The rain is coming down, so it’s into a taxi. The driver hardly able to understand why we are willing to pay to go as far as a 10 minute walk. I explain my Wife’s newly quaffed hair and he laughs understandingly, obviously a married man himself. We arrive outside the restaurant, a very smartly dressed lady open the door to us, letting us in from the cold & wet. It’s just a door, no grandeur, a small cloakroom and we give our name. We’re shown straight downstairs to our table, through the bar which is decorated a deep red, Christmas decorations up mainly in green with red berries. A real Christmas tree on the stars with red gleaming lights leads us downstairs. Our table for two is set between two other small tables and the sight that greats us is Michel Roux Jnr’s caricature on a plate smiling at us. There’s no pretentiousness, the staff treat us the same as all other diners.
We are also greeted by a frog, sticking his tongue out at as cheekily. Le Gavroche put a sculpture on every table, made from cutlery, they stand there watching you and ensuring you are having a good time. My wife sits on the bench seat looking out across the restaurant as I watch the show through the mirror behind her. It is watching this that I truly understand why the theatre remark is made. Each member of staff taking their part, the waiters working together, arriving at your table to serve both of us together as each act of food is presented.
My wife peruses her menu which has no prices on it, mine showing me exactly how much everything is, a worried look crossing my face at times with some of her choices. We decide on the food and wine, a Pouilly Fume which is one of my favourite white wines when budget allows. Our starters arrive, Ballotine of Froi Gras rolled in gingerbread with prune & fig steeped in brandy and wafer thin ginger biscuits. Chicken salad for me with crispy skins, oysters and pickled mushrooms. We sit in silence, unable to speak as the food does all the talking by making you want to take another mouthful. I have tried making Michel Roux’s ickled mushrooms and they were very nice, here at Le Gavroche, they were on another level.If my mushrooms were the 1st floor rooms, Michel Roux’s were the penthouse.
There is plenty of time between starter and main course, almost making the anticipation unbearable. Now having tasted our starters and appetizers I am craving more food, my mouth is going on its own journey, my mind still wondering how chicken can taste that good. My wife notices I am not talking a lot as I am still mesmerised by the mirror and watching the events unfolding behind me. You can hear lots of comments about the food, people gasping, asking what was in the dish, wanting to know how Chef makes the dish.
Main courses arrive, two plates put in front of us, silver plate covers on them and the next act begins. The lids are raised as if they are the curtains opening. My wife opted for roast suckling pig with crackling, peppered sauce with golden raisins and shalots confit, a meal that is on the menu for a minimum of two people only she didn’t read that part. However the waiter said he would speak to Chef and it would be no problem. So there it was, a one portion of a two portion meal and no they didn’t charge us the full price for it. I had gone for roast saddle of rabbit with crispy potatoes and parmesan presented in a tower. The potatoes were made like they had been put through a spaghetti maker, then twirled into discs. Each mouthful was a delight, soft tender meat mixed in with crispy fired potato and then the cut of the parmesan.
Now we get to the best part which is strange for me as I am known not to be a desert man. I just couldn’t decide and went for the Chef’s selection while my wife had caramel mousse with pear, ice cream and as you can see a candle and birthday message. I had rung ahead to the restaurant to let them know we were celebrating her birthday and I didn’t have to mention it once we were there. They just arranged the rest. It really made her night and for a few seconds, took her eyes off my plate. The assortment was shortbread with fresh raspberries, a shortbread basket with vanilla ice cream, what looked like a profiterole filled with cream and rum and boy was it filled with rum. Then I had a mousse with passion fruit coulis on top which was sharp and then fresh with the mousse underneath. Fifth desert they showcased at the Taste of London this summer, a bitter chocolate and praline indulgence with real gold leaf on top. The final taster on the plate was a chocolate mousse type desert with what I would call fizz whizz or moon dust, basically popping candy. A desert that not only tastes of the best chocolate in the world, it also takes you back to your childhood. A fun and extremely tasty desert.
After coffee we decided to have an after dinner drink in the lounge as I needed to sit back and relax a bit, my stomach wondering if it can stretch any further. We sat back, enjoyed what I think is the best tawny port I have ever had, smooth and smokey. My wife savoured her Le Gavroche Armagnac 1987. She was also saying that it’s the best she has ever had. We asked for the bill, almost reluctant to leave after three hours, and noticed that the after dinner drinks were not on there. It’s one of those moments as to what to do. Well we were honest mainly because we had enjoyed the night so much. The waiter smiled, thanked us and told us there would be nothing added to the bill, effectively the drinks were on the house. We departed with a smile, feeling full and mouths still somewhere else, probably downstairs in the restaurant. We look out the door and the rain has abated so we can make the short walk to the hotel. The door is opened and we walk onto the street, the curtain comes down and the show is over.
The whole experience is hard to describe and is something I would advise you all to do for yourself, even if you have to save up for it for a year or more. I do now face some problems after going to Le Gavroche……… where do you go from there? How do you beat it for a gastronomic experience? I will be sure to let you know when I find the answers.