Few restaurant names are as evocative as Le Gavroche, the restaurant founded in 1967 by brothers Albert and Michel Roux and now owned by Albert’s son, Michel Jnr, who can often be seen bounding out of the kitchen to shake hands with his fans.
Le Gavroche remains the last word in sumptuous, old-school French fine dining – and the last exponent in London of a very 20th-century form of Gallic luxury, from the friendly formality of the suited staff to the plush comfort of the green and red basement dining room, where an ornamental flourish is never far from one’s elbow, whether a decorative plate or an architectural flower arrangement.
If you’re in the mood for a thorough pampering, there’s simply nowhere better, from a starter of lobster mousse with caviar and Champagne butter sauce that delivers an embarrassment of exquisite riches to the signature dessert of omelette Rothschild, the gold standard of soufflés and proof that there is no such thing as too much cream.
Other equally rich signatures include coeur d’artichaut Lucullus (artichoke mousse layered with black truffle and stuffed with chicken mousse and foie gras) or saddle of rabbit sandwiched between rosti potatoes and a disc of Parmesan.
Elsewhere on the menu, other ideas simply showcase superb ingredients cooked straightforwardly to highlight their innate flavour: our roast rack of Herdwick lamb with onions and artichokes was no less delicious for being daringly plain by the standards of this place. The simplest dishes of all are on the famous set lunch menu, alas no longer the bargain of old at £72 for three courses, but still including half a bottle of wine, coffee and petits-fours.
Mind you, this really isn’t the place to consider an economy drive, and from the cheese trolley to the digestif trolley, temptation awaits at every corner. For “classic fine dining, with an exceptional wine list, and second-to-none service”, Le Gavroche remains “a rare treat” – and also one of London’s more unlikely child-friendly restaurants.