I had a very good meal at the Gavroche last year, and as part of my friend’s visit to London, a visit here was arranged. We got lucky and secured a lunch table two weeks prior to the date, which I didn’t expect. Upon arriving we were warmly greeted, and had quite a lunch before us. In fact, none of us expected such a good meal to be produced here. Service was great and incredibly relaxed. We were allowed to compose our own little tasting menu, simply by sharing a number of dishes. This way we had the opportunity to try a number of interesting dishes, from the menu, which read incredibly well I must say.
Wine-wise we settled with a half bottle of Guigal’s Condrieu, then had a glass of Chateau “La Croix St Georges” and to finish some Sauternes, whose name escapes me. I didn’t write the vintages down either, but the wines were all very pleasant.
To start, a whipped cream cheese quenelle with herbs was served on toast, not exactly very interesting, but you can eat it. Next to it was a tart with celery remoulade. This was a little heavy for me, but otherwise good.
The amuse itself was a smoked eel with carrot salad. Now, this was similar to what I had last time, and was pleasant again. Good.
But, things started to kick off seriously with the first starter. A tartine of calve’s head with a herb salad was a straight 3* dish for both of us. Masterfully prepared, this dish was quite clever in its composition. The bread was just there to support the creamy, richly flavoured calve’s head, and add some crunch to the preparation. The salad gave the whole thing the fresh note one needs in such a plate. I love this kind of cooking, and when it’s done this well, you can hardly be anything but tremendously happy. Excellent.
The second starter was a signature dish of the house: Langoustine and snail gratin. Simple, featuring a spinach puree (?), a large snail and some small langoustine tails, this dish is as classical as it gets nowadays. That means that it is also immensely satisfying to eat, as it is decadently rich and strongly flavoured. It would have been another perfect 3* dish, had it not been for the slight overcooking of the langoustines, which weren’t exactly of the same quality as those to be had in the Square, but were still of good quality. So, apart from the overcooking of the langoustine, this dish was another winner. Very good.
However, the dish of the day was about to come: artichaut et foie gras “Lucullus”. Another classic, this dish was a textbook rendition of one of the great French dishes. One could eat this for instance at Eugenie Brazier’s two 3* eateries in the first half of the last century, so to see it here, spiked my curiosity. And thankfully I ordered it. It was glorious. The artichoke was filled with a slice of foie gras, some truffles and hen wrapped in chicken mousse, which was also studded with truffles. The whole thing was sauced with a truffle jus, and then one was in heaven. Texturally, taste-wise and visually, this was pure pleasure. Outstanding.
As a main course, we shared the Bresse pigeon with a nut crust, and date puree. This was also very good, faultless in fact, but not quite at the same level as some other pigeon dishes, hence less special in the overall context of the meal. Very good to excellent.
As cheese, we had the famous soufflé, which was just as good as I had hoped it would be. Incredibly rich, very ugly, but simply great fun to eat, this really isn’t bad at all. No pic, as it was incredibly hard to focus on this white creature in the dark room.
Having ordered the l’assiette du chef, which was described to us as an assortiment of 7 different desserts, we thought that it would be enough, foolishly we did think it was. It seemed more like mignardises, rather than a collection of desserts. They were rather good, but some merely seemed like the sad little banquet bites one finds here and there on receptions and the like. Hhhhhmmm…
To rectify that problem, we played it safe with a classic, and had a portion of the omelette soufflé Rothschild. This was great. Texturally it seems to be close to a very airy and light soufflé, which is then drowned in abricot sauce. Very fresh and tasty, this was a good way to end the meal. Very good.
A bit of ice cream made the thing perfect.
I was impressed with this meal, really impressed. Products were of very good quality, cooking was interesting, and very good technically, and overall the dishes were excellent. Some even stood out as being very close to perfect. I will hope to be back here at some point in the not so distant future, as one has a very complete experience here with outstandingly good and joyful service, and very good classic food.