For me, food isn't just fuel. Sharing a meal, experiencing new cuisines, sitting around a table together to eat - it's simply a wonderful and natural way to connect and spend time together with friends and family. When the preparation and cooking goes beyond a certain level, it becomes an art. Not that casual dining or cooking isn't, but fine dining like the one I'm talking about today is undeniably something quite special.
I am incredibly lucky to have been brought up in a family of food lovers and appreciators, and my parents took me and my sister out to some amazing restaurants growing up. Having said that, eating out wasn't taken for granted - it always felt like an occasion, and I loved that.
E and I are so well matched in this regard. We are passionate about food, about talking about food, about appreciating and enjoying a €2 souvlaki (like the one we had in Santorini!) with the same enthusiasm as we do eating in Michelin starred restaurants. We don't like places that are pretentious for the sake of it, nor do we like street food vendors who don't care about what they do. Basically, we are big fans of any place that does their thing well. As with anything, really!
On my birthday, my husband took me out for one of the best meals I've had in London, and anywhere else for that matter.
For fellow foodies, the name Joel Robuchon is no stranger - only one of the best chefs ever. And so, when we were searching options for where to go and saw that l'Atelier de Joel Robuchon offer great lunch menu options, we knew we'd found a winner.
Their lunch menus are honestly fantastic value for money, considering eating a la carte would cost an arm and a leg. You can choose from 2, 3 or 4 courses, and each comes with the option of including matching wines with every dish. 4 courses without wine is £41, which I consider a very reasonable price at a restaurant of such calibre.
As we were celebrating, we took the menus with the matching wines - which at £64 with the generous amount of wine you are given (really, very generous), is a very good deal. I don't like to go on about money and such, but I think it's important to know your options when you want to go somewhere special - it's your hard earned cash!
We were sat at the counter facing the open kitchen, to which E exclaimed, "Perfect for you! You can take lots of great photos!" - he has definitely become used to being the partner of a blogger. It really was great though, seeing the chefs and the staff work so calmly and efficiently and with such precision.
We started off with some delicious bread and the complimentary amuse bouche, which was a foie gras, sweet wine and parmesan froth. Amazing.
For my two entrées, I chose the game pâté with caramelised pear and the soft boiled egg with watercress purée and parmesan. E had the egg and the kipper (can't remember the exact description for any of these, so I'm doing my best!).
The pâté came with crisp pieces of toast, and it was delicious - the sweetness of the pear was perfectly matched. The egg dish was even better, and the purée was completely different to anything I had tasted before. Before E started on his egg, he said, "Don't you want to take an action shot?" I swear, I don't pay him to say this stuff.
For my main course, I went for the slow-braised beef cheek with parmesan crisp and E had the lamb with samosas - a Moroccan inspired dish. I wish they had the menu online so I could tell you more details about them, but I can tell you that my beef was outstanding. I literally stabbed my fork into the meat too hard because I wasn't expecting it to be so completely tender! The flavour was perfect, and E's dish was superb too.
As a bonus, they gave us a serving of Robuchon's infamous potato purée, about which E has talked my ear off about and was hoping it was on the menu. This is so completely, utterly not your typical mashed potato. It tastes like potato and butter got married and had the most beautiful babies. I know, a bit weird, but I don't know how else to describe it!
And then came dessert.
E chose the tarte au citron, and I went for the white chocolate and strawberry cheesecake. Stunning. I was pretty full by this point, but you couldn't have paid me to not finish every crumb. E's lemon tart was so pretty and tasted as good as it looked - I have to say, they were both pretty big portions too. The dessert wine we were given (we were given different ones, the one pictured below was mine) were excellent.
They had 3 choices for dessert - the other one was a macaron which also looked delightful - but if you're more of a cheese person, they have that option too.
But it wasn't over! I was given a beautiful plate of Happy Birthday petit fours. Turning 27 might not be as exciting as turning 7, but adult birthdays sure do have their perks!
Aside from the food, the service was impeccable. They were friendly, clear, attentive but not obtrusive - not an easy feat. I really had the best time and I loved every minute and mouthful!
Thank you E for spoiling me, you're la crème de la crème.
Sorry, I had to.