the starters arrived, we had their signature amuse bouche, which is foie gras with a port reduction and a foam. It is amazing! I could’ve eaten five of them…
The starters were all very good, however the burgers absolutely stood out. The burger patty was beautifully pink and moist and the foie fras just added another dimension and it worked well with the brioche bun. There were also thin fries on the side, which were delightful. As we were sharing, they plated them up individually so that we ‘wouldn’t fight over them’. Good thing they did! The burrata salad was delicate, creamy and fresh and the Iberian ham with toasted tomato bread was very tasty. To drink, my husband opted for a glass of Rosé champagne whilst I had a Spanish white Rioja.
For mains I opted for the scallops with celeriac, black truffle fricassee and buckwheat tuile. My husband had the Le Saint Pierre, which was roasted John Dory fillet, squid ink risotto and shiso in tempura. They didn’t have any John Dory in so they substituted it for another meaty fish – cod. We were also served a side of mashed potato, which was sublime. On overhearing my husband say it was the best mashed potato he’d ever had, the lady sitting next to us said that if you mention the mashed potato loud enough, often the chef will add it to your main or serve you extra. Now, I’m not sure that’s true but I’m definitely trying it the next time we go!
Whilst we were waiting for our mains, the people next to us received their desserts. One was this chocolate dome that came with some sort of hot sauce and when the waiter poured it over the dessert, the dome melted to reveal ice-cream. It was so theatrical and just made you smile… I felt like I was in Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.
When it came to choosing a dessert to share, we both unanimously decided on the warm Guanaja chocolate soufflé with pistachio ice cream. It was amazing… light, melt-in-the-mouth and so chocolatey. It worked so well with the pistachio ice-cream too. Definitely one of the best soufflés I’ve ever had.
To round off the meal my husband ordered a macchiato and, like every fine dining restaurant, we were given some lovely petit fours. There were chocolates filled with salted caramel, pistachio financiers and a strawberry (or raspberry) marshmallow. Yummy!
What I really love about dining at L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon, apart from the wonderful food, is the ambience. Yes it may have a Michelin star but it’s not stuffy or pretentious in the slightest. The waiters are also really friendly and chatty and add to the experience. If you’re looking for something special, definitely give this restaurant a try.