Sometimes you really want to splurge and go all out. For this occasion, it was my partner’s birthday. I gave him a voucher for the tasting menu and wine pairings (x2 because I’m coming along too) at Le Gavroche, Michel Roux Jr.’s two-Michelin star restaurant. After seeing him on Masterchef and countless other tv shows, I decided we needed to give the restaurant a try. Plus I had done my cooking course with Monica earlier in the year (although by the time we got to the restaurant, she had moved on and is apparently starting her own venture that should be open sometime in 2016). He finally decided we should go in late January, and we paired it up with seeing a matinee of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime.
When we arrived, we were shown through the bar, down the stairs and directly to our table. We had no idea there was a bar, we may have come a bit early if we did. As we were sitting down and getting comfortable, Michel came to our table and greeted us which was a pleasant surprise. Unfortunately, I was a bit overwhelmed with just arriving, so we didn’t get to say a whole lot, and he didn’t come back to the table, but it was still nice to know he was at the restaurant (and it seemed like he was working on a menu for a private function with the table behind us). As we had the voucher, we already knew in advance that we were having the tasting menu, so the waiter brought us the tasting menu and wine pairings for the night. It was printed up on a smaller card to keep at the table (and we were allowed to take it home), so it made it easier to see what we were having without having to have a large menu at the table. Also Gavroche was everywhere. In case you don’t know, he’s the boy from Victor Hugo’s masterpiece Les Miserables.
Our meal started with a couple of snacks: A barbecue drumstick and a foie gras tart. Both of them were extremely tasty and very well cooked. This segued into the first course: A cheese souffle. The cheese in it was really rich and decadent, but the souffle was incredibly light; almost like a savory meringue. We were both really impressed, and we used our bread to mop up the remnants of the sauce. The butter for the bread was even served on tiny ceramic tables (which are things I didn’t know I needed until dining here). There was one for salted butter and one for unsalted butter balls. I never knew I needed butter baller until now either.
Next came the venison carpaccio. It was served with some pickled vegetables, horseradish cream and some rye bread. I loved every bite of it. It had a nice combination of textures and flavors. And up until the point, the pairings had gone extremely well with the courses. Over the course of the meal, we were presented with an interesting selection of wines, some of which we had never had before, which is always a good thing. The scallops were really well cooked, but the fish course really sung for me. The north African inspired spices went really well with the bass, and the fish was cooked perfectly. Any fish course that I rave about, is something as fish courses I often find quite lacking.
The following course was homemade black pudding. I love black pudding and this course really sang for me. I really enjoyed the flavor of the pudding, but the crispy mushroom ravioli that went with it really brought a new texture and a powerful umami taste. It was a winning dish for me. Then came partridge. It was the third partridge dish I’d had in the span of two weeks, and it was probably my second favorite of the dishes. The leg was probably my favorite part as it was full of flavor and very tender.
Next came the cheese trolley. And what a trolley it was! There were probably 30+ cheeses on the thing, and we were limited to choosing 4! My partner got a bit cheeky and asked for a small sliver of fifth cheese, but they ended up giving him a massive selection of it. I went for a goat’s cheese that was really intense, a blue cheese that was tasty but could have been more intense, an aged cheddar and a washed cheese similar to Epoisses. All of them were really good.
Last came dessert. We had a chocolate and pistachio cake. It was absolutely amazing and a great way to end the meal. The cake was moist, and it has a big burst of pistachio flavor. The chocolate was a great pairing for it. The only downside was the dessert wine. We had a Banyuls, and we love them. This one was less good than others, but it’s always great to have a red dessert wine that isn’t port. It wasn’t bad, but just after the stellar pairings we had through the course of the night, it was the only weak link in the selection. We did opt to try some of the house Armagnac (and my husband decided he needed to bring a bottle home with us).
After dinner, we asked to see the kitchen. We got to go back and see it, and the kitchen is absolutely massive. We even got to chat a bit with the new head chef: Rachel Humphrey. She seemed really down to earth and passionate about working there. I think there is really only one word to sum up the evening: Special. (Which we were reminded about in the Tube on the way home.) The food was really spectacular with amazing wines to go with. The service was spot-on, and they really made us feel welcome from start to finish. If you’re looking for a place to celebrate a special occasion, or just to celebrate life, Le Gavroche should be a place to consider!
42 Upper Brook Street, W1K 7QR