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A "place of pilgrimage", this "world-class" restaurant is seen by old school diners as "absolute dining perfection" and "stunning in every way". Stratospheric prices and the difficulty of securing a booking peg it as a special occasion destination, but it more than lives up to expectations, whether you're celebrating a 21st birthday or a golden wedding anniversary. There is nowhere else like Le Gavroche, from the almost garish red and green decor (complete with hand-painted ornamental plates and animal-shaped table decorations) to Michel Roux Jnr's haute cuisine, which honours the formal traditions of his French forebears while updating them with judicious global additions. Devotees come here to revel in dishes of legendary luxury, from lobster mousse with Aquitaine caviar and Champagne butter sauce to roast suckling pig with a peppered sauce of golden raisins and confit shallots – although a dessert of coconut and white chocolate cream with mango and lime salad proves that the kitchen isn't stuck in the past. Service is second to none and staff clearly love working here – especially as it's now closed on Mondays so they can get a proper weekend.
Unfortunately for John Lewis, Monty the penguin – this year’s insufferable advent of the festive season and the repugnant herald of Christmas – didn’t, as he has with many, whip me into stiff, frenzied peaks of excitement for the big day. It did, however, remind me that this year is going to be as big and as expensive as ever and so for that reason, I went for lunch at Le Gavroche.At this time of year Le Gavroche is far from miserable. It’s jolly festive, a portal to a cheery Christmas past (a ghostless one in a Dickensian sense but in no way lacking spirit) as warm and welcoming as your grandparents’ living...
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