Joël Robuchon was a genuine giant of the restaurant world, at one point holding 31 Michelin stars across more than a dozen restaurants, the most any restaurateur has ever had. Following the sad news of Robuchon’s death, his L’Atelier restaurant in Covent Garden closed, re-opening just a few weeks ago as L’Atelier Robuchon in Mayfair.

All this is to say that L’Atelier Robuchon is very high-end – think ‘celebration meal’ rather than ‘casual weekday bite’ – but does it justify its reputation (and its prices)?

The restaurant itself is beautifully laid out, with art deco-inspired soft lighting and plush seating which evokes a genuine sense of luxury. Even the bar seating is comfortable enough to spend several hours working your way through the cocktail menu without worrying about a stiff back.

Speaking of cocktails, it’s an inventive and novel list which is presented by the expert team. Luckily they’re happy to walk you through the combinations, from the armagnac-based and citrus-flecked ‘Pyréneées’ to the smoky old-fashioned-inspired ‘Martinique’.

Onto the food, and it’s a masterclass in using just the right amount of just the right ingredients. The sea bream carpaccio is a case in point – its delicate flavour enhanced by a lemon vinaigrette and lime zest which doesn’t overpower the taste, but accent it perfectly. It’s so fresh it could almost be used as a fishy palette-cleanser between other courses. 

At the other end of the spectrum when it comes to starters is the poached egg with caviar and smoked salmon. Overwhelmingly decadent, it’s still balanced enough that the heavy dollop of caviar feels like a necessary ingredient, rather than a flashy addition to an already perfect dish.

Main courses range from the eye-catchingly adventurous (caramelised black cod with coconut milk foam) to the tried and trusted classics (veal rib with seasonal veg). It’s a juggling act between the chefs flexing their culinary muscles, while still offering the classic French dishes that fans of Joël Robuchon expect. True to form, even the classics don’t take themselves too seriously – the grilled lobster is masterfully cooked and presented, but it’s not oversauced to the point where you can barely tell what you’re eating. 

Desserts are a similar mix between the old and the new. Lemon soufflé is light and fluffy, paired with an incredibly rich vanilla ice cream. ‘Le Chocolat’ is so over-the-top it could almost function as a meal by itself, but that didn’t stop us from polishing the whole thing off in record time.

Back to the original question – is it worth the money? The portions are a good size, the ambience is impeccable and the food and drinks are delicious, but the real stars at L’atelier Robuchon are the staff. Throughout the meal they were on hand to suggest dishes, explain ingredients and make each diner feel at home, all while remaining conversational and welcoming. A lot of people worry that the more expensive a restaurant, the less comfortable they’ll be, with stereotypes of superior waiting staff who will somehow find out they don’t ‘deserve’ to eat there. L’atelier Robuchon’s staff are the complete opposite, and the icing on top of an incredible evening.

For further information on L’atelier Robuchon, see here

6 Clarges St, London W1J 8AE