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Wilfrid

Le Gavroche - The Topic

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Self to daughter this morning:

"What would you like to do for your birthday on Thursday, darling?"

Daughter:

"I would like to have lunch at Le Gavroche, please, daddy."

She is five. Five. What have we done to deserve this?

Ok, took her to Texture instead, and were very well looked after - will write up the meal on the relevant thread.

While the set lunch at Le Gavroche is amazing value for adults, I thought they overcharged badly for the children when we went six months ago - their meals cost more per head than ours...

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Really looking forward to lunch at Le Gav on March 12th - booked it in mid-Jan and was told this was first lunch slot available. Really?!

Just realised that this could be cunningly disguised as an "early" Mothering Sunday lunch :-)

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Lunch at Le Gavroche

It is more or less a year since my first and last visit to Le Gavroche. It costs £49.60 at lunch for three courses with wine, water and coffee. A bargain. I was unsure where to go on a Monday but I think I chose well.

We ate

Veal belly with herb risotto

Mackerel with aubergine compote and parsley coulis

Roast chicken breast with shallot jus and fondant potatoes. Possibly the best roast chicken I have eaten.

Venison fillet with spinach and mashed potatoes and a remarkable bitter chocolate sauce. This came from the full menu but no supplement was charged.

We shared cheeses and followed this with apple charlotte with calvados ice cream.

In addition to the food ordered we also ate a duo of canapés one being celeriac remoulade in pastry and the other I can’t recall. There was also an amuse of rabbit terrine with some dressed leaves and petit fours to go with double espressos.

The food was all very good. The portions were generous. The quality and flavours superb.

Ws shared half a bottle of Vondeling from South Africa and half of Moulin A Vent.

Service was great – Michel said hello to each table. A nice touch.

I believe that they are fully booked until they close for Christmas holidays.


Martin

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My wife & I were fairly regular diners here for many years but for the last couple of years we have been unable to book a lunch-time table on a Friday. Indeed we got an email last week saying they're fully booked for Friday lunches till Christmas. So they must be doing something right!

However, last time we ate there (about 3 years ago) was in the evening at someone else's expense. From the start, it wasn't great - four of us were put around a small table with the surface entirely covered with glasses, chargers, cutlery and so nowhere to put our drinks.

Then, we couldn't have the tasting menu because they couldn't cope with the vegetarian in the party not taking the same menu.

What we were finally served was frankly uninspired. I know they can do better but that's why we didn't go for a while... and now we like to, we can't get in.

Oh Well!

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It seems fitting, especially since Michel Roux is currently on TV with his front of house trainees, to visit Le Gavroche again. Not that we are at all regulars, far from it. We have only been the once, and a long time ago, when Albert (Michel's dad) was in charge.

Getting a table has always been a problem, perhaps that is part of the reason for leaving it so very long to make a return.

Reservations are still being taken (for lunch)two months in advance. We booked today. Still after all these years I think that we can wait that long.

As a further matter of interest I love the website especially the video with the restaurant and kitchen walk through.

Its here

Anyone else been recently?

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We had lunch at Le Gavroche last month and the service was impeccable. The lunch deal itself was excellent value - I especially commend the generosity - we were offered more bottled water and several rounds of coffee and not charged extra. All four of us were extremely positive about the overall experience.

The food itself was a bit disappointing. One of us ordered Jersusalem artichoke veloute as the starter and did not like it. Out of curiosity, I tried some and found it not partuclarly tasty either. I think I understand what the chef was trying to do i.e not add so much cream that the j.artichoke flavour was masked, but I think they got the balance and seasoning slightly wrong. However, the wait staff noticed that my friend was not eating her soup and we had the maitre'd come up to enquire. He immedietly offered to send a replacement starter (a rabbit terrine), which was v.gratefully received. Michel came out to enquire as well and was told by my friend that she did not approve of the veloute and that it was too thin - it was enjoyable to watch Michel react to this critique, which he managed to do gracefully. From memory only the main dish (lamb) really stood out, the rest was a bit meh.

Considering that the lunch was not cheap and the food not that memorable, amazingly all four of us agreed that we would come again; probably for a special occassion.

BTW Heston was lunching there the day we went so the food cannot have been that meh.

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I'm almost ashamed to admit that it took us two decades to revisit Le Gavroche. Indeed one of the side tables in the restaurant displays photos of Albert and Michel Roux senior in their prime going about their everyday business of making people happy. Of course the Roux tradition carries on here in the form of charismatic Michel jnr who was on duty when we visited.

We arrived early, as we thought parking and motorway travel would be difficult. Nothing could be further from the truth. Parking especially was literally a very short walk away. Good job I booked a four hour slot (by phone) as we were in for a bit of a lunch marathon.

The dining room is special, with lots of great seating, and what caught my eye was the two banquettes a deux to the left at the bottom of the stairs. No other diners were in the room at the time so I asked our server where we were seated. It was at a pet hate table, looking into a wall, instead of the room. I asked to change it but was greeted with a slightly cold retort "all the tables have been allocated". Now I understand they must have lots of regulars and prime spots must be at premium but the response could have been handled with a bit more diplomacy. When I book a restaurant I always ask for a table looking into the room. As I booked two months in advance it is possible I suppose that I did not make the request, still I would have expected it to be handled better. Thankfully that was the only slip up service wise.

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I was grateful for a lone spotlight shining down on the table which just about gave sufficient light to take some half decent shots of the food without using flash. Not that I ever use flash of course. The room is however seductivly dark.

Some tasty canapes arrived, with an especially tasty crab one doing a highland fling in the mouth.

As you would expect, terrines and pates are a speciality here and our amuse was a most welcome bite.

Sorry to say the bread was not to my taste, which is most unusual, as I left most of it.

Risotto Aux Herbes, Vieux Jambon Et Coquille St-Jacques

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This was my wife's choice, and we both chose from the good value lunch deal @ £50 for three courses plus of course canapes, amuse, tea or coffee, petit fours, and half a bottle of water and half a bottle of wine. There was a three, three, three choice on the menu.

The dish was declared "very enjoyable".

Galentine De Volaille Au Foie Gras Et Pistaches

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Visually appealing and eating rather well I suspect this classic has made numerous visits to this menu, and why not say I.

Blanquette D' Agneau A La Menthe, Tagliolini Et Carrots A L'Ancienne

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My wife's dish, and simple, but incredibly morish. A terrific piece of Lamb, virtually evaporating in the mouth. So tasty in fact she even ate the flavoursome fatty bits on the periphery, which is a first for her. Another classic with top quality ingredients just treated with respect.

Foie De Veau Et Jus Agrum Panisse Et Echalotes Confites

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I admit that my French is poor, perhaps because I'm from an era when at school most thought that the world spoke English, so why should we bother. Clearly a Philistine attitude and I have made amends by at least trying to learn the language a little bit. I was heartened that the tables either side both asked the server for a menu translation. With the help of my wife we stumbled through and decifered most of the text. I'm admitting looking up "agrumes" which is citrus (fruit) and in this dish pink grapefruit and orange pieces are visable. The chick pea chips were interesting but the star of the show was the Calves Liver. I ate my way around the tranche with much relish until I reached the central two and a half by one and a half middle to encounter an unusually inedible membrane strew core. When the plates were collected I pointed this out to the waiter and the Maitre D came to the table to offer another dish. At first I declined as I had scoffed most of it. Anyway the resulting wait whilst another dish was sent out and consumed would have spoilt the flow of the meal.

Now after a short consideration I relented and opted for one of the starters Soup De Poissons Et Sa Garniture thinking that it was already to go, and it just needed serving with the "garniture". In this case crouton, gruyere? cheese and rouille.

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I lusted after this whilst first browsing the menu but decided on the Galentine instead, and was not disappointed. It whisked me off to the South of France in an instant. Big depth of flavour, tangy pungent rouille, stringy bits of cheese tickling the chin. All in all just what you could possibly expect from a bowl of fish soup.

Omlette Soufflee A La Rhubarbe Crumble Au Gingembre Et Creme Anglaise

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When this dish arrived at the table I was slightly surprised by the size and presentation. It was huge but not in the least bit pretty. A bit manly perhaps, but you know what they say about beauty?

Not my dish of course, but declared a winner nevertheless.

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Plateau De Fromages was my choice, and what a choice, a veritable feast for the eyes (and nose). For any cheese lover perhaps the epitome of boards. I don't normally take cheese but could not resist as I saw the trolly being wheeled to a nearby table. This was served with some toasted bread, homemade chutney and some celery stalks. This was quite a butch way to finish the meal, pretty much a meal in itself truth be told.

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Petit Fours were just ok, pretty standard really, perhaps we were expecting more.

As has been pointed out above, tea (moi) and coffee,- are replenished without extra cost which is to be admired of course.

Whilst this place has its share of Captains of Industry, underpaid MP's struggling by on their reduced expenses, and of course a struggling banker or three trying to come to terms with only a couple of million pound bonus, its comforting for little old us to be seated next to two wonderful couples out for a lunch treat.

To my right a couple of architects enjoying themselves. To my left a birthday treat made even more special with a birthday cake and a visit tableside by Michel Roux himself.

I'm a big fan of his, he sums up everything that is good about the hospitality industry. Slightly surprised to see him tableside in his whites, he explained to me that he works most services "unlike some chefs", said with a smile.

Well said that man.

And that is what sums Le Gavroche up. It is a treat, and its very special. Its for everyone to enjoy, and of course its not only about the food, but the whole package.

Take a camera, record the moment, they won't mind, but don't use flash, please.

All the above including an extra bottle of Evian and service charge £117.

Go on treat yourself. Life's too short.

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I love a bit of history so I searched and found the cookbook that I bought for my wife all those years ago. Its signed by me in Sept 1990 very close to our first visit.

I remembered what I ate Queues De Boeuf Enrubannees A L'Echalote.(Oxtail beribboned with vegetables and shallots) and bought the book so my wife could recreate the dish at home.

It was close, but it did not have the same depth of flavour compared with the original.

Still the memory of the original still exists.

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Unfortunately I have lost my notes and as the visit was a couple of weeks ago this will be a short summary.

Amazingly this was my first visit. I've tried to go a few times but it has always been fully booked. This was a lunchtime visit and we opted for the good value set lunch. For £52 you get 3 courses plus half a bottle of water and half a bottle of white per person. I wasn't paying so am not sure if it also inc coffee and petit fours.

We started with a glass of excellent champagne and these arrived with some good quality nibbles, nothing amazing but safe and good. The amusee was a smoked eel tempoura which had a good flavour and presentation. There was also a good selection of bread which was excellent. We weren't told which butter was salted so had to guess.

Onto what we ordered. You have a choice of three items for each course with no horrible supplements. My starter was excellent, a seafood 'stew' with black tabiocca. Brilliantly executed with real depth of flavour. My companion had a soup which she said was ok. I can't remember much about it about from some bitter jerusalem artichoke.

My main was a very average (and fatty) lamb. Once again I can't remember anything about the other main save it was declared 'average'

We both opted for cheese which was great. A really impressive trolley with a good quality mixture, something for all tastes all at their peak. One of the best I have seen.

The petit fours were ok and the bread good. We opted for half a bttle of white and half of red. Both were good, french, drinkable and good value considering the deal.

All in all good value but not that special (apart from my starter and the cheese). Michel Roux jnr was around and came over to say hello. A nice touch. However good vfm it was the main courses did nothing to persuade me to visit in the evening and spend £200 a head.

Andrew

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I just attempted to get a Monday lunch in late October here. Nothing until January reservations go live in October!


Martin

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