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SquareMeal Review of Le Gavroche

Gold Award

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 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”. 

Good to know about Le Gavroche

Average Price
££££ - Over £80
Cuisines
French
Ambience
Cosy, Fine dining, Glamorous, Lively, Quiet conversation, Traditional, Widely spaced tables
Other Awards
Two michelin stars
People
Child friendly, Romantic, Special occasions

Location for Le Gavroche

43 Upper Brook Street, Mayfair, London, W1K 7QR

020 7499 1826

Website

Opening Times of Le Gavroche

Tues-Fri 12N-2pm Tues-Sat 6-10pm

Reviews of Le Gavroche

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36 Reviews 
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Service
Atmosphere
Value

Paul A

Old school classic
22 November 2017  
Our welcome was simply exemplary, the discreet lighting at the perfect level, tables properly dressed and spaced, and staff always immediately there when required. The menu exceptionnel is a firm favourite, and the wine flight, although on the face of it rather expensive, provides very suitable choices to match the particular characteristics of each dish; an example of this was an English Chardonnay which, although not easily identifiable as being that cepage, perfectly matched the stone bass on the plate. The amuse-bouches of pumpkin arancini and salad tartlets topped with bacon were nicely paired with a glass of sweetish Albert Roux champagne and set us up for the signature starter of delightfully soft and creamy soufflé suissesse, which was quickly followed by a carpaccio of Galloway beef marinated overnight in spices and accompanied by a tongue-tickling salt beef sandwich, perfect horseradish sauce and pickled beetroot that was just out of this world! We are always happy to have scallops, but, although the Noilly Prat velouté worked very well and the leeks were perfectly charred, the roast scallops left something to be desired in their softness. Salted and seared stone bass with a sensational hazelnut condiment followed and the dish was raised to another level by the well-judged addition of chicory, balsamic flakes and some surprising orange. The two meat dishes were both superb: poached and glazed pork cheek, tender as you like and complimented beautifully by a pumpkin and mustard purée and a really tasty rosemary jus, and then a supreme roast Lake District loin of venison backed up with venison stuffed red cabbage and a lovely juniper sauce. The cheese selection included so many French and English variations that it was difficult to limit oneself, but we did manage and we sampled and enjoyed a Spenwood from Berkshire for the first time. The Calvados Baba was matched with a Canadian ice cider, which made the whole dish perhaps just a touch too appley for our palates. Discussing the meal afterwards we agreed that even though the food was really good and, despite it feeling slightly rushed between courses, the service absolutely top-class, in the end the wow factor had been missing. Usually we have been inspired by the whole experience at Le Gavroche, but on this occasion we felt on something of a plateau. We concluded that perhaps the reason was that, bizarrely, with the first and the final dishes matching each other in uniform lightness and softness, and those in between covering a rather dark-coloured palette, the visual aspect of the food on the table lacked variety and from that aspect classicism had suffered in the face of modernism. Nonetheless, this was a very enjoyable evening in an atmosphere that is streets ahead of most of this venue’s competitors.
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Paul A

The best of haute cuisine
01 September 2016  
Whatever the latest, usually temporary, trends may be, Le Gavroche remains what the French would call a focus of culinary excellence and it will continue to outshine most of the other highly-rated restaurants because it maintains its high standards and its respect for the classical tradition that is the foundation stone of the training of all the best chefs as well as its respect for the very best of fresh seasonal ingredients. Right from the start, with the warm welcome, one is made to feel like a valued part of the whole dining experience, and all the excellent staff do everything necessary to ensure that the diners will enjoy their meal. On this particularly warm evening it was a pleasure to find the dining room comfortably air-conditioned, and the restaurant’s justifiable popularity was demonstrated by the fact that it was as good as full by 6:30. We indulged ourselves with one of our favourite fizzes, Taittinger Comtes de Champagne, to begin the evening, and this went very well with the canapés, cream cheese and quince jelly, and a super celeriac remoulade with radish. The Menu Exceptionnel commenced, as usual, with the signature soufflé Suissesse which was really light and an exceptional match for the champagne we had deliberately kept back. To go with the first three, fish, courses we opted for a bottle of Guigal Condrieu, which showed its versatility and handled the different tastes and textures extremely well. Marinated and seared sea trout perfectly balanced with trendy bottarga, two kinds of beetroot and a “late harvest” Canadian vinegar juice got things off to an excellent start, and this was followed by superb sweet roasted Scottish scallops in a wonderful Chartreuse velouté with juliennes of carrots you could smell the freshness of. Another popular fish in restaurants at the moment is stone bass and this version with its scent and taste of Ras el hanout accompanied by genuine Camargue red rice, fennel coulis, aubergine and a pumpkin crisp rather put the others we’ve had in the shade. Brilliantly succulent pressed pig’s head terrine with braised Hereford snails, lemon, and brick to go with the inimitable parsley purée was a fitting lead up to some incomparable pigeon, French may be, but delicious none the less and superbly matched by a 1999 Pommard which served to bring out the full taste of the bird in all its subtlety - both the leg and the breast - and emphasised the reasons for including roasted peanut which edged its way forward on the palate at the finale. Some warm homemade bread worked very well with the mainly French cheese selection and our palates were again regaled by the strawberry dessert, the best of local fruit with perfect vanilla cream, light pistachio cake and an outstanding strawberry sorbet. Coffee and petits fours finished the evening which was truly a demonstration of haute cuisine at its best.
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Paul A

Impeccable!
15 February 2016  
In two-star restaurants, especially those that charge three-star prices, you expect more than just a good part of the food to be tasty or even delicious. You are surely justified in thinking that all of the food should be delicious and feeling let down if that is not the case. One two-star restaurant where you are certain not to be let down is Le Gavroche, and in view of what one French chef is quoted as saying on the loss of a third star, namely that it isn’t such a tragedy as he is still fully booked for months to come, it is not surprising that the chef here was of the same mind when, on a Thursday evening in a “dead” month like February, there wasn’t a table to be had. Take a look at the Menu Exceptionnel and the accompanying wines and it is hard not to be seduced into an evening of out-and-out hedonism. The impeccable welcome and the service throughout the meal induce just the right feeling for proper enjoyment of the heavenly dishes put before you. Canapés of chorizo picante pastillas and celeriac and bacon remoulade led into the super signature amuse-bouche, the super-light soufflé Suissesse with its cheesy double cream background. Then came a sequence of stunning winners beginning with a knock-out marinated venison carpaccio, venison-impregnated rye-bread toast, horseradish cream and pickled beetroot, followed by overwhelmingly pure-tasting roast scallops, a lovely Chartreuse velouté and a scattering of coral crumbs which emphasised the sea-fresh flavour. Continuing the marine theme was stone bass with a perfectly balanced ras-el-hanout coating, red rice and a superb fennel coulis, and then a terrific introduction to the main course in the form of soft and utterly flavoursome boudin noir, quail’s egg poached in red wine, and mushroom ravioli turned crispy, all tastily highlighted by a red cabbage relish. The main course of beef cheek braised in red wine was exemplary, the tender meat full of flavour and the parsnip purée an ideal companion with lardons and carrots providing a textural background. It is remarkable how well-judged the overall quantities were on this sizeable meal, to the point where the abundant cheese trolley yielded up portions of Abondance, 5-year old Davidstow cheddar (as far as we know Le Gavroche is the only place to have it), Comté, and goat’s cheese among a wealth of others, and the dessert of spiced pistachio and chocolate cake, rum soaked dried fruits and rich bitter chocolate sorbet went down remarkably well and failed to leave us with the feeling that we had overdone it. Once again quite impeccable!
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Ms/Mrs. Rebecca L

Service is second to none but food left me underwhelmed
28 September 2015  
I've been dying to go to Le Gavroche so I admit that I had high expectations but I've given this review a lot of thought and keep coming back to the same conclusion, that this is somewhere that is slightly living off it's reputation and isn't exciting enough any more. The service is absolutely second to none - I challenge anyone to find fault. The atmosphere is buzzy and the surroundings, although not to my taste as they're quite dated, were beautiful. If you're looking for very traditional French cooking then this is for you. But my problem with the food is that none of the dishes made me go 'wow!' We had the tasting menu, wanting to get a real insight into what Michel Roux Jnr does best. I can't fault the cooking (except maybe the soufflé which was quite sickly) and everything was nicely presented but there was nothing on there that I've not had before and to me, when I'm paying so much for a meal, I really want to see something new or innovative. If you want a special meal with modern French cuisine I'd recommend Restaurant Gordon Ramsay instead - service is on an equal par, surroundings are beautiful but it's better value for money and the food is more exciting.
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Paul A

Consistent class
13 April 2015  
The first impression on descending to the dining room is one of luxury; slightly old-fashioned, maybe, but the superb staff are well attuned to present-day expectations and clearly all the guests were at ease. The menu exceptionnel was the obvious choice, and, for the most part, the wine flight looked good, although some of the selections were better than others. The canapés, a curry salad tartlet with a bresaola topping and a salmon mousse millefeuille, were served with our apéritifs. To commence a tasting menu with a signature dish is clearly aimed at putting the diner in the right frame of mind for the rest, and so it proved with the soufflé Suissesse, its wonderful aroma matched by its lightness and the way the cheese added seasoning to the creamy soufflé and the perfectly matching Palo Cortado sherry. Following it with a melt-in-the mouth carpaccio of marinated beef in combination with a proper horseradish sauce, amazing toasted rye bread and sweet yet pickled heritage beetroot showed a good understanding of how to balance tastes and textures in a sequence of dishes. The wine with the beef was a surprising Provençal rosé. All-round excellence sprang to mind as the description of the roast scallop dish, which came on an outstanding tarragon velouté with swede and winter cabbage. We knew immediately that we would love the stone bass from the lovely aromas emanating from the plate as it was set before us. The fish and its ras-el-hanout coating were matched by a fish pastilla, a fennel purée, rice and an inventive meat jus, and the accompanying Viognier went with it beautifully. Aromas were again the order of the day with the terrific smoked pork cheek, red cabbage purée, very good kromeski and crispy belly ravioli. My wife's Pommard went better than the wine flight Morgon. The main course of roast lamb was, unusually these days, served with theatrical flourish, but it deserved it; disregarding the air miles element, this Pyrenean lamb was simply tenderly outstanding, and especially tasty in combination with the garlic and parsley, the perfect thyme jus and the flageolets. We decided to be modest with our cheese course, which provided a very good selection of French and British products, and took just two, a very good aged Comté and a cheese from a Cornwall maker we thought we knew well, but the amazing 5-year old Davidstow cheddar was new to us and apparently only supplied to one or two restaurants. The extra-special dessert we had been hoping for was indeed available and we tucked into light, spiced dark chocolate sponge cake with orange peel and orange sauce wth added chocolate and orange ice cream for a truly memorable climax to our meal. Very good petits fours and coffee added to the overall enjoyment. In our opinion another restaurant that deserves promotion.
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Anon

Top notch
07 April 2015  
I went to this place for our friend’s birthday. We loved this place they have the quickest tasting menu, I chose the wine which was very tasty. The first slab of smoked salmon truffle that was taken to attach the last cheese selection it was also great and cheese soufflé was deliciously cooked, I was actually amazed and thrilled. It is indeed a very nice restaurant to feel anything and everything because it is top notch. I will want to visit absolute someday if I got a chance.
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Mr. Stuart C

21 April 2014  
My wife and went to Le Gavroche recently having not been for about a year and, if anything, it was even better than we remembered. The food and service were as impeccable as ever and quite how they keep the quality of taste and flavours so high, I don't know…I can only assume it is years of practice and the fact that the Roux family have always cared – Indeed Michel himself found the time to pop from table to table. Some may say that is old fashioned but if attentive, unfussy service, menus with no prices for the ladies and excellent food equal old fashioned, then I wish I'd been around years ago. To sum up, it's one of the best restaurants in London – I just cannot see why it doesn't have that 3rd Michelin star.
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Mr. John C

The perfect Valentine's night.
01 March 2013  
We went to Le Gavroche for their Valentines evening where there were two sittings and a set pre-paid menu. Having the night already paid for was great as you didn’t need to think about choosing wines and other distractions such as cost. We were at the second sitting and, like most people, arrived a little early which was perfect as everyone was greeted and shown to a table as they arrived. From the moment we sat down, in the plush, cosseting surroundings of the dining room, we were made to feel that this was going to be a special evening and our enjoyment was their main concern. With no choices to make we were able to just sit back and let the food ( seven courses ) and the wine ( at least seven but after about number five I really lost count so it could have been more ) flow with the numerous waiters seamlessly wafting in and out providing or whisking away plates at regular intervals. What was refreshing was although everyone received food and wine at about the same time, the sommelier was more than happy to talk to every table about the next course / wine match and answer any questions, stupid or otherwise, that anyone had. We never felt as if we were being rushed for the sake of the convenience of the kitchen. Highlight of the evening was Michel Roux Jr chatting and presenting every table with a single long stem rose and signed cook book. My wife received the rose and the firm handshake from the boss, I got the cook book, which was probably the correct way round on reflection. As you can probably tell we were most impressed with the surroundings, food, service and overall organisation. This was obviously a special night but we got the impression that we could have been there on any night and the same standards would have applied. We’re looking forward to going back and checking…
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Ms/Mrs. wendy P

17 January 2013  
We went last night (having booked in September) with great trepidation having read a poor review. We went for my birthday and had the tasting menu (8 courses) with matching wine. It was fabulous. The food was just amazing but the whole atmosphere and service lived up to the hype. Michele Roux worked his way around the tables which must be such a hard and tedious thing to do but it was seriously appreciated. You could tell that he really just wanted to get back into the kitchen! The whole experience was of a traditional, classic, top class restaurant. They were generous with the wines and the timing between courses was perfect as the gaps between the courses got longer as the evening went on giving you a better chance to digest. I have never had this before but it worked very well. I had seen comments in other reviews about the service but I thought it was wonderful. They were constantly checking the table, topping up water and removing empty glasses but we were not interrupted once. However, when you wanted to talk to them they were very chatty and informed. For me, it was somewhere that I have wanted to go for a very long time and funnily enough the really bad review heightened the experience. My only question, to myself, is that Le Gavroche is twice the price of my favourite London restaurant but was it twice the experience? Probably not but it was still an amazing evening
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Mr. Richard E

21 November 2012  
When this year’s Zagat review came out, it (or rather, for this is the point really of its crowd-sourcing style, it’s readers) rated Le Gavroche the third best food in the capital. It is not hard to see why, yet this left some of the twittering classes agog. How could a restaurant in the heart of Mayfair, a restaurant that has been churning out the same style of food for nearly half a century, be amongst the best food in London? London is about Shoreditch; it is about pop-ups and concepts. It isn’t longevity that counts, it is newness, freshness, pushing back the boundaries of what you can do with a single ingredient. Well maybe because: (a) you can book; (b) they can cook; and (c) the concept of service is not a concept like “up-market hot dog”, but a way of ensuring that the diner is made to feel at ease; made to feel relaxed, not made to feel lucky that they have been able to dine at this week’s greatest restaurant of the decade, having stood in the rain for the last two hours at a location tweeted to them that morning. I first came to Le Gavroche some twenty year’s ago, and some things haven’t changed at all. The unassuming front door still leads to a small bar area (although one can no longer linger over a digestif and a cigar); the menus for the guest have no hint at the prices; and those prices are still higher than a Baumgartner skydive. Whilst sipping a cocktail at the bar, the vast menus are proffered, an even vaster, leather bound wine list arrives and orders are taken, before you then descend to the main room. It isn’t what you would call bright. Not gloomy, not unwelcoming, just not showy: unpretentious. You are left in no doubt that here, the food is the star. And what food – flawlessly executed, deeply flavoured and beautifully presented. The boudin noir came with a perfect piece of crackling, which may well once have been attached to the suckling pig that was the shared main course. Soft and melting in the way that suckling pig should be, this came with raisins soaked in marc de gewürztraminer. Sweet and strong, the perfect accompaniment. I am sure that the desserts are as expertly prepared as the rest of the food, but when faced with a cheese chariot as huge and smelly as this, why bother with dessert? Service is excellent in an old fashioned way; unobtrusive, unsycophantic, although we were somewhat thrown by the vibrantly red haired waitress who seemed to be everywhere, until we realised that there were two of them: twin sisters, who seem to have evolved to be identical in their taste for eye wear, earrings and hair colouring products. But at the end of the day, is all just a little too passé for London? Yes, it was cutting edge in 1967, and has lead people like Pierre White, Ramsay and Marcus Wareing to blaze a trail through the Milky Way of Michelin stars, but isn't it all a bit past it now; a little tired? No, not at all: in an age of instant gratification, when we are all told that we have to seek out the three night only pop-up above some bar that is so cool you will never know about it until it is no longer cool, in some far flung reaches of the East End, serving a single cut of meat from the hind quarters of a free range, rare breed ocelot, served on glutton free, organic, artisanal sour dough toast, there is something deeply soothing about the familiarity of Le Gavroche, as it sails a course through culinary fashion. I know, I am one of those (almost) 50 something City bigwigs (without, alas, an expense account the size of Mars) so sniffed at by the Guardian, but so what – London is a polyglot city, a melting cesspit of ideas, cultures and experiences: the great charm of the city is that we can have the aforementioned pop-ups pushing the boundaries, whilst letting the likes of Le Gavroche serenely go about its business. There is ample room for both and, whilst I do like the occasional ocelot steak, I am equally as happy relaxing into the plush banquettes and premier crus of Le Gavroche.
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