This time we sat downstairs, at the bar stools that surround the open kitchen. These are quite tightly spaced, so any extravagant arm movement ended up bumping the neighbouring diner’s arm, yet the place was fairly empty this lunch time so I am not sure why they packed the settings so tightly. Bread rolls (just white) were surprisingly dull, and tasted worryingly like catering rolls.
An amuse-bouche of foie gras with a pork emulsion and a Parmesan topping was enjoyable rich, the small pieces of pork adding a texture contrast to the foie gras (16/20). Crab meat in tomato jelly and avocado suffered from the very intense tomato jelly completely overpowering the delicate flavour of the crab (14/20). Egg cocotte topped with light mushroom cream was pleasant enough, though another rich dish (14/20).
Scottish salmon cooked a la plancha was served on a bed of nicely cooked leeks flavoured with ginger, but this was hard to tell because the spiced honey sauce on top of the (farmed but correctly cooked) salmon killed every other flavour on the plate (14/20). Caramelised veal was a little dry, served with braised vegetables and a little sage-flavoured jus (14/20). Even the fabled Robuchon mash was only a pale reflection of the real thing at the old Robuchon in Paris (15/20).
A chocolate mousse was served in a dish of dry ice (why?) and was prettily presented with a disc of chocolate on top, but the mousse itself seemed quite ordinary to me, smooth but without great intensity. A second similar mousse with a darker chocolate again looked pretty but I was not that impressed with the flavour of the chocolate (15/20). Coffee was good (16/20).
Overall I was disappointed by this meal. Ingredients seemed cheap, and pretty presentation was a way to distract the diner from this. Even a taste of pata negra ham was disappointing; I’m not sure what producer this was (“it varies” according to the waiter) but although cut fresh off the leg by hand it had an unusually pale pallor and was merely nice when this ham can be dazzling at its best. Cooking technique was generally good, but some of the dishes seemed ill-conceived, with flavours that did not match well. Service was very pleasant throughout, a big improvement on my last experience here. Sadly the food was not.