When I visited: 2013
Location: London, Mayfair
Team: Michel Roux (owner), Rachel Humphrey (Executive Chef), Diego Ferrari (Head Chef), Emmanuel Landre (General Manager), Ursula and Silvia Perberschlager (Assistant Managers), David Galetti (Head Sommelier)
Rating in the Michelin Guide: 2 stars
What to wear: Men – smart trousers and shirt; women – smart dress
Ambience: Smart, in a basement, formal
Course of the meal: Crispy Filo Tart with Pears and Salted Butter Caramel Sauce, Vanilla Ice Cream
If I could change one thing: More charm
Le Gavroche is one of the most famous Michelin restaurants in the UK and also one of the most typical in terms of what a lot of people expect from Michelins: it’s full-on, French, pricey, formal, and could do with a charm injection. It also has a strong hierarchy within its staff, with some waiting staff having ‘non-speaking’ parts and some allowed to speak to you and introduce the courses. However, the food is undoubtedly of a great quality and it’s a good choice for dates.
I visited on a date one Friday evening (it’s hard to get into this restaurant due to the fact you really have to phone up to 3 months in advance) and we had the Menu Exceptionnel.
The menu began with a double helping of French food to the max – Souffle Suissesse (cheese souffle cooked on double cream) and parfait de foie gras et gelee “minus 8” radis et grenadine (foie gras and confit carrot layers, ice wine vinegar jelly, pomegranate and radish).
We then moved on to fish and snails, with the filet de maigre parfume au ras-el-hanout fenouil et riz rouge de carmague (stone bass and pastille, scented with Arabian spices, fennel, red rice and meat jus), then gratin de langoustines et escargot au persil et piment d’espelette (langoustines and Hereford snail in a light Hollandaise sauce flavoured with Basque pepper and parsley). I am not the biggest fan of snails but restaurants of this quality do cook them well.
We had two more ‘main’ courses – boudin noir, oeuf fit et chutney de tomate epicee (black pudding, crumbed egg, crackling and spicy tomato chutney) and filet de boeuf roti, gateau savoyard au pommel de terre et puree d’epinard (roast fillet of Galloway beef, potato cake with bacon and red wine sauce).
The courses at this restaurant are substantial evening in a ‘tasting’-type menu like this so I was pretty full at this point. I’m also not a huge fan of cheese, so was unsure about partaking in ‘le plateau de fromages affines’ (selection of French and British farmhouse cheese). However, the waitress did a great job in selecting cheese for me that I actually liked and weren’t too heavy.
The dessert section consisted of croustillant de poires caramelisees, sauce caramel au beurre sale, glace vanille bourbon (crispy filo tart with pears and salted butter caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream) followed by coffee/tea and petits fours.
Overall, although the food is great, I didn’t enjoy the experience here as much as other two-star restaurants I’ve been too. Maybe it’s just my personal taste, but I didn’t find it as fun.