Joël Robuchon was the world’s most Michelin-starred chef and the 2006 arrival on West Street of his l’Atelier de Joël Robuchon marked the decisive moment when the planet’s foremost restaurant brands deemed a presence in London essential.
The loss of l‘Atelier’s two Michelin stars, the death of Robuchon in 2018 and the closure of the restaurant the following year all seemed like nails in the coffin of a very noughties style of fine dining. But the lasting impact of the chef on London has been underlined by this supremely assured revival of the Robuchon brand, precision tuned for globetrotting (and deep-pocketed) Mayfair diners.
The dining room looks stunning, illuminated by floor-to-ceiling plate glass windows, with a long marble bar by the entrance giving way to a long open kitchen and counter on one side, plush velvet-upholstered banquettes on the other and cleverly angled mirrors providing excellent people-watching opportunities of the glamorous goings-on.
Luxury ingredients abound on a menu overseen by chef Jeremy Page (who was in charge of the kitchen on our visit, but has since left), who spent 10 years with Robuchon at the original l’Atelier in Paris and headed up the kitchen of the London outpost. The smoothest slice of pressed foie gras, pink and veined like a piece of alabaster, is topped with a jammy layer of fig, while there’s more foie parcelled up with langoustine in a fat pin cushion of ravioli.
Caviar runs like a seam of black gold through the menu, adorning a bar snack of luscious wagyu beef, spooned over turbot in a perfectly balanced seaweed butter sauce and, even more fabulously, given star billing as the dark heart of a lobster jelly embellished with around 50 teardrops of cauliflower cream – typical of the painstakingly labour-intensive technique applied to all the faultlessly presented dishes.
Robuchon’s signature is everywhere, from the legendary dish of pommes purée (with a heart-stopping 1:1 ration of butter to spud) which remains the sine qua non of mashed potato, to the ‘JR’ initials which elegantly adorn everything from terrific breads to the toffee-coloured top of the aptly named Le Chocolat Sensation.
Naturally, none of this comes cheap, and prices head ever more skywards when investigating the French-focused wine list, though a set lunch for £39 is a godsend for shoppers who’ve maxed out on Bond Street. Le Comptoir Robuchon is a seamless continuation of Robuchon’s legacy – a star is re-born.