L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon, with two Michelin Stars, in Covent Garden, is a venue that I have always enjoyed, so an invite to try an eight course Potato tasting menu, with matched wines, as part of National Potato Week, was eagerly accepted. Although I couldn’t think of eight ways to cook potato, I was sure that I would be surprised; and indeed I was.
On arrival I sampled the Salt and Vinegar Vodka Martini. Different but delightful, I could tell I was in for something of a treat.
Course 1 was an L’Amuse-Bouche – a potato blinis topped with a fried quail egg, smoked salmon and caviar. Very pretty and a good opening settler to the menu itself.
The concept behind the tasting menu was to show how you can use the different varieties of potatoes to create different styled dishes, and this follows along with the new classification for potatoes to help consumers decide when shopping. The head Chef at L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon, Olivier Limousin, has created a range of potato based dishes especially for Potato Week, aimed at showing the versatility of the potato, by matching the right type of potato with other ingredients.
Course 2 was La Truffe Noire; Truffle Marinated Potato Salad. The Charlotte potato is used in this dish, which is a salad potato with a firm texture that remains complete in salads, but can also be steamed or roasted whole. In this dish, the firm salad potatoes were sliced to create a great base for the delicate slices of truffle on top. The delicate taste of the potato could also be enjoyed. The matched wine was a Mâcon Loché Vin de Bourgogne Domain Cordier 2010, with gentle tones that acted as a good opener to the meal.
Course 3 was La Pomme de Terre; a creamy Vichyssoise with Leeks and Smoked Haddock using Desiree potatoes (smooth) for a perfect soupy cream. The matched wine was Mas de Daumas Gassac Grand Cru 2011, full of fruit and minerals.
Course 4 was Les Gnocchi; These were made using King Edward potato, classified as fluffy, and here they were presented perfectly and tasted amazing. They were firm yet fluffy, soaking up the potato cream sauce, and dressed with mushroom and fava beans.
Gnocchi is something that many people may have tried to make at home but usually fail, so the skill in making them was widely applauded. The matched wine was a Ovilos Ktima Biblia Chora 2011, a Greek wine full of Mediterranean summer tastes.
Course 5 was Le Porc; Iberico Pork braised with Grenach wine and served with Potato Mousseline. This used Desiree potatoes again, whipped and sieved to produce the most perfect mashed potato you can imagine. The texture was smoother than a milkshake, yet full of creamy potato flavor. The pork was cooked to perfection, and broke cleanly on the fork without the need for a knife. The matched wine was the Resalte Ribero del Duero Crianza 2005, a superb award winning red.
Following on there were two desserts.
Course 6 was La Pomme Amande; A crisp of almond, potato and vanilla with a red fruits coulis. This used the Maris Peer (salad) potato, its firmer body helping make the crisp. There was also a surprise dish of filled Potato sweets. These were a small parcel of warm sweet filo type pastry filled with a melting potato and vanilla puree. They had to be put into your mouth whole where they literally broke apart releasing the finest tasting warm puree, the taste being vanilla with a quizzical flavor from the potato. Simply amazing and divine.
Course 7 was Piccolini; These are potato churros, made form Maris Piper (fluff) potato, caramelised using grand marnier and brown sugar and served with citrus custard and manderin sorbet. Again, they tasted sweet and fluffy, with that unique flavor that told you they were something different but oh so good. The top of the potato wafer was dressed in edible gold. The matched wine wit desserts was the rare and sweet De Trafford Straw Wine Stellenbosch 2009.
Course 8 was Potato Petit Four; Made using King Edward (fluffy) and Desiree (smooth) this petit four looked and tasted wonderful, and even now I could not tell there was any potato in them.
Finally we rounded off the meal with some coffee although Potato Vodka would have been a good choice too.
This was a dinner built around the potato, with each dish having potato as its major ingredient, but the skill of the chefs in making each dish, in its presentation and taste really highlights why they have the Michelin Stars. And to further dazzle you with their skills the kitchen area is open so you can watch each dish being prepared.
The tasting menu will be available at L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon for the National Potato Week (first week in October). It may sound a strange thing to try, but hopefully you will go and enjoy; you will never think of potatoes in the same way again. Included is also the matched wine, making this a truly unique gastronomic experience.
Check out the Potato Council website at manyfacesofpotatoes.co.uk for more updates and details on varieties and events.
L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon
13-15 West Street