Posted on Saturday, 22nd November 2014
L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon is a name that needs little introduction with the spectacular French dishes created by masterchef Joël Robuchon winning hearts the world over. Joël Robuchon is the most Michelin starred chef of all time and holds no less than 25 Michelin stars across his nine restaurants around the world. The London L’Atelier, a one Michelin star restaurant, can be found on West Street in the West End and upholds the sleek black and red look that is the hallmark of an L’Atelier restaurant.
There are several levels to the restaurant. On the ground floor is a stunning Japanese-inspired counter with bar seating where diners can watch the chefs go about creating their works of art in the open kitchen. On the first floor is the restaurant area that hosts a more traditional seating arrangement with well-spaced tables, and on the second floor is the bar and terrace that serves an impressive array of cocktails and spirits.
The head Chef is Xavier Boyer who has worked with Joël Robuchon for 13 years and previously led the kitchens at the L’Ateliers in both New York and Taipei. Xavier was involved in the 2006 launch of the London L’Atelier, so this is a home coming of sorts for him. I recently got to try Boyer’s cooking when he was the chef-in-residence during the 10 days of the London in the Sky pop-up and his food was absolutely delicious.
The amuse bouche was a royale of foie gras with white truffle, port reduction and a parmesan foam. This was a gorgeous combination, with the unctuous rich flavour of foie gras pairing beautifully with the deep sweetness of the port. The use of nutty overtones of the parmesan was also a lovely contrast to the foie gras as well.
The menu at L’Atelier is very much designed for sharing, and so we shared a variety of dishes, starting with a soft poached egg with white truffle (£49). A beautifully cooked egg sat inside a brilliantly crispy kadaif pastry, and when you cut into it, it revealed a runny egg with a vibrant yellow yolk. The combination of the light crunchiness of the pastry with the softness of the egg made for a delightful combination, especially with the intoxicating aroma of the truffle.
Pan seared duck foie gras oozed with the lovely fatty richness that makes this such a great thing of beauty. It was perfectly cooked, and alongside the foie gras was some caramelised fig which worked wonderfully with the foie gras.
Roasted Scottish lobster (£49) was sweet with a firm texture, and accompanied by some young spinach leaves, peppers, a pepper sauce and an aromatic bay leaf cream emulsion, both of which provided an interesting contrast to the lobster. This was a really nice dish, although the spinach itself, cooked with a wasabi dressing, was a little peppery.
We enjoyed the gyoza of braised veal shank with harissa (£21) as it was a pleasant dish. The filling of veal shank was tender and tasty, and the use of harissa provided a touch of spice to the gyoza. Also on the plate were some beautifully cooked mushrooms, sweet tomatoes and some rich teriyaki sauce that brought all the flavours of the plate together nicely. It was a really nice plate of food, but conceptually this dish didn’t quite have the sophistication as the other dishes. For me, this was just gyoza.
Free range quail stuffed with foie gras (£34) and served with mashed potatoes was a delight to eat. The quail was beautifully cooked and wonderfully tasty with a velvety smooth foie gras stuffing and a soy honey glaze. The creamy, buttery mash is an L’Atelier signature and was a little taste of heaven. It was a beautiful plate of food that included a small fresh herb salad garnish.
All the desserts were extremely well executed, prettily presented and delicious to eat. A strawberry mousse (£12) was lovely and accompanied by a light and zingy lemon sorbet and fresh strawberries. A lemon tart (£12) was zingy and nicely tart. It sat perched on a very thick (perhaps too thick) buttery biscuit base and was served with some lovely pieces of meringue. Finally a beautifully made chocolate macaroon (£12) filled with thick chocolate ganache was good and decadent and rich.
It is virtually impossible not to enjoy a meal at L’Atelier. Time and time again they produce exquisite dishes that sing with finesse, elegance and a refined touch. The presentation is beautifully done, the staff are knowledgeable and attentive, and every time you go you can be assured of a fantastic fine dining experience.
Food rating: 4.25/5
Service rating: 4/5
Lunch and pre-theatre menus range from £31 to £41.
Three courses from the a la carte menu range from £56 to £122 (excluding the caviar).
The truffle tasting menu is £230.
Small tasting plates range from £19 to £49.
There is also a bar menu.
Prices excludes drinks and service.