Tuesday 5 July 2011

Dinner at Gauthier

I have been trying to write this post for the last couple of days, but things do not always go to plan - just like Saturday evening did not quite go to plan. Missy decided to take ages to fall asleep, so she was still awake by the time we left. This made me feel a little stressed (no reflection on her granny, just my own controlling issues!). I tried to calm myself in the cab fairly successfully, until the driver decided to take us via Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly! On a Saturday night! Sat navs are great, but they do get in the way of people thinking logically some times! To add to it all, we had, once again, forgotten that it was Pride London and we were heading to a restaurant in Soho! We did the same for a past anniversary when we went to Arbutus in Soho, but we somehow managed to forget AGAIN! Long story short: we were late!

In any case, we arrived at the entrance of Gauthier amongst the very loud music and bright fashion and rang the doorbell. We were shown to our table, on the first floor of the townhouse it is housed in and sat by the window, under candlelight and rave music! It was quite surreal, but fun! I was still trying to relax from knowing my little one was still probably wide awake and from the London traffic. Not the best start to a meal out, I have to say.

Alexis Gauthier is known for his simple, but exciting dishes. His menus always read great and from our previous experience in Gauthier in October 2010 my expectations were sky high! We were brought our glasses of Champagne and our menus - though they were superfluous. We knew we were going to order the tasting menu. We had already seen it online and were very excited about it! I took the camera out, so that I wouldn't forget to take pictures. Unfortunately, by the last dessert I had lost concentration and so there is no picture of that. The pictures are not great, as I don't like to use flash in a restaurant, but you get the gist of it. Apologies!

The meal started with some canapes. Oregano and Parmesan crostini with caramelised onion and mustard chantilly, potato fondant with octopus and tomato jelly with salmon roe. The crostini were the perfect little snack - crunchy, full of savoury flavour and with a hint of sweetness from the chantilly and the onions. The potato fondant was good, but not too exciting. The textures were all too soft and no flavour really came through. The jelly with fish roe was also fine: an initial strong hit of fish, followed by the more refined flavour of the roe and the tomato.

Then arrived the butter - both salted and unsalted - and the bread. I remembered from the last time we had come, back in October, that there was a fantastic selection of bread. How exciting! I asked for the walnut and the bacon bread, while my husband had the french baguette and the olive bread. There was also cheese and garlic or tomato. I had to make sure I left space for the food though... All the bread I sampled was great, but the winners were the walnut and the french baguette - fluffy, crunchy and a perfect accompaniment for the salted butter. The olive and the bacon were also great, but more 'caky' in texture.

The first course was the Foie Gras Royale, with fondant broad beans and a cherry and port granite. I usually like Foie Gras, but I never love it. This was love! It was just amazing. There was a deep layer of perfectly smooth Foie Gras, covered with the perfect amount of broad beans - almost one per spoonful -, a parmesan foam and the cherry and port granite, which cut through the richness perfectly. It really was a perfect start to a meal!

Then followed the Langoustines and Light Spices with a red pepper Marmalade. As a nice surprise there was also a scallop on the plate. The langoustine was the best I have ever had - it was sweet, salty and soft. I would say that scallops are one of my favourite food and even though this one was delicious and cooked perfectly, I made sure my last mouthful was of the langoustine. The red pepper matched it really well and it all tasted very summery.

The 3rd course was the Summer Truffle Risotto. It was very good, but not as good as the Autumn Truffle Risotto we had had in October - probably a reflection of the fact that Autumn truffle often has more flavour, but also possibly because it was a little too al dente this time.

It was the turn of the fish course: Wild Seabass and Tiny Squid with Artichoke and Confit Tomatoes and a Black Ink and Lemon Dressing. The seabass came with the crispy skin served on the side. It looked delicious on the plate, but I have to say that it disappointed in flavour. The seabass was almost too strong for all the other flavours on the plate and it left the palette wanting something more.

We were both looking forward to the meat course of Crispy and Soft Piglet with Thin Leeks and Red Plums and a Piglet Jus. Unfortunately the crispy element of the dish wasn't quite crispy enough, the plum sauce was a little too tart and the pork was a little overpowering for my liking. I usually love simple, but this seemed a little too simple and the small faults came through.

After that I thought I wouldn't be able to eat another thing, but it was time for the cheese course. A selection of unpasteurised cheeses. We were given a camembert, a blue and a sheep's cheese covered in ash along with some oatcakes and a port jelly and quince marmalade. The cheeses were lovely, especially the camembert, but the star of the plate was the port jelly, which went fantastically with all the cheese.

Finally, dessert time! The first dessert was the Warm Soft Cherry and Dark Chocolate with a Cherry and Red Wine Jelly. The cherry elements were fantastic. Deep flavours of sweet and slightly sour cherry contrasting the dark and bitter chocolate. The chocolate came as a mini fondant and little chocolate ganache drops. My only complaint would be that the fondant was cooked through. I am not sure if it was meant that way or not, but judging from the size of it, it would be pretty hard to get it runny in the middle.

The final course was the White Peach Souffle with a Peach and Champagne sorbet. I really enjoyed this! It tasted of summer on a plate. The souffle was nice and light, with a peach compote hidden at the bottom of the dish, and the sorbet was fresh and delicious, with a good kick of alcohol.

By this stage it was past eleven o'clock and I was getting anxious to get back home, so we asked for the petit fours to go. They were very obliging and we got two beautiful little boxes with 4 different petit fours to eat at home: a jelly, a truffle, a marshmallow and coconut macaroon. All very nice, but sadly no piccies...

I have to say, that had I written this in October, I would have urged anyone to go to Gauthier immediately, but this time I wasn't as impressed. Maybe it was because I was already stressed before the meal started, maybe it was because it was a dinner and my stomach's capacity is impaired in the evening or maybe it was that it is harder to get 8 perfect courses as opposed to the 4 perfect courses we had in October. Would I go back? Probably. But not any time soon and it would have to be for lunch.

Gauthier, Soho, 21 Romilly Street

No comments:

Post a Comment