Last week Marc treated me to two Michelin stars for our two year anniversary, at L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon. Looking forward to three already ;-)
Going into the restaurant feels like going into an upmarket nightclub - it's all dark wood and moody lighting. The staff, also dressed in black, almost blend into the walls.
One of the things I like best about L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon is the open plan kitchen. You can gawk at the chefs all the way through your meal. But this is no kitchen nightmare. You won't witness any effing and blinding here. The kitchen is astonishingly calm and serene. Amazing to watch each chef so completely focused on their part of the jigsaw.
The menu contains a page of 'small dishes', as well as a more traditional a la carte and the tasting menu. We went for three small dishes to share, as starters and then a main each. (Be warned though, small dishes do not mean small prices - these range from £11 - £19)
My favourite thing about fine dining is all the little surprises and treats that don't appear on the menu. At Joel Robuchon we started with a plate of wafer thin flat bread, unsalted butter and a really flavoursome olive oil. I think it would have been nice to have a more inventive canape, as this was closely followed by the bread basket. Our amuse bouche was an interesting zingy, tart lemon jelly topped with artichoke foam - definitely woke the palate up!
Of the small dishes, the razor clams with shallot butter and parsley arrived first. These were beautifully presented on piles of rock salt and were tender and sweet. Just a shame there was just the one clam! (I made a similar razor clam recipe a few weeks ago).
We had a little problem with the langoustine ravioli, which unfortunately arrived topped with a creepy crawlie bug. To be fair, it was whipped away pretty sharpish and replaced but it did put me off that course.
Marc was delighted with his seared foie gras. Normally served cold, this brought out the flavours in a totally different way.
The lobster was the star of show though. Unusually, it had been removed from its shell - and with some considerable skill, as all the meat was intact. The lobster was perfectly cooked, sweet and juicy, served with summer vegetables. Main courses were served with a mini pan of mashed potato, which must've been at least 50% cream but oh so delicious for it.
Too full for a cheese course, we ordered puds. The menu recommended a dessert wine for each of the puddings, which I thought was a nice touch.
Before the desserts arrived, we were treated to a star shaped ice lolly - apricot ice cream, coated in white chocolate with popping candy. Loved, loved, loved this.
My chocolate pud (Manjari chocolate, white chocolate ice cream and Oreo cookie crumbs) was beautifully presented but, tastewise, nothing to write home about. Marc's pudding was a bit more interesting: honey and rosemary panna cotta, melon pearls and sorbet, crunchy meringue. I can confirm that both went very well with their matching dessert wines!
The 'happy anniversary' plate was a lovely gesture - a little taste of rather nice lemon tart.
The finishing touch was a plate of petit fours to select from. The salted caramel chocolates were divine.
A meal at L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon is a real experience and I'd highly recommend it for a special occasion.