Le Comptoir Robuchon in Mayfair: “Decadently good”
Grandeur and lustre, class and the best of French cuisine percolate through Le Comptoir Robuchon. Off Piccadilly and at some distance from the popular Berkeley Square, the London holding of Joël Robuchon’s legacy is a genie’s cave of opulence and colour. The famous marble counter, a dominant feature, seems to stretch into the distance on the left, first against a backlit crystalline wall filled with bottles for the bar, and then ovens and steaming hobs in the main dining space. There are tilted rectangular mirrors in front of the stalls, a rippled golden wallhanging at the very back, and monumental chandeliers that match lamps on the counter. Even at lunchtime, the space preserves consistent illumination. The air quickly fills with the smell of activity from the kitchen; even from the table seats, we can observe everything happening around our food, and the team dynamic is almost soundless. Head chef Fabio Fasano leads. The legacy he carries on his shoulders could be deemed pretty heavy, but he succeeds in lending a delightful touch to French staples, delivering Robuchon’s desire for convivial haute cuisine.
There are some fixed-price lunch options as well as the chef’s Signature Menu, a five-course tailored experience. The à la carte menu requires more time to think about the variety of choices, organised as cold starters, hot starters, meat, vegetables, and so on – with prices ranging from £19 to £78.
The wine list obviously tends towards the French, with exciting sections for Champagne, Burgundy and Loire. For the signature cocktails list – Les Créations – the theme followed is predominantly botanical, with concoctions featuring ingredients from grapefruit cordial to limoncello foam, liqueur de fraise to pear juice. The Jasmine Reviver is well-balanced, a flow of sweetness with a final punch of citrus. As we sip our drinks, a basket full to the brim with bread lands on the table: squid ink brioche, cheese brioche, small baguettes and more, the fragrance of each otherworldly.
La Saint-Jacques inaugurates our lunch. Silky scallop carpaccio sleekly slides through mango purée with the tiniest croutons and a drop of lemon juice. It’s dainty and juicy, a marvellous preparation of the shellfish. L’Anguille Fumée consists of a very smoky and tender eel on mushy potato rounds, and the intention, entrusted to the horseradish cream, is once again to avoid too much smoothness. Among les entrées chaudes is the showstopper of the meal: Le Soufflé au Fromage. The airy soufflé appears and feels in consistency as if it is made purely of essence of cheese, but as soon as the mouth enjoys it completely, the intensity of the flavours hits all the right points, finished off with bits of chorizo. The sauce, made with Arbois Blanc (a white wine from Jura), is incredible: subtle and still enveloping.
Le Risotto is a comforting main course, served as a generous portion, thriving with the best of seasonal vegetables, which, at the time of writing, means green asparagus. Now, a question: if you haven’t ordered Les Minis Burgers at least once, have you actually dined at Le Comptoir? Minute soft buns frame the chunky and filling of beef and foie gras. Executed in a decisively classic way, they may not stand out as original or as intriguing as the entrées, for example, but they are decadently good.
For an impeccably mellow cut of veal, Le Veau is unparalleled, accompanied by delicious morels and asparagus. A must in this temple of French cuisine is Robuchon’s iconic Pommes Purée, whose dreamy, velvety texture, dense in potato content and still resulting in a light cream, without being runny, is a virtuosic elevation of a simple side, deserving of its fame.
The ending is far from a sugary dessert – indeed, it’s a zesty, cleansing finale, exquisitely plated. La Tarte Fine à l’Orange Sanguine is an ode to citrus notes. Slices of blood orange are laid in a flower shape on a thin base of puff pastry, served with a dollop of yuzu sorbet. The only element missing is a touch of sweetness.
The sumptuous and chic interior of Le Comptoir Robuchon is reflected in the richness of the menu and the meticulousness of the presentation, while eschewing any risk of anything exaggeratedly complicated. The dishes follow Robuchon’s dogma of a few tasty components: superlative fine dining with undeniable sophistication.
Photos: Virginie Viche
To book a table at Le Comptoir Robuchon, 6 Clarges Street London W1J 8AE, call 02080760570 or visit their website here.