Posted on Monday, 17th September 2012
Potato Week will soon be upon us (1st – 7th October 2012), and to celebrate the versatility of the humble spud, the people at Many Faces of Potatoes and the two Michelin starred L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon have come together to create the world’s first ever Michelin-starred potato tasting-menu which will be served during this celebratory week at L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon. Executive chef Olivier Limousin, a protégée of Joël Robuchon, created the menu and was on hand to cook during the preview of this dinner that I attended recently. An eight-course menu with matching wines, it is priced at £152.
The décor at L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon is decidedly black and sexy. There is a choice of counter seating around the open plan kitchen on the ground floor and table seating on the first floor. Furthermore, there is a lovely bar and terrace area upstairs, which is where we enjoyed a welcoming potato gin cocktail topped with fried potato skin before dinner.
To get us on our way, we nibbled on a lovely potato blini amuse bouche with cavaiar, smoked salmon, quail’s egg and a chive garnish. The blini was light and fluffy, and the perfect matching of ingredients and flavours proved to be delicious.
The first course was a truffle marinated (Charlotte) potato salad. Light and subtle, it came with fresh ingredients such as mushrooms, rocket and radish. The matching wine was a 2010 Macon Loche Domaine Cordier, Burgundy, which was crispy and fine.
“Vichyssoise” (Desiree), a potato and leek soup, resembled a dreamy purée rather than just a simple soup. It was finished with croutons, an assorted potato garnish, and some smoked haddock that set this dish alight with its intense flavour. The matching wine was a 2009 Vins de pays de l’Hérault, Mas de Daumas-Gassac, Languedoc, which proved to be fruity and full-bodied.
(King Edward) potato gnocchi was airy and light, and came with a fricassee of mushrooms, fava beans and an aromatic parsley emulsion. A 2010 Ovilos, Bibla Chora, Pangeon, Greece, was fresh and fruity.
Iberico pork braised with Grenach wine for five hours was tender and tasty. It came with a crunchy buckwheat tuile and a beautifully made (Desiree) potato purée that was a divine with its intense buttery overtones. A rustic and tasty, yet conceptually simple dish, it perhaps didn’t quite have the flourish one would expect in a main from a two-starred Michelin restaurant. A 2005 Crianza Boedgas Resalte de peñafiel Ribera del Duero, Spain, was full bodied with a toasty finish.
A pre-dessert of deep-fried puff pastry crisps filled with an almond, (Maris Peer) potato and vanilla crème anglaise burst through with a runny decadence as you bit into it. This pre-dessert was delightfully surprising.
Caramelised picolini (made from Maris Piper potato) in brown sugar and Grand Marnier was served with a citrus custard and a mandarin sorbet. The picolini could have been crispier and its lack of crispiness was most probably due to the use of the custard that had been drizzled at the table. Although decent, this pudding but did not produce the wow factor. A 2009 ‘Straw Wine’ de Trafford Stellenbosch, so named as the grapes had been dried on the straw, was matched with the dessert.
To finish was a selection of petit fours including a blueberry financier, a raspberry macaroon, and a potato and pine nut biscuit.
This was a lovely meal that did well to demonstrate the versatility of the potato and its many uses. I would have preferred slightly more ‘wow’ touches from a two-starred Michelin main course. Nevertheless, there were some fantastic moments with the most impressive being the vichyssoise and the pastry crisps which I could have eaten over and over again.
Food rating: 4/5
Price: The potato menu is £152. Excludes drinks and service.