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Launched in a former Lyons tea house, marble-walled Club Gascon is now an ‘establishment’ name in foodie circles – it’s got the requisite Michelin star and an alpha chef, but it hasn’t lost its
culinary ‘edge’. Toulouse-born Pascal Aussignac’s creativity gives rise to some of the most original French cooking around. Nowadays, look to glazed black cod on burnt pebble with verjuice and
crunchy grapes, BBQ quail on embers with summer roots, fruits and spicy violets, or black olive and chocolate ‘millionaire’ with thyme ice cream to discover where the chef’s native Gascony meets
the modern world. It’s a thrilling journey, even with the set-lunch route (superb value at £25); otherwise the monthly tasting menu and wilder reaches of the carte always reveal new pleasures,
despite the odd culinary misfire. The wine list is almost exclusively southern French, but endlessly fascinating.
Pascal is finally back from France and to celebrate we went to supper with our gorgeous friends Jacci and Tony. Tony chose the restaurant Club Gascon - he had wanted to take Pascal there for ages - it was very adventurous for us as it is the other side of London in between the Barbican and Smithfield Market. According to the website, the restaurant specialises in imaginative cuisine from the South West of France and the chef Pascal (not my one) is from Toulouse.I had obviously checked out the menu online and looked at the photos on food spotting and was excited - everything looked so pretty! The menu was different (menu) - it is split into 5 different sections: La Route du Sel, Le Potager, Le Canard, L'Oceane and Les Paturages. This allows diners to enjoy as many different flavours as they wish. There is also a tasting menu.The menu is small and smart with plenty of waiting staff however the service was a bit of a let down. Considering the restaurant has had a Michelin star since 2002, I was expecting more. The food however was delicious (mostly).We had an amuse bouche of beetroot soup, a truffled scallop and some crisp puffs. A bit of a bizarre combination - the crisps and scallop were good, although the scallop was the size of a smartie but I was not a fan of the beetroot plus the colour was off putting - a bit too Harry Potter. It was nicely presented, just not my cup of tea.I had the 'Ambre Tulip "Quinoto" with Truffled Pumpkin Pulp. This was amazing - so fresh and flavoursome, I could have had this for main as well. I can't describe how mouth wateringly good this was.I did have severe food envy of Jacci and Pascal's 'Truffle Terrine & Macaroon'. This was the best terrine I have ever had, and whilst it sounds strange the truffle macaroon worked perfectly. It was INCREDIBLE!Tony had the 'Rose Carpaccio, Mulled Wine & Crispy Gingerbread' which he said was delicious and certainly looked pretty. I need to up my standards on presentation with my cooking as this looked incredible!We were all very happy with our starters. Mains were also very good, although I did regret my choice, I would have preferred the truffle terrine!I went for the 'Grilled Squid & Octopus, Bordelaise & Samphire' - another delicious dish, the fish was very fresh and tasty, but it was not exceptional and I have no idea still what that big purple thing was on my plate!Pascal had the 'Salt Marsh Lamb, Salsify, Heliantis & Nori' - like me he said it was very good but not memorable and not as high a standard as his starter.Jacci had the 'Glazed Black Cod, Sweet Artichokes, Verjuice and Crunchy Grapes'.Tony had the Charolais Beef Variation, Caviar, Ox Sauce.Both were very good and well presented.For pudding Jacci and I decided to be piglets and have cheese. We were offered a small mint sorbet which was very cute and refreshing but I was still in a savoury mood!The restaurant did not have a cheese trolley and instead just prepared you a plate of cheese. This was brilliant. A varied selection of cheese, chutney, biscuits and bread and each section complimenting each other. This ended the meal on a definite high!Club Gascon offers excellent food in an elegant setting, the starters were some of the best we have had in a very long time and if I went back I think I would just order a selection of starters and then cheese! The main courses were also good but not as exceptional. I would definitely recommend the restaurant if you were in the area for a quiet civilised lunch or supper although I wouldn't race back there as I think there are some other great places in the city I would like to try (if I make the effort to go over there - lazy bones here doesn't want to travel 45 minutes)!!Club Gascon57 West Smithfield,LondonEC1A 9DSTel: 020 7600 6144Fax: 020 7796 0601 More from THIS LITTLE PIGGY LOVES FOOD! »
I first came across Club Gascon at the Taste of Xmas event last November. Having tried their foie gras burger it prompted me to make a reservation for dinner. Based in Smithfield it has held one Michelin star since 2002. With it being the lead up to the festive season we had to settle for the ‘Chefs Special’ menu of 3 courses for £28 which seemed a bargain with 3 choices for each course.
For starters I chose grilled pine smoked duck hearts, wild fennel and diabolo sauce. They were well cooked with a bite and not overdone. The sauce added a slight sourness which went well with the grilled duck hearts. My dining partner, P, had watercress veloute, goats cheese gnocchi and mouli, he commented that it was average at best... More from Nomface »
For more than 11 years, chef-patron Pascal Aussignac has been building his reputation in The City, especially around Smithfield Market. His first venture was Club Gascon, which has since extended to the Cellar, the Comptoir Gascon, the recently opened Cerle in Chelsea and Baranis, tucked-in behind the Royal Courts of Justice; nothing can stop this acclaimed chef.
Quietly working, Aussigac has permanently been creating after the success of his flagship... More from vialaporte »
It all started with my friendâs sudden desire for foie gras and her research on where to have the best in London. Only after having agreed to it, did I find out that I passed by this very restaurant almost every day on my way to work: Club Gascon, a Michelin star French restaurant next […] More from Kings X Girl »
When people hear that I have a food website, they jump to all sorts of conclusions. For a start, they panic that when I come to their house for a meal I will photograph their food and then write a scathing critique of their cooking skills on my blog. (OK, they are probably right about the photographing part!). They assume that I cook as if I have guests every night, and never come home late from work and bung oven chips and frozen breaded fish fillets in the oven. (Oops, have I said too much?) Or colleagues will pass by my desk at lunch and rubberneck at what I am eating, thinking it must surely be artisanal sourdough topped with foie gras and a side order of caviar. Hah. Not so much. They are far more likely to find me munching on a cheddar and coleslaw, or a tuna and sweetcorn sandwich. And yes, sometimes these are from Tesco. Mea culpa.
So when I DO leave my desk and go out to lunch, I am usually looking for something diametrically opposed to my usual boring sandwich. And I am pleased to say that last week I found lunch Nirvana practically on my office doorstep. Club Gascon was opened in 1998 near Smithfield Market in Clerkenwell by Vincent Labeyrie and chef patron Pascal Aussignac and is one of London’s best-loved French restaurants. As the name suggests, the restaurant specialises in fine cuisine from South-West France, and it was not long before they were awarded a Michelin star. I liked the place as soon as we walked in; small but full of beautiful things, like the pistachio-coloured banquettes, the distressed silver ceiling, the gigantic flower arrangement on the bar, and the very beautiful curved wooden screens. And we won’t even start on the tableware – I don’t think I have ever seen more covetable ceramics in a restaurant... More from Cooksister »
In the decade since Pascal Aussignac moved to London from Paris, he & business partner Vincent Labeyrie have built up a small empire of Gascon-inspired sites in the capital. The jewel in the crown is the Michelin-starred fine-dining site Club Gascon, where Aussignac's tapas-style dishes from south-west France have won a cult following among London's diners. Chelsea restaurant Le Cercle & Smithfield-based wine bar Cellar Gascon, plus bistro & pastry deli Comptoir Gascon complete the package.