Scores: 2 M*/ GFG 6/ Z 28/ H 3
On a rare trip to the theatre in the West End (despite living in London we rarely seem to find the time to actually see a show!) we decided to have dinner at L’Atelier Joel Robuchon before we went in to the performance. Given that I am not much of a theatre fan, this seemed like the best way to ensure that I would actually have something to look forward to that evening…
Joel Robuchon has created somewhat of a global luxury fine dining chain that, while not quite as large as Nobu (the McDs of fine dining), still has multiple locations in Europe, Asia and the US (RIP NYC). Previously, I have eaten in both the ground and first (la cuisine) floors of the London outpost as well as in the Paris Saint Germain location. In addition I have eaten in the full restaurant in Las Vegas, this has the honour of being the most expensive meal per head I have ever eaten in my life, and the only thing that made it even slightly palatable was that I was only picking up the bill for one (my other half is still fuming that she didn’t get to experience it!) The London location follows L’Atelier style with most of the seating set counter style around the open kitchen. This gives the restaurant a laid back atmosphere which is enhanced by the casual dress code.
The pre-theatre menu is excellent value at 2 courses for £29 / 3 for £35 / 4 for £40 in a restaurant where the 8 course tasting menu is £129 and where one can run up a very large bill by ordering aggressively from the small plates menu.
An amuse bouche of foie gras and parmesan foam with port wine was very tasty, with a sweetness complementing the richness of the foie gras. We added a small portion of Iberian’ ham (5J) served with toasted tomato bread (£20) which we ate while we looked at the menu. This was good quality ham although some of it was cut slightly too thick, there was also probably a bit too much tomato on the bread.
The starters and mains were a tale of two orders. Although we shared a good bit of them, my girlfriend ordered the green beans salad with wasabi dressing, button mushrooms and foie gras shavings. This was a good dish but was not that refined or exciting, an additional problem was that the green beans and foie gras dish from The Ledbury was still on our minds (LINK). A dish of a duo of crab meat and avocado with tomatoes & sherry vinegar coulis was quite pretty and very good; the sauce which was basically a gazpacho, added additional sweetness to the crab as well as a tiny bit of spice. A main of seared Maine lobster, baby spinach and Malabar pepper sauce (supplement of £7) contained a few good sized lumps of lobster and was a very tasty, refined dish. A fillet of sea bream with courgettes & basil marmalade and black olive jus was also very nice but I would say just a little too basic, both in terms of presentation and taste, for this level of restaurant.
On this occasion I would give this restaurant 3 stars, although two dishes were definitely above this level. However, for a pre-theatre dinner it was extremely good value and served in good time so that we were able to eat without feeling too rushed or worried about getting to the theatre late. I had the tasting menu here about a year ago and I remember that meal to be probably around the 4 star level.