Le Comptoir Robuchon, Mayfair, London
After reading how Le Comptoir Robuchon was one of the capital’s finest French eateries, well, it’s fair to say my expectation about this restaurant was at fever pitch as I floated in on a cloud of anticipatory euphoria. Upon entering, I was immediately surrounded by huge Murano lights and gorgeous Italian marble, and right away, I knew I was in for something a little bit special.
Shaking me from my trance, the delightful sommelier appeared out of nowhere with a very welcome silent chariot of wines by the glass. The wine list offers a generous selection and at only £45, the set lunch has wine-pairing options too. And it didn’t escape my attention that the glass of fresh-tasting house Champagne was in a gleaming Riedel, whose glasses make such a difference to oenological enjoyment.
The wines were then momentarily forgotten as the most spectacular breadbasket I have ever seen arrived, comprising rolls with razor-thin lines of squid ink, rolls with 24-month matured cottage cheese within, the obligatory French baguettes, and then a truly incredible twisted stick with, wait for it, bacon, and whole mustard seeds! All tantalisingly warm, accompanied by ever so slightly salted butter. Hats off to the genius who dreamed up that breadbasket. Merci beaucoup.
Next came a tapa of Carpaccio of yellowtail with a hint of lime and curry flavour and tiny crunchy peanuts. It was a clean palate awakener for sure. Then for starters, I was keen to try Joël Robuchon’s famous signature dish of Sea bream carpaccio, lemon dressing, and poppy seeds. And I can’t remember ever enjoying a starter that was oh-so-perfect.
An even more dramatic starter was then presented to us. Behold the Le Thon Façon Caesar. Think fresh tuna cooked à la table, by my new best friend, Ludovic, the maître’ d. He glazed the tuna sashimi with a teriyaki sauce before cooking it over hot coals, then in true theatre style, he blowtorched it. Alongside this was a long crunchy boat of romaine lettuce, with a little Parmesan and sauce vierge. All washed down with a glass of pale pink Domaine Ott Rosé.
Before the main event, we were presented with a second amuse-bouche palate cleanser which came in the form of a Lemon vanilla jelly, with fennel cream and a little tapenade, and basil oil, which was just as good as it sounds.
Mains were a lovely piece of Halibut on Asparagus served with an outstanding olive oil mash and girolles, with a beurre blanc sauce and wild garlic leaves. Alongside this came a triumphant Caramelised black cod in a Malabar pepper sauce and a coconut pepper sauce, with a tiny pak choi. These mains worked well with a glass of Chenin Blanc Ronceray 2020.
Desserts were a Hot Blackcurrant soufflé, with a depth charge of Greek yogurt ice cream meeting a charming compote of blackcurrants within. This battled for my affection with the Rhubarb pavlova with Swiss meringue tasting of marshmallow, strawberry marmalade, rhubarb emulsion, and sorbet. My pre-requisite Tokaji followed.
Italian-born Chef Andrea Cofini took over at the helm in May this year as Executive Chef, and he is working alongside Head Chef Fabio Fasano. Throw Ludovic’s exemplary service into the mix, and it’s quite a team they’ve assembled at Le Comptoir Robuchon. This is evident in the food they serve and the restaurant they’ve created. My initial feeling that I was in for something a little bit special rang just as true at the end of the meal as it had when I walked through the door two and a half hours before.
I have only one recommendation left.
Charles Pelham, FoodNoise
6 Clarges Street,