Friday, July 17, 2015

Meal in the City - Lunch at Club Gascon

With jetlag still lingering in our first couple of days in London, we decided to take it easy with our schedule and had lunch at Club Gascon, a small French restaurant close to where we stayed and after a morning when we split ways - me cycling by the river whilst C spent time at her London office (hey, c'est la vie)

It took us a while to find the restaurant after we reconvened at around noon - we totally missed the low profile entrance as we first walked by because of the construction work outside, but inside it was a compact but charming dining room, with a dozen or so neat tables and the bar in the far end. We felt like sitting inside a fancy house more so than in a restaurant.

We studied the menu briefly and decided to go for the summer lunch menu, which in my opinion offered a tremendous value for less than 30 quids for 2 course (or 35 for 3). We didn't expect an amuse-bouche course be served for set lunch menu so it was a pleasant surprise, and we loved the rosemary churro dipped in watermelon granita and red lily puree in a fancy bowl. It's playful, well-presented, great for the hot weather, and the tasty churro pointed us right back to the root of the chef and the restaurant in the French Basque Country of Gascony. We also enjoyed the fine bread selection with a seaweed butter and a whipped smoked butter. 

There were 2 choices available for each of the courses. I was tempted with the Marmite Royale to start as I was curious to know what that was, but eventually settled on a safer choice of Crackling slow-cooked egg, Truffle and Salted Fingers. The presentation was great - like an egg in the nest filled with the truffle aroma. I could live with the egg being a little runnier - this one was in a more gluey texture probably cooked a degree more than I wanted - but it tasted fine. The crackling was actually deep-fried filo pastry cut into threads and the egg was topped with a touch of mustard vinaigrette.

Main course was a colorful dish of grilled cod cheeks. The cod came in really good size giving it a firm and flaky texture and I love the fattiness, even though I thought it was a tad salty on its own. I liked the pairing with radishes in different shape and form - there's some raw red radishes, some pickled ones and underneath the cod cheek was 2 thick slices of smoked daikon radishes. There were other stuff on the plate too - foam made with crab was dotted around the plate, and in the middle was a squid ink sauce and a seafood bisque sauce "dyed" with beet juice to give it a lovely pinkish color. This is as complex a lunch main course could be and I was impressed by the presentation and the taste.

Dessert was another dish with great presentation and flavors - with an aniseed berries sorbet with lavender "chiboust" foam, cherries and a simple siphon cake providing some spongey texture. Then there's the petit fours - a few pieces of chili-chocolate coated almond, candied rhubarb, chocolate-coated candies, some homemade chocolate truffles, and a paper-thin chocolate "sheet". We were like, "Wow!", when this mini chocolate platter arrived. Of course, plating played a part but it's delicious too.

Okay, true this is not just any round the corner neighborhood restaurant we picked - they have their Michelin star for more than 10 years - but still, the meal was more than what we expected. The lunch menu was sophisticated, classic but playful; service was decent and we loved the ambiance. It's a gem in the City and next time I would definitely be curious to check out their dinner tasting menu if we have a chance.

More photos on my Flickr album: https://www.flickr.com/photos/g4gary/sets/72157655684194125

When? June 24 2015
Where? Club Gascon, 57 W Smithfield, London
Menu Highlights? Grilled Cod Cheeks, Lemon Oil, Pickled Radishes, Crab & Bisque
Web: www.clubgascon.com

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