Beautiful Michelin-starred French in the City
Category : Restaurant
| Cuisine : French
Opening Times : Mon-Fri 12pm-2pm & 6.30pm-10pm, Sat 6.30pm-10.30pm
Closest Tube : Barbican / Farringdon
If you are as passionate about France and foie as we are, you need to visit Club Gascon, stat. The restaurant has been presiding over the City as one of its premiere fine-dining establishments since its inception in 1998. It‘s currently the only restaurant within the Square Mile to boast a Michelin star, which it has held since 2002, and alongside St John was instrumental in reviving Smithfield as one of London‘s central culinary hubs. Gascon looks poised to reign for many years, having launched a small empire of restaurants comprising of a bistro named Comptoir Gascon, a wine bar named Cellar Gascon, an indoor pétanque bar named Baranis, and a Provençal restaurant named Cigalon. While the reasons for Club Gascon‘s success are myriad, there is a particular component that stands out. Namely, Chef Pascal Aussignac.
Hailing from Toulouse in the southwest of France, Aussignac elevated a cuisine that what was once known for its rustic simplicity to dining at its most sophisticated and challenging. Before arriving at his current position as one of London‘s top chefs, he trained with masters including Gerard Vie, Alain Dutournier and Guy Savoy. The dynamic between his classical schooling and his roots is an interesting one. Aussignac is a chef that teases out and elevates every nuance of an ingredient - whether it‘s foie gras or cassoulet, duck or charcuterie, fine wine or Armagnac, one can expect a work of brilliance in every bite.
The setting lends itself to the archetypal fine-dining experience. Service is spotless, executed with an almost martial precision. Dark wooden chairs border tables with starched white cloths, and those who opt for seating at the periphery of the room will be luxuriated with cream-coloured velvet banquettes as pleasing to the tactile sense as the visual. There‘s an abundance of marble spread throughout, ranging in hue from alpine-glow roseate to dark caramel, two colours that are found quite often within Aussignac‘s cooking. A mirror runs along the left side of the room, trumped only in dimensions by a massive bouquet of flowers. The ambience in Club Gascon is quite intimate, lending itself as much to a romantic evening as to a celebratory meal with senior execs.
The A La Carte Menu is certainly worth paying attention to. It‘s divided into five separate sections to encourage a serendipitous approach to dining, with guests choosing as many flavours and combinations as you wish. For those that haven‘t yet had the Club Gascon experience, we recommend sampling the Le Marché menu. We know that this may sound ludicrous, but five courses at £60 is actually quite good value for London, mainly due to the amount of amuse bouches and palate cleansers served throughout the meal. Though it‘s not on the aforementioned menu, one of the most talked-about dishes at CG is the Marmite Royale & Soldiers, which won the Best in Taste Award in 2012. This reimagining of the classic British breakfast meal utilises two divisive ingredients, Marmite and foie gras, to create a playful dish catering to a grown-up audience. While we appreciate that some members may not agree with foie, we‘d be remiss not to mention another of CG‘s signature plates - the Duck ‘Chocobar‘ with Gingerbread and Crazy Salt - an incredibly rich amalgam of savoury and sweet, topped with gold leaf and served with a dollop of piment d‘Espelette gel to cut through it all.
Other amazing dishes included cured yellowfin tuna alongside crispy cubes of pork, complemented with a luxurious Bernaise Sabayon. For dessert, we were treated to a bouquet of blackberry pearls with matcha and parsnip ice cream, which was as full of flavour as it was colourful. Oenophiles and foodies alike are encouraged to enjoy the meal with matched wines, which is an extra £30 for five courses - when compared to other London restaurants of this calibre, it‘s quite competitive.