Review: Truly Experiences Lunch at l’Atelier de Joel Robuchon:
When I was approached by Truly Experiences and asked to review their service I hesitated a bit. They offered to send me a voucher for ‘something’ and then I’d go along and report back on how it went. What might the ‘something’ be? bungee jumping is SO not me and I never had any yearnings for a fish pedicure or to have a go at paintballing.
I stopped hesitating once I took a look at their site because Truly Experiences only offers a very carefully selected range of experiences to please even the pickiest recipient. You can pick from michelin starred tasting menus, city breaks and really rather special spa experiences. And, there wasn’t anything I would have been unhappy with on the list. I can see how it would take some of the pain out of finding a gift for ‘someone who has everything’ or even ‘someone who has almost everything’ because it’s a beautifully curated list of unusual gifts and experiences. All of which have a luxurious theme in common.
As it happens, what I was sent, in a rather beautiful black ribboned gift box, printed on heavy cream cartridge paper was a voucher for lunch for two at l’Atelier de Joel Robuchon in London. Delicious! I know because I have eaten there before that the food is really very good. And since last time I went there it was to experience a special potato tasting menu (yes really), I was quite keen to go back and try the real thing.
It took me a while for me to find a suitable date, but eventually I did phone up to book my table. The concierge at Truly Experiences was charming and took my booking. The system didn’t quite work because I didn’t get the promised confirmation e-mail, but whether that is a problem with the system or with my own mail I couldn’t say. In any case, I phoned back myself to confirm and was told that everything was nicely organised. And I turned up to the restaurant with my voucher – which proved, as promised, to be quite unnecessary. Just as if I’d booked myself – or had a rather special PA to do the work for me – everything was in order.
The lunch menu offers ranges from two courses without wine at £29 up to four courses with wine at £59, reasonable value for michelin quality food. And the matched wines, which my dining companion ordered, were all very good. There’s a complimentary amuse bouche too, we were served a rich base of foie gras with a slim layer of port reduction topped with a parmesan foam.
I chose the duo of crab meat and avocado with tomatoes and sherry vinegar coulis for my starter.
It looked pretty enough without the tomato coulis – but really rather stunning with. A good balance of flavours, the parmesan crisps added a welcome bit of extra texture
My dining companion’s egg dish was perfectly presented and perfectly cooked with a runny yolk hidden by layers of Iberian ham
Throughout the meal we did enjoy the spectacle of watching our dishes being constructed by the chefs behind the counter. It made the whole experience very personal and intimate. ‘La Broche du Jour’ turned out to be spit roast chicken. I was curious to see what could be done with a relatively simple dish.
The answer was a beautifully cooked portion of chicken that was so good I ate the skin, served with tiny cherry tomatoes, a little thyme and some pureed potato. We were given a large extra portion of potato along with a dish of aubergine fritters and a rather special cauliflower dish that had a cheese sauce hidden in the florets before being coated in a tempura batter.
All very beautiful and perfectly cooked with nice al-dente cauliflower. The Red Mullet was also immaculately cooked and presented. I rather like the idea of the fish layer between the pastry base and tomato topping – a great way to minimise the risk of a soggy bottom.
Our idea with desserts was meant to be to share. But my companion developed something of a love affair with his ‘choux praline’ which came with blood orange jelly and caramelised nuts and I don’t remember actually trying it.
Meanwhile, it would have taken a lot to separate me from ‘La Pomme Chiboust’ a rather spectacular apple dish served on a speculous biscuit with chestnut cream on the side.
L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon, London has just lost its second michelin star. I’m not enough of a michelin junkie to really know whether that was deserved or not, but I can say that it was one of the best ONE star michelin meals I’ve had. There are a few things you need to be aware of if you intend eating lunch there. While for dinner service the first floor dining room offers table service, the lunch menu is offered on the ground floor with what l’Atelier themselves describe as ‘Counter Dining’. I loved sitting and watching the chefs at work, but it might not be the best place to take an elderly relative. It is though, a very good value option and there’s more choice than a normal fixed price menu (6 starters and 8 main courses). The matched wines for my companion (four generous glasses) and my large glass of white wine, together with some sparkling water gave us a bill of around £45. That seemed a very fair price, although it might be nice if the Truly Experiences gift had the option to add in wines as part of the meal.
So, Truly Experiences was a great success for me. I can’t think anyone would be disappointed by the range of options available – and presentation and delivery of the gift matched the premium positioning. Now if anyone would like to gift me this little sailing trip I’d be a VERY happy girl
L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon
13-15 West Street
London WC2H 9NE