Whenever you see crossed chives you are in trouble
Cookery Quote
We should all be eating less meat and better meat
Never eat anything bigger than your head

“I’ll just lie under the veranda and pant”

It’s hard to credit, but this year even if it rains steadily until October we will still have had a barbecue summer. The thermometer nudges its way to 30⁰ while the Government guidelines advise us to drink plenty and stay in the cool. Truth to tell a real, hot, old-fashioned summer comes along so infrequently that most of us are not sure how to tackle it. We all eat less, which could be construed as a good thing, but probably isn’t as cold beers, strawberries with clotted cream and snacking on crisps is no dietician’s dream ticket. In London, restaurateurs are finding that while the indoor tables are stuffy, blazing sunshine makes the outdoor ones untenable. Complaints on all sides.
This may be the year when we finally acknowledge that air conditioning has an important role to play. At lunch time Le Gavroche is pleasantly chilly and the customers do not object to the “jackets” rule. The “ties” rule has been relaxed and this week it was even possible to see Silvano Giraldin without a tie. What is the world coming to? Interestingly the dishes at Gavroche are on the menu because they are excellent rather than having been written to suit the weather. It’s much more sensible to change the climate in the dining room rather than struggling to alter what is listed on the menu. You get the impression that some of the dishes here are in the middle of a twenty year apprenticeship until they can finally be moved into the “much loved classics” category. The “Soufflé Suissesse” is just as delicious as ever; while a relalative newbie…. “Salade de poulpe
et crab frit, vinaigrette de tomate aigre-dolce” is very good indeed, marinated octopus, with a deep fried softshell crab and an implausibly light quenelle of tomato fluff. Another classic in waiting is the “Filet de maigre parfumé au Ras-el-Hanout, fenouille et riz rouge de Camargue” – stone bass, with a little cigar shaped pastilla on the side and wonderfully rich red rice and fennel. At Gavroche you can have suckling pig; or saddle of rabbit; or a roast duck; or “Filet de Veau Rossini”... bring on the foie gras, the truffle and the Madeira. This basement is home to what is probably the best cheeseboard in London - during an average lunch and dinner they get through 60 to 70 portions. That kind of take up means that the cheeseboard is always in perfect order. The Chef Patron is Michel A. Roux and Chef de Cuisine is Rachel Humphrey, the G.M. is Emmanuel Landré. They are all to be congratulated as they all help generate a feeling of élan. Half the lunchers will be tucking into the set menu and it is a measure of the professionalism front of house that you cannot tell who is paying £52.60 for the three course set lunch with half a bottle of wine and mineral water, or who might be going through the Carte where the starters run from £19.80 to £40.60 and the mains from £26.80 to £65.80! Everyone who appreciates a stellar bargain probably already has Le Gavroche’s number handy and the air-con means it is always a superbly comfortable place to eat whatever the weather may throw at us.

Le Gavroche, 43 Upper Brook Street, London W1K 7QR (020 7408 0881) le-gavroche.co.uk

Charles Campion - Friday 19th July 2013

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