So you may remember I had lunch at Heston Blummenthal’s Dinner (just awarded its second Michelin star, by the way) with Sarah, one of my travelling companions on our Italian extravaganza. Well, to cut a long story short, both our husbands suffered from serious food envy as a result of that dining pleasure, so our next outing simply had to include them. Which is how the four of us ended up heading for Joel Robuchon’s La Cuisine for lunch on a balmy Saturday in September.
Set on a side street (the same one as The Ivy) on the edge of Covent Garden, the restaurant has two sections – the downstairs L’Atelier and the upstairs La Cuisine. We headed upstairs (up a seriously dark staircase after the bright sun outside) to a stylish dining area with an open kitchen.
After some consideration we decided to go for the set menu with wine pairing. Good value at £50 for three courses. After we’d ordered the maitre’d came around showing off the restaurant’s latest arrivals – huge white truffles from Northern Italy. He was rightfully proud of them and we all inhaled their unique aroma – so deliciously rich and earthy. Luckily we’d ordered as I could see temptation in everyone’s eyes but at £2,200 a kg (yes, seriously), we’d have to have a proper excuse to celebrate by tucking into the truffles. So lunch remained truffle free.
My starter of a soft duck egg wrapped in jamon and served with red pepper coulis was a delicately comforting mix of sweet and savoury.
The mackerel was warm and melt-in-the-mouth and served with potatoes and mustard sauce.
I was having a particularly indecisive day when it came to choosing my main, so I bravely launched out and ordered something I’d never had before – all without even asking how it was cooked exactly or what it was like. Turned out well as it happens. My whiting looked identical to one my friend Candy had recently in Paris (I know we’re sad, we share food pictures) and the waiter confirmed that it was traditionally Parisian. Beautiful fish with a crunch, served with crispy seaweed and the silkiest of mashed potatoes.
The boys went for a lovely meaty option – the tasty Iberian pork.
A plate of pinkness with perfect duck and peaches.
The food is certainly beautifully presented, as you can see by the pictures and it tastes wonderful, too. The portions are a bit on the small side which is both good and bad, if you see what I mean!
Today it meant we wanted more, so decided to go to their roof garden for dessert and, you’ve guessed it, another bottle of wine! These good-value set-menu London lunches soon seem to go by the wayside once the wine starts flowing. Obviously wine lists at Michelin-star restaurants are a bit on the steep side, should we say and soon the bill starts mushrooming. Anyway, what better to spend a Saturday afternoon than enjoying dessert and a lovely glass of red or two al fresco with friends.
The cheese of the day offered a flavoursome Camembert and luxurious goats cheese. And the desserts were again, beautifully presented and delicious.
A lovely way to spend a Saturday afternoon, great service in totally stylish surrounds with excellent food and wine…oh and the company of course.
I’m still keen to persevere with the set lunch deals around London which do give you the chance to try Michelin-star restaurants for a reasonable price. If only I could keep away from that wine list! I think Sarah and I may have to give it another go…third time lucky?
Joel Robuchon is at 13-15 West Street, WC2