No other chef on the planet had won more Michelin stars than Joel Robuchon, who, before he passed last month, claimed 32. Most of these come from Les Ateliers. Inspired by the sushi counters of Japan and the tapas bars of Spain, Robuchon wanted to serve nouveau cuisine from an open plan kitchen, with chefs presenting and explaining the food and wine from the other side of a surface. Following the simultaneous launch of L’Atelier in Paris and Tokyo in 2003, Robuchon opened London’s branch in 2006 in Covent Garden. Twelve years later, it has sister sites on all corners of the world, from Macao to Monaco, Singapore to Shanghai. But our favourite remains the wonder on West Street.
Designed by Pierre-Yves Rochon, the man behind The Savoy, L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon makes an immense statement in black and red. Upon entering the ground floor, you can’t fail to notice the angular bar dominating the room, the living wall of greenery, the high tables for larger parties and, above all, the convivial atmosphere fostered by the staff. This is the essence of Robuchon’s concept.
During our meal we were lucky enough to sample the majority of the menu. Unmissable selections include the marinated octopus with chickpea and cumin puree; the beetroot tartare with a whole grain mustard sorbet and fresh herbs; as well as the Basque ham croquettes with pimientos de la Vera. The mash at JR is world-renowned and our favourite main dish by far was the caramelised quail stuffed with foie gras and served with truffled mashed potatoes. Desserts were exceptional – particularly the lemon cheesecake with limoncello and a Greek yoghurt sorbet and the creamy Manjari chocolate mousse with cookie crumb.
We, like the rest of the culinary world, were very sad to see Joel Robuchon pass on, but we can rest assured that his culinary legacy lives on in London’s West Street.
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