Bar stool and counter dining within customary 'Robuchon' dimly lit and stylish design serving food from the kitchen within the bar area in front of diners
Whilst walking through West Street in order to get last orders by Embankment we passed L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon and the idea of walking passed and not going inside for anything as the opportunity was there just seemed ridiculous(!). To that end, we entered in the name of food research to see what the current amuse bouche was and purely for a portion of the equally fabled truffle mash. The staff were very understanding to this snap requirement, particularly in our spirited state and the bar upstairs was the perfect holding area for two, lone idiots with this insatiable need.
My two previous write ups to here will be a far better indication of the variety of food from numerous visits including a bespoke tasting menu and this visit was purely to buy the truffle mash and try their amuse bouche over glasses of wine. The fact that entry was asked for purely for those two items alone I think speaks for itself and the revised iberico croquette amuse bouche was a totally smooth thing of beauty (such delicate casing), as was the truffled mash….then again, I knew this was going to be the case with the latter. Still the best mash I have ever had and the revised amuse bouche is absolutely on the money which was good to see in lieu of the iconic shot glass of creamed foie gras with ruby port gel and parmesan foam now being replaced by a worthy contestant.
Food Grade: 85%
I have been to this restaurant more times than I can remember between 2010 and 2013 and has always been a safe bet for me on virtually any occasion I can think of and which will also explain the length of this review. It was the closest Michelin starred venue for me when I worked at Whitehall and their set menu at lunch is always a belter and was even more so to be a 2 Michelin starred option of three courses at £33 including a frankly amazing amuse bouche each time. The amuse bouche is worth a mention in itself as I still think is the best one in any establishment in London as the foie gras cream in a shot glass with thin layer of port jelly and parmesan foam. It is served with a tiny spoon and watching me eat this probably wouldn’t be too dissimilar in watching a dog trying to get every last bit of the marrow from a bone.
The dishes here have always been incredibly stylish and there is no question that they are sumptuous and clever at the same time. The only draw back being that each dish is practically like a starter and smaller in some cases so although the prices look relatively doable (anywhere between £8 and £20 each roughly) you actually need a minimum of four dishes to be truly full for the average person especially over a longer period of time, and with wines the bill will, I guarantee, start to toot up.
I have found the best way to maximise the value for money is go at lunch, get the set menu with tap water and do not be seduced by their wares on wine (as one would be working that’s easy anyway as not really the done thing to drink during work time unless on a ‘smoker’ occasion) and sticking to that will produce a wonderful menu for a very reasonable amount in terms of London. Self-discipline is required at this venue in order to keep it thus!
Overall, this place is a wonderful option for set menu lunch, pre-theatre set menus and also works with the optional restaurant area in the upper level for a full blown tasting menu but there is nothing stopping you having this at the bar or at one of the surrounding bar tables. It is always fun to feel so intimately close with the chefs at this place as you can see everything they do to prepare your lovely dish; the highlights of which remain for me the mini foie gras burgers and the quail with truffle mash (perhaps the creamiest and loveliest mashed potato in the world).
Just a shame they have lost a star demoting them to one and I have absolutely no idea of the logic with Michelin as it appears to be exactly the same as it was but it will not deter me in going at anytime remains a very fun option for people to do. I have placed this in the ‘view’ category as well, not because of the outside (it could not be more away from natural light and outside views if it tried) but becuase of the unique view of the chefs in the kitchen preparing all your dishes for you in front of your eyes – a fun and original concept.
Food Grade: 86%
This particular evening meal remains the most gluttonous and excessive affair I have ever had on record. As I said there have ben numerous follow up visits but this was a special occasion as the amount of lunches I have had here, they actually offered to cater for the actual favourites on tasting menu if I gave enough notice and was happy to cover any subsidies; this of course I viewed as the biggest no brainer of all time irrespective of cost and proceeded to construct a personally individualised menu for both myself and a different one for Mr Bainbridge, also in attendance.
5 of my 10 courses had foie gras (a rather hefty sur-charge came with this) and I also gave enough notice for them to do a steak with sauce béarnaise and sauce choron (béarnaise but with tomato puree and other little extra spices) which was probably one of the biggest food highlights of all time – those two sauces at 2 Michelin starred level, PURELY for me and one of my death-row meals to celebrate my Birthday. And it did not disappoint! Among the best versions of that dish I have ever had and all other dishes were sublime. My only criticism was the portion sizes were not catered for the menu and were far too big resulting in nearly exploding at the half way point and an actual ressess needed to make the meal medically tenable. A wonderful meal and one I will not forget.
Food Grade: 89%
Location (Click google logo for directions)