Restaurant review: Le Gavroche, London
We always know when we’re on for a good GLC when the meeting time for the pre-meal pint gets earlier and earlier. However this pre-meal excitement was nearly extinguished by the following exchange at Henry’s Bar.
GR to PC: Brilliant! They’ve got German pilsner on tap, shall we get some?
PC to GR: Absolutely!
GR to Barman: Two pints please [Holding £10]
Barman to GR: That’ll be another 10p [Barman holds his hand out expectantly]
GR to PC: Shall we go after these?
PC to GR: Absolutely!
Who thought £5.05 was a good price for a pint of beer? The Bar Manager of Henry’s Bar must be extremely mean-spirited or is operating on a micro-margin. Either way he can’t have thought about the operational impact and opportunity cost of the Barman changing a £10 note for £9.90 change in a packed bar.
Not being deterred by this superficial setback we departed for Le Gavroche. One useful tip for Le Gavroche is to remember it’s a jacketed restaurant and while jackets are available for those who don’t read the website correctly, Jermyn Street tailoring they are not.
First impressions of Le Gavroche were good. The front of the Mayfair restaurant was suitably glamorous and the hostess was welcoming. The ground floor bar was a mixture of deep colours with a slightly dated, traditional feel that continued downstairs into the basement restaurant that was full of tables and booths. The table service started with some mild confusion with the only menu with prices being handed to myself (I booked the table). However once that menu had been passed around, the selections could begin.
Of the starters, the grilled scallops with carrots and the langoustines with glazed snails were the highlights. The detail that went into the dishes needs to be seen to be believed and was well worth the slightly intimidating £20+ price tag.
For mains, we were less adventurous and all four of us went for the roast suckling pig with crackling, peppered sauce, golden raisins and confit shallots which is a dish shared between two. The pig was served by a mêlée of staff all carving and preparing to the side of the table on a rickety looking wooden trolley, and on first impressions the plate looked a little sparse. However, after the first bite it was clear this was no ordinary dish. The meat melted in the mouth and the flavour was wonderfully full and delicate at the same time. Definitely a meal to be savoured.
At this point we remembered the price list and ignoring the formidable lure of the cheese board (cunningly positioned near the toilets) we requested the bill, which came in at a surprisingly modest £470. So for a GLC first we sent the bill back and requested four cheese boards and a bottle of port. An additional £140 later, we were left feeling suitably satisfied by the flavoursome selection of French cheeses we couldn’t pronounce, and set off for our post-meal beer.
Overall Le Gavroche is a wonderful experience and the food is exceptional, far better than most top London restaurants. Also rumour has it Michel spends a lot of time at Le Gavroche as opposed to putting his name to a restaurant and kicking back, and true to form he appeared from the kitchen mid-meal and introduced himself to the tables individually. Not only is he a staggeringly talented chef, he’s a thoroughly nice man who topped off a fantastic night!
Le Gavroche, Michel Roux
34 Upper Brook Street
020 7408 0881