Saturday 20 November 2010

Le Gavroche

Le Gavroche is one of those places that I never thought I'd visit. Michel Roux Jr.'s 2 Michelin starred place aint cheap; especially for the tasting menu with matching wines. So when American Express offered to treat me to a meal there I, naturally, jumped at the chance. So if you've got an American Express card, you can also book a table here and at many others via Top Treats, which earns you lots of lovely rewards and points when booking through them.

The dining room, in the basement of the building is heavily upholstered and seemed vaguely Scottish to me. Red and green were the dominant colours, and we slotted ourselves into our table to begin the feast. A glass of Champagne relaxed our work-weary shoulders. First up, teriyaki cod came with bonito flakes lightly waving as our plates were set down. A rice cake, flavoured with curry was stabbed with the crunchiest piece of cod skin. The fish flaked apart beautifully, the sweet sauce deeply tinged with soy. A tangle of leaves hid impossibly thin slices of crisp beetroot.

Next, a scallop dish was garnished with lemon zest at the table. Squid ink-stained tapioca almost fooled us into thinking it was caviar, while a parsley puree brought out the flavours of the sea.

I am a huge fan of sweetcorn but you don't often see it on high-end menus. It came with grilled langoustine and crispy chicken wing; a gorgeous balance of sweet and salty flavours. Buttery lemon sauce lubricated each mouthful well.

Double cheese souffle cooked in double cream. WOW. When I first saw it on the menu my eyes widened; they did again as soon as I took a bite. Each mouthful was like biting into a cheesy cloud. We were gleeful. So rich, so cheesy, so creamy and yet so light. I woke up the next day and subsequently spent much of my time thinking about this.

A slab of foie gras was accompanied by confit duck leg stuffed into a pancake, dusted with icing sugar and with a cinnamon sauce. While my foie gras was cooked perfectly with a gorgeous crust and smooth, creamy innards, my companion didn't fare so well; her foie gras was mealy. This was mega rich and needed something tart to lift it. A sweet Banyuls wine helped things along.

Red leg partridge was well cooked, but I find it difficult to be blown away by the bird - it just tastes like chicken to me. Sorry. The little leg hiding behind the breast was beautifully crisp and succulent though.

A huge cheese trolley was wheeled out and our knowledgable waitress chose well for us. We had to ask for more sturdy receptacles though as the wafer-thin slices offered to us crumbled upon impact.

Finally, a tart tatin terrified us; we were imagining huge dishes of pastry drenched in caramel, but this little number was just the right size. Buttery flaky pastry had softened slices of apple nestled within.

I'd love to be able to tell you all about the wines, but I'm afraid my memory isn't that good. Our neighbouring table sent us a bottle of wine to enjoy as well - apparently stockbrokers are very generous - which only served to add to the wine haze. But I do remember they all worked very well indeed.

We staggered off into the night, fearful of our over-extended bellies. Halfway to the tube station we decided we couldn't take it; a cab was flagged and we flopped ourselves in, windows open, eyes rolling to head home south east. It was an epic experience; no one should be deprived of that cheese souffle.

Le Gavroche

43 Upper Brook Street
London W1K 7QR

Tel: 020 7408 0881

Le Gavroche on Urbanspoon


Kavey said...

Sounds like a really great meal.

Now you've eaten there, do you think it's worth the money, for a special occasion? Or would you choose somewhere else over it if you had roughly that amount to spend?

Patrick said...

Wow a bottle of wine sent over. I thought that only happened on TV.

Greedy Diva said...

I had that cheese souffle over a year ago and I still remember every luscious mouthful. So memorable. That's what you pay for.

Gail said...

That cheese puddle looks fabulous - not the soufflé, which I'm sure is amazing, but on the top right of the plate on the cheese course??

Nordic Nibbler said...

I went a couple of years ago and also remember the sublime soufflé suissesse. I felt the rest though was a bit dated. Still, for old school French cuisine with a slightly more modern twist, it's pretty good.

@Kavey: For what it's worth, I'd rather spend my money at The Square or The Ledbury

Unknown said...

Wow sounds amazing but am interested in what the bill came to and how it all works - did you have degustation or a la carte? Very jealous of that souffle.

Unknown said...

Wow sounds amazing but am interested in what the bill came to and how it all works - did you have degustation or a la carte? Very jealous of that souffle.

PDH said...

Wow... I'd love to eat here, am very jealous you got it on the blag... This looks fantastic and I love that you were sent a bottle of wine! Good work all round!

eatmynels said...

Is it true about the amazing table decor made out of cutlery?

Ute@HungryinLondon said...

what an amazing experience! i clearly have the wrong credit card.

Hollow Legs said...

Kavey - I really enjoyed it, but it doesn't knock my favourite (The Ledbury) from top place.

Patrick - I know! I thought so too.

Greedy Diva - Absolutely. That is one dish I won't forget.

Gail - I wish I could remember what that puddle was!

Nordic Nibbler - It is pretty old school, but I was expecting that.

GC - I don't think we'd have 8 courses from the a la carte! I don't know how much it cost; menus had no prices and we didn't get a bill.

Pavel - Couldn't believe our luck really. The wine was pretty hilarious!

eatmynels - Not sure about cutlery; there were big silver animal-shaped table ornaments. Ours was a pelican.

Ute - Indeed! I'm not even eligible for an American Express. Boo hoo.

Joshua said...

I've been losing interest in high end food for a while now but that does look and sound a damn tasty meal.

I think Michel came across really well on Masterchef professional too so if I was going to give anyone a comedy amount of money for a meal I'd be happy for it to be him.

Phil Letts said...

They do an excellent value lunch menu (£40ish including half bottle of wine) if cost is a concern. One of the best value lunches I've had in London, given the mind-boggling quality.

tori said...

"Like biting into a cheesy cloud" love the sound of it and the way you describe it. Sounds like somewhere worth adding to the Special Occasion Dining list- if only for that souffle.

Chris Pople said...

It does actually look worth the money they're asking for it, so that marks it apart from certain other multi-Michelin-starred joints in London at least. The soufflé sounds ace.

Helen B said...

The soufflee is the stuff that dreams are made on...simply one of the best things I have ever put in my mouth.

Echo the comment about the lunch deal - it's £48 including half a bottle of wine. Given the amount of amuses bouches you get and the quality of the food, great value.

S Lloyd said...

Amazing review.
Question to you: have you dined at L'Autre Pied in London, yet? If Yes, how would you compare both in terms of food solely (I know Gavroche has a more luxurious feel, but what about the food?)

LexEat! said...

I couldn't finish the souffle when I had it as part of the degustation menu. I thought the food was excellent, but also (like Nordic Nibbler) found the space a bit dated. The service was over the top but failed on basics such as filling up water and replenishing the loo paper.
I was with a big group though and wished I had gone there with a smaller group.
Looks like the food is still top notch!

Niall said...

You shouldn't compare Le Gavroche to L'Autre Pied, you should compare it to Pied a Terre. In which case, Pied a Terre comes out on top IMO. It's a less opulent restaurant (I seem to remember us being the only ones under 50 at Le Gavroche, and probably the only ones who had day jobs). But the food and wine matchings at Pied a Terre are a step above.

You won't have a bad night at either of them, but if you're considering splurging at L'Autre Pied, I'd say consider splurging at Pied a Terre instead.

And don't try to go out the front for a smoke before desert ;)

S Lloyd said...

Thanks Niall. Agree with you: Gavroche and L'Autre Pied are not to be compared. Thanks for the tip regarding the desert.

Jonathan said...

Souffle looks the business. I love how unashamedly rich this meal is in every single way. True decadence.

Alex C said...

A family favourite of old, their lunch deal is the best value in London. Never had their Cheese Souffle - though - looks fantastic.

I'm fairly sure that the cheese puddle is their triple creme vacherin, for which they are rightly famous. It was the first gooey cheese I ever enjoyed.

A top tip there is to realise that it's incredible value when compared to rented office space. When my sister was running a tiny business with no offices they worked out that they could entertain around 6 people in the Gav for the same price as renting Regis meeting rooms for less money.

They did it so regularly that Michel Roux made her a christmas pudding in gratitude. It was - as you might expect - heavenly.

PheasantPlucker said...

as far as experience goes it's first class. you're right not the best food in the world but in terms of experience it has to be done...Boy are the portions big!!