Sometimes, BBC3’s commitment to putting well-meaning amateurs on camera to front its documentaries can really pay off. But Shanna Bukhari, host of ‘Make Me a Muslim’, looks unlikely to enjoy a long career as a TV presenter. A former model and lapsed muslim, Shanna’s stated mission is to discover why increasing numbers of white British women are converting to Islam. And, while she learns (through eccentric lines of questioning) that one of the five young converts she interviews misses eating Parma ham, another skips early morning prayer (‘I love my sleep’) and none of them much miss high heels or short skirts, she barely addresses deeper, more spiritual concerns. A couple of the women have endured tougher times of isolation and rejection – Lisa is a co-wife and Inaya is struggling to find a husband – and have consequently more interesting tales to tell, but this eventually boils down to a standard-issue personal journey, as Shanna weighs up whether or not to re-engage with Islam. A missed opportunity.
L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon
I hadn’t expected to be feverishly scooping up pea soup and spoonfuls of mash at a Michelin-starred restaurant, but this French venue from celebrated chef Joël Robuchon delights in doing things differently. In a good way. As you’d expect it’s a stylish spot, but not in the least bit clinical or stuffy. Sure, you can go full-on fancy by ordering one of the wallet-melting tasting menus, but there’s also a £45 set lunch/pre-theatre menu. Okay, that’d buy you a lot of tacos, freakshakes and sourdough pizzas – but for cooking of this standard in central London, it’s pretty damn good. And pretty damn good covers everything here. A starter of beetroot-cured salmon with pickled vegetables and avocado mousseline was hugely enjoyable, but it was blown away by a headliner of smoked confit cod with sorrel cream and pea velouté. The fish was cooked perfectly, with just the right amount of bite, while the velouté (essentially a smooth soup) was rich and velvety, balanced by the occasional note of refreshing sourness from the sorrel. It demanded to be mopped up with that buttery mashed potato – a complimentary ‘signature of the restaurant’. Michelin-star mash? Why the hell not. On to dessert, and the second-best thing about L’Atelier’s rum baba is that you get to pour the rum on the cake yourself. The best thing? The obscene ooze of booze from the sponge. It’s a punchy hit, but vanilla ice cream cools the flames. It’s these light touches that make L’Atelier so enjoyable and free of the
Venue says: “Lunch - a three-course, Michelin-starred experience. Reserved and ordered entirely online, starting at £29 for a unique seasonal menu.”