Monday, 6 April 2009

L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon

Last week, I visited L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon to try out their extremely reasonable set lunch - 3 courses for £25, just like the one I had at Hibiscus. A friend of mine had spotted the offer, so we booked ourselves in and I hot-footed it down to Covent Garden.

Upon arrival, I was surprised by how dark it was. It was very much a black and red colour theme, and once I'd managed to hop rather ungracefully up onto the (red) bar stool I was also surprised to find that there was a definite theme of apples - a big bowl of apples sitting on fake ice cubes graced the bar, and a gigantic red apple sat just behind it. I wish I'd asked why. The bar was the best place to be sitting; a mere 2 or 3 metres away, the chefs were busy at work and you could happily spy on them.

As with most of these set lunches, the choice was limited. To start, I plumped for the 'Soft poached egg with braised celery, hazlenut and beetroot vinagrette'. The presentation was impressive and I must admit I wobbled the plate a couple of times to see if the egg would topple. It didn't. Cutting into the egg revealed a perfectly runny yolk, although it was rather on the cool side. The flavours were clean, smooth and simple, with each element being quite defined.

For my main, I went for the 'Hangar steak served with dauphinois potatoes, red wine and shallot sauce'. The hangar steak was good and beefy, cooked perfectly to medium rare. I'd have liked a thicker stack of potatoes, but on reflection, the dish was quite rich and I am quite greedy so it did turn out to be enough. The shallot sauce that adorned the steak was gorgeous; reduced down to a sweet yet savoury sticky goodness.

Just like at Hibiscus, dessert turned out to be my favourite course. I had originally told the waitress that we'd have just the one dessert to share, but she ignored me and two turned up instead. Naughty of her, but I'm quite glad because this chocolate and coffee finger was rather delicious. A coffee-soaked sponge nestled beneath the chocolate ganache, and the little silver balls gave a welcome change in texture. Accompanying vanilla ice cream was a good bland foil for the richness of the chocolate, though I felt the meringue perched atop of it to be rather redundant.

All in all, a good lunch but for £35 with a glass of wine and service, I do wonder if perhaps it's worth saving up that extra more (ok, a whole lot more) and going for the full whack to get the real experience of the restaurant. While the cooking was solid and the presentation was lovely, I didn't feel particularly wowed by any of the dishes, especially from a 2 Michelin starred establishment.

L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon

13-15 West Street,

London WC2H 9NE

Tel: 0207 010 8600


L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon on Urbanspoon

10 comments:

Andy Kocen said...

I've only been once, ate from the a la carte menu, and it was pretty average relative to the cost. There are lots of other places that I reckon are better value...

Hope you're well btw. I'm enjoying the blog!

A Girl Has To Eat said...

It's a shame you didn't think the food was worth it for a 2 star michelin restaurant. I think even on a limited price menu, the cooking should still hit that mark.

Su-Lin said...

Oooh, it's been on my hit list for a while, especially after this recession-influenced menu was introduced. Thanks for the review!

genuiness said...

Lizzie, I had a similar experience at L'Atelier - went with a group of friends in January just before the Michelin guide was released and we ordered from both the ALC and fix prix menu. From my experience the food is at best 1* and not even close to 2*. At least this time around they put more effort into your cheapo set lunch menu - I had a pathetic shredded duck with mash dish...

Helen said...

That black and red colour scheme sounds absolutely hideous. Like when young men have their first attempt at decorating a bachelor pad or something. And apples?! I see what you mean about the food too. I mean, it looks nice enough, nothing special though.

Dan said...

£35 - what a bargain, and nice to see your knocking off the classy restaurants whilst there are bargains to be had.
Got to say the starter presentation wise looks great, but the ingredients are about as cheap as it gets - so you can see where the cost is cut down there. But the hanger steak main, and the desert look much more like value for money.

Merlotti said...

Food looks great and I love the presentation. The steak and dauphinois would be my favourite I think. I shame it didn't hit the 2* mark.

Douglas Blyde said...

Am heading there for the last day of the offer next week (until that is the extend the offer). Really sharp photos, Lizzie. Will be comparing your reactions to some of those dishes. I'll tell them I booked it having seen this (and Eat's review)...

winesleuth said...

I'd say save up for the full whack, the sea bass was lovely and light and the crayfish soup we had was sooo tasty.Have it all with the Bruno Paillard champagne...

Krista said...

Did you use the ladies? Did you notice the pixie dust falling from the spotlight?

Interesting that they were still serving the poached egg when I went last Thursday!