Last month I was surprised. My good friend Kathryn said she was taking me out for dinner and drinks for my birthday present, what she didn't tell me at the time was where. I was due to go on a copywriting course in London at the end of March so we decided to combine business with pleasure in one trip. A few days before Kat told me there was a dress code for the restaurant we were visiting, basically be smart. Finally the name of the restaurant was revealed as L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon, which is in central London very near The Ivy. There are a dozen of these L'Atelier restaurants dotted around the globe, Paris, Tokyo, New York and so on and they have collected up 25 Michelin stars between them all with a reputation for theatre and precision, according to their website.
So I was pretty excited, to say the least. Dressed in my best, which is a bouncy floral Ted Baker skirt, I hurried off my train to meet Kat at the restaurant. Jay Rayner once described the decor "like being locked in a PVC fetishist's knicker drawer" I know what he means with all the heavy curtains, accents of red, shiny black surfaces and no daylight but I guess that is all part of the theatre. L'Atelier do a set lunch (12-3) and early evening menu from 5.30 if you order before 6.15. The prices start at £31 for two courses or £45 with matching wines. We decided to go with the full four course set menu with wines, and Kat had very kindly already ordered a glass of champagne to greet me, well we were celebrating.
|watching the chefs work|
We ordered our chosen selections from the three choices for each savoury course; cold starter, hot starter and main and were left with the excited feeling of being brought something extra special. I decided for my courses to pick lentil salad with foie gras shavings and smoked duck breast followed by shitake in a chicken broth with fresh herbs and finally braised beef cheek cannelloni with seasonal vegetables. But before all that we were brought an amuse bouche which was all foam and foie gras mousse but still very delicious and with the champagne felt very decadent indeed.
|lentil salad with foie gras|
|beef cheek cannelloni|
|Dreamy sculpted Mash|
Everything I ate was divine. Lots of textures and flavours working together in perfect tasting harmony. Plus all of the wines I had paired with my dishes were excellent. My favourite things were the lentil salad, so much flavour and richness from these little pulses, the mash, hands down the best mash of my life, the man even brought me a second bowl when I cleared up the first one. The mash was buttery and velvety smooth and there was comfort in every bite, although technically I didn't even need to chew. And the Paris-Brest dessert, perfect choux pastry filled with the lightest praline cream one of the best desserts I've had in a long time.
They even brought over a birthday plate with caramel chocolates, pistachio cakes and yuzu flavoured marshmallows, which tasted very gin and tonic like. Basically if you fancy a treat then definitely try and check out the lunchtime/early evening set menu at L'Atelier if you find yourself in London and fancy a treat. I definitely want to head back for a special occasion again soon. To drool over the menus head over to the restaurant's website
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