Joël Robuchon started-up his atelier in London in 2006. The Japanese style counter concept, where the chefs directly prepare food in front of diners was certainly unique at the time. Robuchon has set standards in Paris, Tokyo and Las Vegas, but what his chef Olivier Limousin delivers at the London, is far from what you might expect.
Nothing can be more disappointing than expecting excellence and walking away with the feeling that, “yes, it was good….but come on…what dreadful service”, and not just once but several times. To make matters worse, the food is always fantastic.
For example, the crab meat in tomato jelly and avocado is three layers of pure creativity. The first layer is pure crab meat, fresh and tasty. The second, tomato jelly, which is lightly spiced with piment d’Espelette that enhances the crab. Then, the wonderful avocado jelly, which is soft and green and slightly zinged-up with some wasabi and a little citrus acidity.
Just as good is a dessert, which is a sorbet hidden below a mushroom meringue, covered with gold that melts beneath a fountain of Viennois chocolate.
But the service? It’s hard to imagine worse. Unfortunately, it’s that caricature of arrogant French waiters that were banished from most parts of the UK a long time ago. The front of house are more interested in serving the wealthier guests and are likely to turn their noses up at you if you order one of the cheaper dished on the menu.
Though, one place where you can escape from the bad service is on the top-floor cocktail bar, which is an absolute gem. Fortunately, these waiters don’t seem to have been trained by the ones downstairs.
Overall, the Atelier in London is not what Robuchon’s restaurant La Table is in Paris. While the standard of the food is very high, the overall experience is ruined by the attitudes of the front of house staff.