September 6, 2014

The Sommelier at L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon

By In Food and Wine, Tasting Reports
I was in a restaurant once where, on asking the sommelier – crisply suited with a dangling, shiny, tastevin hanging around his neck – for a wine list I was haughtily advised that they only have two wines, “a red, sir and a white. Sir”. I, in a fit of uncontrolled astonishment questioned the lack of a rosé. One wonders if his extensive training didn’t stretch to the coupling of rosé and the pitiful dishes the kitchen kicked out. But he looked quite perturbed under my eye-brow raised Paddington Bear stare.

That was my one and only, ever so slightly interesting, sommelier anecdote. But I now have another. I perched on a stool at L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon a couple of weeks past. Our tasting selection of various foods was to be accompanied by a different wine for each of the courses (actually a glass for two courses but one doesn’t like to quibble) with the sommelier selecting the actual wine. With just one exception the wine matches this particular sommelier selected where stonkingly superb and the most perfect accompaniments to the food.

Step forward and hearty back-slaps for Tania Solito, the duty sommelier that evening. I adored the Pinot Gris with the Scallops and the matching of the Sauvignon Blanc, served from a magnum no less, with the ravioli was near perfect. I often couple a punchy Sauvignon with pan fried liver, so was pleased to try the match with another dish, in this case the sublime lamb sweetbreads, kidneys and mushrooms; a combination that revealed a host of contrasting flavours in the wine. Having just returned from a trip across Bordeaux I was delighted to be served a claret; this particular Margaux was drinking so, so perfectly… This was a wine lovers culinary heaven.


Our dishes were taken from the Dégustation (Small Tasting Plates menu) – and were shared between the two of us while seated at the bar.

Matched with Terlan Pinot Gris:
Sea Bream Carpaccio with lemon and mild chilli (£17)
Scallops in their shell served with yuzu foam, baby leeks and lemongrass pictured above (£18)

Served with the delectable Firesteed Pinot Gris from Oregon:
Marinated black cod in miso served on a green peas and mint mousseline pictured (£21)
John Dory fillet on a tomato reduction with avocado vierge sauce pictured (£18)

Served with Marjan Simcic Sauvignon Blanc:
Fricassee of lamb sweetbreads and kidneys with black trompette mushrooms pictured (that days special)
Langoustine ravioli with Savoy cabbage and foie gras sauce (£26)

Alongside the near perfect Chevalier de Lascombes 2008:
Free range quail stuffed with foie gras and mashed potatoes (£17)

With Veuve Clicquot Rosé:
Beef and foie gras burger with lightly caramelised bell peppers pictured (£19) Not the most convincing of matches, the champagne more of a palate cleanser than a ‘match’ but what the heck – its rosé champagne!

La Baba au rhum – Orange flavoured baba with exotic Rhum and Melba cream with Tahiti vanilla £11
Warm Guanaja chocolate soufflé and Sicilian pistachio ice cream £11

Wines were served with the desserts too. But ‘last train home’ panic meant I had a spoonful and a slurp and then dashed. A shame. They needed more attention.

Now I did note that my dining companions eyes glazed over a tad when Tania, during each wines introductory speech, mentioned soil types. Not for everyone I guess. Tania didn’t seem that confident when I asked a couple of more technical questions – cant recall what they were now and was probably just showing off anyway – but she was obviously highly enthused by her native Italian and neighbouring Slovenian wines rather than, say, the Bordeaux but overall a sterling effort. Perhaps non-wine geeky ie ‘normal’ people love all the talk of soil types, growing conditions and other such geekery and lap up the info with barely a question.

The combination of company, excellent wine selections and superb food made this meal one of the best I have had; for, like, forever.

There was much surprise on how much envy (and half-concealed delight) that twitter followers exhibited over our visit to L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon. It was only as I ran down the road towards Charing Cross Station that I realised why. The place is superb.

Photo Gallery: Food and Wines Picked by The Sommilier at L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon

L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon has two Michelin Stars and was the host of the experience.
Address: 13-15 West St, London WC2H 9NE

I do need to apologise for the quality of the photos. The downstairs restaurant is incredibly dark. There is also little space to position a camera while seated at the bar. All the photos were shot on a very high ISO and processed to the best of my ability (a couple look like I’ve over done the contrast). Will be interesting to see how my companions photos come out as she used a lens better suited to the conditions… and I am sure she will give each dish a fuller description and evaluation.

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Top :: Comments

  1. Jeanne Horak-Druiff January 31, 2015

    You apologise for the photos?!?! Just editing mine now and trust me, yours are FABULOUS! The lighting was v dark and v red… Gorgeous post and glad I got a mention (ahem!) as the company!

    • Andrew Barrow January 31, 2015

      Thanks for saying so! Can’t wait to see your versions and read the report.


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