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Wednesday, 13 August 2014

50 B4 50-La Gavroche

Le Gavroche

At last we were to visit a restaurant we had wanted to dine in for many years. 

Having booked several months in advanced my wife, our hollow legged friends J&S and me arrived at at Waterloo. J. was feeling a little under the weather, but the poor little soldier soon perked up after a quick pre-dinner drink in The Cabin before we took a taxi ride to Mayfair for the experience to start.

We had a friendly greeting as the door was opened for us, then we were taken through the plush bar, and down the stairs to the restaurant. The sumptuous dining room has a classical decoration with deep reds and golds.

The tables are well spaced and elaborately decorated with a silver table centre piece, 'Le Gavroche' moulded into the cutlery and fine china. (We were to discover that 'Le Gavroche' was the young street urchin from Les Miserables) The chairs were large and comfortable, just perfect for the four hours we were about to spend there.

Le Gavroche has become an iconic dining venue since it opened in 1967, and in 1974 attained its first Michelin Star, in 1977 it achieved its second. In 1982 it was the first Restaurant in Britain to received the maximum 3 Michelin Stars. In 2004 it reverted to 2 Michelin Stars, and a host of other awards have continued almost annually.

To get the full Le Gavroche experience we decided to have the nine course Menu Exceptionnel. Before the meal began, we were brought a selection of breads to choose from, along with some canapés.

Being a wine buff, J. was give control of the wine list. A slightly dangerous move, as it was quite possible the drink bill could have been four or five times the food! He sat with a warm satisfaction as he read the substantial wine list for about fifteen minutes. We just ignored him as he mused about his memories or knowledge of this vineyard and that. Having ordered a bottle of red, one white, a half bottle of port and some dessert wine he returned to conversation around the table, and we were to later discover that he chosen well, and that we did not have to pawn any jewellery or heirlooms to cover the bill. 

We started our extravagant meal with the 'Le Gavroche signature dish'; the Soufflé Suissesse. What a delight! The cheese soufflé was double baked in double cream, lighter than air, fluffy and an explosion of cheese-fest flavour. It would take something simply amazing for any starter to beat this.

Next came the foie gras terrine, soon to be followed by the delicious Seared Langoustines in a Pea and Spring Onion sauce.

As we sat chatting, my wife slowly slipped from her chair to the floor. It was then we realised Michel Roux was visiting our table for a chat. My wife & S. became all starry eyed as they babbled asking for a selfie. I of course, being part French, engaged Michel in conversation in our native tongue. It must have been some time since he was in France, as he did not appear to understand what I was saying.

The dishes just kept coming, but somehow they managed to space the courses perfectly for us to all chat and digest this marathon feast.

Next we had Stone Bass with Arabian Spices, Red Rice and Meat Jus. As a fish dish it was pretty 'meaty' with lots of flavours going on. 

click image to enlarge
The service was relaxed and ultra efficient. All of our wines has been decanted after the bottle shown to and tasted by J. at the table. From then on, each glass was never empty as an invisible ninja appeared to ensure constant refills. The same ninja tactics somehow constantly replaced the cutlery without being noticed.

Still feeling very content, the two meat courses were to follow next. The Braised and Smoked Pork Cheek, Crispy Belly Ravioli with Red Cabbage Condiment also had a piece of crispy pig's ear crackling. Not one for the vegetarians, but a joy for carnivores who like to eat fat in various ways. 

The only course that did not blow me away was the Squab Pigeon with Corn Waffle and Sweet Blackcurrant Sauce. The only reason being, I not a big one for rare meats, everyone else was very happy though.

As is par for the course with J&S, the nonsense content in our conversations significantly increased relative to the alcoholic intake. True to form, we were now talking a good deal of rubbish.

The cheese trolley then trundled its way to our table, laden with a vast array of the delicious cow and goats products. What to choose was almost impossible as the waiter went through the soft, hard, blue and smelly selection. The cheeses were served with melba toast, chutney and a tasty quince jelly. The port accompaniment made everything in the world perfect at that moment.

A perfect meal of course always ends in chocolate, and if things go well, I also get my wife's (as it is too sweet, she's too full, watching her weight etc, etc.) The Bitter Chocolate Truffle, Sorbet and Cherries was an ideal end to an fabulous meal. My enjoyment was slightly hindered as I spotted my wife moving her spoon to her dish. Thankfully though our perfect day out was not spoiled, as she tried a small bit and then passed her plate to me.

After coffee & petit fours, we made our way around the corner to the Red Bar in the Grosvenor House Hotel for a final drink before the train home.

As we chatted, we all agreed that Le Gavroche had proved well worth the wait to experience. Only trouble is, we will all need to substantially replenish our wallets before we can make the next visit we would all like! 

Menu Exceptionnel
  • Soufflé Suissesse (Cheese Souffle Cooked on Double Cream)
  • Terrine Marbree de Foie Gras aux Epices, Gelee au Madere et Croque aux Champignons (Spice Crusted Foie Gras Terrine, Madeira Jelly and Mushroom Toast)
  • Langoustines Poelees, Petits Pois, Cebette et Jambon de Bayonne (Seared Langoustines with Peas, Spring Onions and Air Dried Bayonne Ham)
  • Filet de Maigre Parfume au Ras-el-Hanout Fenouil et Riz Rouge de Camargue (Stone Bass and Pastilla scented with Arabian Spices, Fennel, Red Rice and Meat Jus
  • Joue de Porc Braisee et Fumee, Cromesquis de Couennes (Braised and Smoked Pork Cheek, Crispy Belly Ravioli, Red Cabbage Condiment)
  • Supreme de Pigeon, Gaufres au Mais et Sauce aux Cassis (Squab Pigeon, Kohnrabi, Chantenay Carrot, Corn Waffle and Sweet Blackcurrant Sauce)
  • Le Plateau de Fromages Affines (Selection of French and British Farmhouse Cheese)
  • Truffle Chocolate or Noir et Sorbet, Cerise Pochees et a l’Eau de Vie (Bitter Chocolate Truffle, Sorbet and Cherries)
  • Café et Petits Fours

La Gavroche



Michelin Stars Collected So Far: 36

3 Michelin Star
London: Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester
Berkshire-Bray: The Waterside Inn

2 Michelin Star
London: La Gavroche, Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, Hibiscus, Pied a Terre
Berkshire: The Latymer (Penny Hill Park Hotel),
Buckinghamshire: Hand & Flowers (*3 Times!)
France-Paris: Georges V Hotel

1 Michelin Star
London: Benares, L’Autre Pied, Quilon, Social Eating House (*Twice!), Veeraswamy, The Savoy Grill, L’Escargot
Hampshire: Terrace Restaurant (Montague Arms), Vetiver (Chewton Glen Hotel), JSW.
Sussex: Ockenden Manor

*To read the review on any of the above restaurants, put 'restaurant name' in this blog's search box.

No Michelin Stars, but restaurants visited since July 2013 that are worth a mention:

Milford on Sea | Verveine Fishmarket
London | Franco's
Milford on Sea | La Perle -
Mudeford | The Jetty -
Yarmouth, IoW | The George -
London | Dishoom -
London | J Sheeky Oyster Bar -
Lymington | The Elderflower -
London | The Ivy -
Lymington | The Haven -
Devon | River Cottage HQ - 

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