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Wine List Confidential: Le Comptoir Robuchon

Set to be upgraded to L’Atelier level this September, Le Comptoir has been described as “an apposite memorial to the great chef” by Square Meal’s Charlie Burton, its “world-class inventive French cuisine” honouring the late Joël Robuchon “who had 32 Michelin stars to his name, spread across three continents, by the time of his death in August 2018” according to Luxury Lifestyle Magazine.


Guests survey the substantial marble bar, where, ready to be stirred and shaken into cocktails such as the Violette Nue and Rum Blazer, spirits perch on tall, rotating, cake stand-like shelves, or the open kitchen counter from where appetising smoky scents emanate. Flatteringly lit by lifebuoy like chandeliers, this gorgeous dining room, by James Waterworth, features a golden rumpled sculpture, bronze fringed glossy black tables, coral coloured banquettes, and slanting mirrors which extend the views and reflect the faces of other diners. Arguably the best vantage is corner table ten in the middle of the room, offering full admission to the performance of the chefs, as they acknowledge orders and set beeping timers. Meanwhile, the signature “Robuchon Soundtrack” according to Charlotte Page, international head sommelier for Joël Robuchon, is “modern and discreet.”


Page, whose motto is, “the truth is in the glass, isn’t it?” was born in Brittany, a region not known for wine. In Paris, she worked with Enrico Bernardo at Il Vino, who, she says, “taught me everything about wine, the industry and how to attend to guests.” She also worked at The Peninsula, alongside “the kindest and funniest sommelier”, Xavier Thuizat. Perhaps most formatively for life and love was her time at the city’s L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon, where she worked “intense” shifts alongside the late Robuchon, recalling, “you could tell he was in the room even without seeing him.” It was here she met her husband. “Robuchon even made a video speech for my wedding!” she shares. In London she worked at Experimental Group. “I’m pretty sure I’ve learned twice as much about wine in the UK than in France,” she says. “I’m not sure that the sommeliers working in London realise how exceptional the wine scene here is. All the winemakers come to you – you can taste and discover any wine from the whole world without having to move.”

At Le Comptoir, Page, who happens to adore tomatoes and abhor Zinfandel, has built a predominantly French selection, “not necessarily because I believe French wines are better, but in order to match the French food we offer,” she says. Of its 900 bins, up by 100 in a year, emphasis is placed on what Page calls “true” wines “which we are proud to serve” ranging from humble, aged Muscadet (Pierre Luneau-Papin) to big Bordeaux houses, including Mouton Rothschild 1996 by the glass, and by the bottle, La Mission-Haut-Brion 2000 and Cheval Blanc 1986. Meanwhile, some 230 bins excitedly cover vineyards outside L’Hexagone, from Dominio Del Aguila Ribera Del Duero which Page discovered in person last year, to Terre Siciliane Magma, Frank Cornelissen 2016, and Penfolds Hill of Grace 1998.


With dishes realised by head chef, Andrea Cofini, previously of L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon in Paris and Joël Robuchon, Shanghai, matches are selected by the precise and funny, head sommelier, Noémie Favrat. Originating from Haute-Savoie, a region she is determined to amass a greater selection from, Favrat counts, in London, Seven Park Place, Le Gavroche, Mandarin Oriental, The Dorchester and The Lanesborough on her CV, as well as Bilbao’s Azurmendi and Le Bristol, Paris. She appears to adhere to all Page’s requisite attributes for hiring sommeliers, being “kindness, knowledge and people skills” and “not showing off”.

Lunch opened not with the global perennial of all Robuchon restaurants, Laurent-Perrier, but a biodynamically produced grower Champagne from a single site, single year and single grape variety. La Rue des Noyers was raised in barrels from trees owned by producer, Benoît Dehu. The Pinot Meunier, free from malolactic fermentation, was golden, long-lived and sufficiently ample to accompany a lavish bread basket, including a particularly attractive roll banded with squid ink.

Poured with Coravin into Mark Thomas stemware, Domaine de Vaccelli Granit Blanc 2020, a monumental Vermentino from Corsica’s Southern Ajaccio, as depthful as a seasoned free diver, brough tension to a tin set into bespoke crockery of Oscietra caviar from female led caviar company, Volzhenka, whose brand name “was used to describe the local women who once inhabited the banks of the Volga River”. This wowing layer of salty finery eclipsed tender layers of king crab, lobster jelly and a refreshing fennel cream.

Next, Château Mercarde’s Le Grande Blanc, a fine Savoyan Chignin Bergeron Roussanne, met a truffle shard finished langoustine raviolo in a foie gras sauce. Wearing such slight pastry, the veins of the flesh of the scampo was visible. The wine acted like said pastry, being delicate, yet allowing appreciation of the ingredients beyond it. It is little surprise some diners impulsively order another raviolo straight after bolting the dish.

With the richest, most entertaining dish, Le Black Cod presented in an almost yin and yang configuration of shiny Malabar sauce, apparently a favourite of Robuchon, abutted with a come hither coconut foam, Favrat selected Campanian Barbera, Coppacorte, by Cantina Bosco Sant’Agnese. With gentle tannins this bright “transition” wine paired well with the well spiced Malabar – and even the token vegetable, being crisp pak choi.

The final savoury course saw quail gravid with more foie arrive with a little of the famous Robuchon pomme purée, a celebration of butter, whole milk, salt and of course potato epitomising his words, “the older I get, the more I realise the truth is the simpler the food, the more exceptional it can be.” This was supplemented with a further substantial bowl of this immensely pleasing mash on the side. Five year old Loire Cabernet Franc, from parcels reaching to 80 years old, in the form of Les Moulins Saumur Rouge, brought slightly more “rustic” tannins and a hint of greenness. This wine was purchased by Favrat after Page advised her, “you know what I want – you buy.”

Finally, and new on the menu, a celebration of vanilla, Le Pure Vanille, including prâliné, crémeux and edible gold, met an encapsulation of such flavours and opulence in the albeit unfiltered glass. Discovered in the cellar two floors down, Favrat generously selected her last bottle of 2010 Cuvée L’Aisthésis, Rousset Peyraguey, reaped from blue clay in view of Chateau d’Yquem, predominantly aged in century old acacia.

Last Word

Having tasted Robuchon’s food twice before in his presence, at Bernard Magrez’s La Grande Maison by Joël Robuchon, and La Cuisine de Joël Robuchon, London (both restaurants RIP) today’s meal, heightened, considerably, by the care and skill of Noémie Favrat, who has risen to become one of the UK’s top sommelier talents and is deserving of recognition accordingly, actually proved even more enjoyable. For this is no hushed library referencing, slavishly, the culinary works of a statue, but a place of the present – of happiness and celebration and vinous enlightenment at achievable prices. While vintage hunters can and do spend £5,000 on wine in a sitting, with a keenly priced set lunch, Monday-Saturday, and with the glass options beginning at just £9, a wide range of guests can enjoy being pampered in this lovely room – at least until the end of July. For in August, L’Atelier’s signature palette of reds and blacks will be applied as the venue enters the higher league, ready to reopen come September….

Best For

  • Regional Champagne list
  • Sweet wines, including Madeira to the 1930s
  • The care of the ever inquisitive, Noémie Favrat
  • Sumptuous, classy setting

Value: 96, Size: 96, Range: 96, Originality: 95, Experience: 98.5, Total: 96.3

Le Comptoir Robuchon – 6 Clarges St, London, W1J 8AE; 020 8076 0570 ;;

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