04/06/2011

Michelin For The Masses (Well Sort Of..)

I start with a glimpse of dessert, because where else could this narrative lead? Poor is the man who cannot appreciate his pudding. But let us start with unassuming beginnings...

L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon in Soho, London. One of the finest & most revered chefs around the world, Robuchon owns more Michelin stars than any other (26, internationally). He has published several cookbooks (of which I own one, such a great reference tome for the post-Delia generation), & seems to me to combine the talents & aesthetics of masters such as Heston Blumenthal with a more decently traditional, yet urbane, & almost humble decadence. L'Atelier is a great introduction to his style & cuisine without the extortionate price-tag: a 3-course meal, plus apperitif, sommelier-advised wine, bottled water, & service came to 42GBP per head - this is the lunch menu currently on offer.
To begin: almost-deep-fried, crispy toasts accompanied by a shrimp & egg based pate, dressed with watercress. The pate was light yet tasty, a wonderful start to awaken the tastebuds. At around this stage, the bread basket began to be circulated in an inviting but unobtrusive manner. Butter laced with salt crystals was absolutely divine, (seriously, I need to source some of that!) & it was tough not to give in to abandon, run away with the bread fairies & overindulge on bread & butter.
Next came the amuse-bouche. I didn't quite comprehend what this involved, only that it was a palate-cleanser, sweet, lemony, & went down a treat.
For my first (?) course I chose the egg cocotte topped with light wild mushroom cream. The egg was almost lightly poached, with an incredibly gooey, smooth centre, the white melting into the frothy, mushroom bubbles in which it bathed. The dish also surprised us with a hint of what seemed like a pea creme, plus a delicately soaked disc of toast.
Le Lapin. Braised rabbit in a rich, velvety sauce with a proud hint of prune. This isn't a gravy you might serve with a roast, but a more complex, intelligent & warm relish. I have eaten rabbit only once before, a few years back at a place off Wandsworth Common, & whilst not quite disappointed, found that the ratio of meat to bone was not worth picking through to savour each last morsel. Uneducated in the anatomy of le lapin, I was unsure which part of the bunny found its way on to my plate, yet there was little evidence of any bone ever having held its own amongst such a structure. So, it was just meat, but was it any good? Succulent, juicy, slightly pink. I'll render that question rhetorical...
A wine for each course, matched to our dinner choices. The Moscato with dessert was particularly pleasant.

I am completely incapable of making a snap decision, & when it comes to desserts, I um & ah like there's no tomorrow. A selection of traditional tarts seemed like it would cover all bases. Je ne regrette rien. Chocolate & cherry; coffee; cinammon; lemon; pistachio: a tart for all seasons (& then some). Whilst miniature in form, the density was intense: these desserts were not to be trifled with. The incredibly refreshing, clean & clear lemon tart was my second favourite, but top dibs go to the pistachio. A gelatine-based almond layer over a marzipan-lined biscuit crust, covered with a light green mousse, & then decorated with an adorable L'Atelier etched chocolate square. Perfection in a pudding.
Within the bustle of theatre-land, ticket touts, tourists & crowded cinema megaplexes, L'Atelier de Robuchon is a sanctuary: here we will sit, & eat, & experience. & so the see-saw tips: I type this as I snack on some toffee popcorn with almonds & pecans from M&S, sipping a sparkling rose from the local deli. How utterly declasse.


You can find out more by clicking here.




{all photos by me}

8 comments:

Annabel said...

yummm! ohh my god im so hungry.

pepperandchips.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

Well you've certainly tempted my appetite! When would you like to book a table for me - my birthday is in November so plenty of time to get a table!

Katie said...

Thanks lovelies!

Mum, i think i cracked the code & figured Anonymous is you :)

Katie x

Kathleen said...

aww your comment was thee sweetest, thank you girl :). and omgg, the food. is AMAZING. so gourmet and fresh. ah i gotta visit this place if i ever visit London! :)

<3, Kathleen.

Gigi said...

We share the same love in food! I had the pleasure of having the best dining experience of my life at Cyrus recently! http://www.cyrusrestaurant.com/

modernworkinggirl.blogspot.com

m i s s . t e a said...

ooh you have a lovely blog and your foodie pictures look like they were taken professionally!! xx misstea & co. (your newest follower) :)

Kaleido Mind said...

so mouth watering:D

Katie said...

thank you! i can't wait to go again!

Katie x

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