It's been two years since we last visited Le Gavroche and we are excited to return: it's hard not to be given the unique place that Le Gavroche holds in London restaurant history. Last time we very much enjoyed our meal but while it offered great, usually comforting food, we felt that some of London's newer two star restaurants were serving up more excitement on the plate with greater precision. We wonder on entering if we'll perceive things differently this time.
On entering, I also make my first blunder, I had neglected to wear a jacket and gentlemen are required to do so. There's no problem though as they politely produce one from behind the door for me to borrow for the duration of my visit.
There is in fact three of us for lunch today as we are joined by chef friend lending an extra set of taste buds and views into the mix. After some debate, we opted for the tasting menu which works out one of the cheaper ways to eat at Le Gavroche as both starters and mains from the a la carte are most often found in the range of £40 - £60 such that you're guaranteed a three figure per person bill for eating here almost regardless of how you order.
First out on the tasting menu, the constant in Le Gavroche line up over many years, is the Cheese Soufflé Cooked on Double Cream. We liked this last time, principally as an indulgence, but this time round, it worked less well. There was very little by way of a cheesey tang so the sweetness of the cream was uncontested while the soufflé was so unbelievably light, it was as ephemeral as a foam, and while that might seem perfection in a soufflé, the result was the feeling that all you were taking in here was the cream at the bottom.
We all agreed that the first course, the cheese soufflé and cream had been the weakest on this occasion but that the central courses of the menu were all exceptionally good with full flavours that showcased just how accomplished cooking at this level is when done right (even when that's the humble black pudding). What's more, we felt like they have pepped things up a little since our last visit with the food still of course classically based but certainly not old fashioned.
Michel Roux Jnr was there on our visit, in the kitchen, and later walking the floor talking to guests. With his TV career blossoming, we guess that's less common these days and we got lucky. Whether it makes any difference, who knows, but expectations around any visit to Le Gavroche always run high yet despite that, they were if anything exceeded. A celebrity chef, great food and twenty odd tables of London restaurant history, no wonder there's a waiting list.
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