We walked through the doors of the two Michelin starred Le Gavroche in Mayfair to be greeted by no-one – it felt like we had walked into an empty cupboard. After a minute of us awkwardly standing there a smartly dressed gentleman greeted us very apologetically and walked us through the bar then downstairs to the underground restaurant.
It was every bit as beautiful as I hoped it would be. It looked smart and sophisticated with Picassos hanging on the walls (not originals though like had been suggested on some other blogs I’ve read). A constant swirl of immaculately dressed staff glide around the tables like tadpoles in a rock pool. We were seated by the fire exit (hoorah we weren’t by the toilets!) and both had outward facing seats so had a good view of the restaurant – meaning we spent the duration of the evening staring at other people and looking at what they ordered.
Having been looking forward to this meal for quite some time (we had to book three months prior to coming) my gentleman companion and I had saved long and hard to order the tasting menu priced at a whopping £110 for 8 courses with coffee and petit fours.
A selection of bread kicked things off. These weren’t exactly life changing and our first offering was cold. The butters – salted balls and an un-salted slab were more exciting than what I was smearing it on.
The same could be said for the canapes. Unimaginative and dull are the words I would use to describe the little parmesan twist.
Our first dish was the famous Souffle Suissesse which is a cheese souffle cooked on double cream. As the waiter described the dish and joked that it was probably a thousand calories a mouthful I was hoping that this was going to be rich and hearty. If I’m going to eat something that will gain me a stone in weight I want to feel like I’ve had something naughty and indulgent. This souffle was however so light that it could have easily floated off the plate and out the fire exit next to us. The cheese on top was gooey and added some richness but I found the whole thing to be too light and virtuous. My gentleman companion woofed his down in a matter of seconds and hardly felt like he’d eaten anything afterwards.
Our female somelier was very sweet but talked so softly and at such a high pitch we never really heard what she was saying, we just politely nodded and smiled. Our main gentleman waiter was very charming. He told us he had been working at Le Gavroche for 9 years – and it was obvious he had. At one point we noticed our table was wobbly and before we even had a second to look up and call someone over he was there with a wedge to sort it out.
Marinated Var salmon with lemon and vodka jelly was next. Presentation was simple and elegant. The quality of the salmon was superb. The vodka jelly had an almighty thump of vodka flavour but was a miniscule cube on the plate which seemed ridiculous. This dish wasn’t particularly exciting.
Next up was stone bass and pastilla, scented with Arabian spices, fennel, red rice and meat jus. The pastilla (which is like a fancy spring roll) was delicious and the bass was cooked perfectly but the overall taste was an overbearing flavour of curry, which didn’t work for either of us. Again, not exciting.
Coquilles St. Jacques Grillees et Minestrone de Dalourdes translates to grilled scallops with a clam minestrone. This was our favourite dish as the scallop was divine and cooked perfectly. Maybe one more scallop would have been a little more generous – £110 remember.
Homemade black pudding , crumbled egg, crackling, asparagus salad and spicy tomato chutney was the first time we had been impressed by a dish that evening. It looked pretty and more technical than the others. After all we were in a two Michelin star restaurant that’s been around since the 60’s. The black pudding was rich and expertly made. The egg had a soft, gooey yolk that contrasted perfectly with the salty crunch of the crackling.
A trolley appeared at our table from which our waiter served the next dish. Grilled fillet of Scottish beef, wild mushrooms and red wine shallot sauce. Our waiter carved the meat in front of us. Even though this involved some theatre it failed to excite us. The fillet of beef was the tiniest I have ever seen and there were just two potatoes and a spoonful of mushrooms. This dinner was costing us £110. The ingredients were great quality but we were given WeightWatchers portions throughout. All the ingredients were cooked perfectly but by this point we could only sigh with disappointment. That was it, our main courses were over and we hadn’t had any fun, any excitement or any drama. We hadn’t muttered the word ‘wow’ once.
Next up was another trolley (that often rested outside the toilets which was a little disconcerting) filled with cheeses. The offerings were very impressive and we were given generous portions.
Dessert was a millefeuille (crispy layers of pastry) raspberries and praline flavoured chocolate. To pay £110 for a tasting menu and receive this insanely simple and bland dessert was an insult. The pastry was not light and crisp, instead it was dense and difficult to cut through. It was just so unimaginative and unexciting we were gobsmacked.
The dish of petit fours was brought out with the dessert and we were told to save them for the coffee, so they just sat there on our table rather pointlessly. They consisted of a tasteless and anaemic looking madeleine, a sugar coated physalis, a macaroon filled with the raspberry coulis that featured in our dessert (how uninventive) and a sesame and poppy seed tuile that was delicious.
Our charming male waiter then offered us a tour of the kitchen which was fascinating. There were so many chefs and the kitchen was huge. There were only two chefs in the dessert section which perhaps explains the weak pudding. Every member of the kitchen smiled at us and said hello and a few even shook our hands which was a nice touch.
As we sat back down at our table and drank our coffee – offered with cream or milk – we could only feel disappointed with the value for money on our visit to Le Gavroche. There was no flair or flamboyance that we had hoped for when ordering a tasting menu. The restaurant is undoubtedly stunning and some serious money has been spent on the branded cutlery and dishes. If you love eating out in London then dining here is a must as it has such character and heritage but I’d suggest coming for lunch – which is A LOT cheaper.
Only just 6/10