London on a gilded shoestring – Day 5

To start with the end of the day, we had dinner at Le Gavroche and rather unexpectedly, found it to be the best meal we had in London. I actually thought the Fat Duck would lay claim to this, hands down, but while the Fat Duck was great and very interesting, the food we had at Le Gavroche was amazing, and the service so warm and friendly, that it is to this restaurant that I would want to return, and not the Fat Duck. There are very few places that I’ve come across, that are able to blow you away on the strength of their sauces alone. The chocolate sauce on the hare dish I had was rich, unctuous and so beautiful, as was the golden hollandaise on the gratin of snails and langoustines. Like the memory of having your first oyster, I’ll never forget those tender, buttery snails.

As we were in a french restaurant, I also couldn’t go past the apple tarte tatin with it’s little toffee thatch and quenelle of creamy vanilla bean ice-cream that the waiter scooped from a silver container, at the table. When I ran out of ooh’s, I moved on to aah’s, every time they brought a dish over. Each dish arrived covered by a silver domed lid which was lifted briefly for your viewing pleasure, before being quietly placed on the table, then the lid completely removed with a flourish. It’s all a little bit frou-frou but seemed so appropriate to the occasion that I enjoyed all the theatrics.

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We actually started the day with a trip to the Tate Modern. The main attraction there at the time was the Carsten Höller installation in the Turbine Hall : a series of slides which you can ride down. Being school holidays, the entire place was teaming with kids taking great interest in Piero Manzoni’s Canned Poo, Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain, Francis Bacon’s Reclining Woman, Juan Muñoz’s Towards the Corner, etc. The most popular was of course the slides which were booked out by noon, so B and I (the bigger kids) didn’t get a chance to have a go.

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It was way past lunch time when we exited the Tate Modern, so we picked up some pork pies from Harrods to eat along the way and salivated over the cake displays at Patisserie Valerie…

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..before going to visit Rod who works at Green’s Restaurant and Oyster Bar. As Fortnum & Mason was also in the area, we dropped in to check out the food hall. The chocolate and glace fruit counters were the most impressive, being knee-deep with customers queueing for a box or small bag of this and that. Display shelves dotting the floorspace also yielded the usual branded teas, jams, honey and more unusual objects like packaged fried crickets and scorpions. By the time we had to leave to make another appointment, I had with me, a bag containing two jams and some novelty coloured sugar.

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The appointment we had was with an electric breadmaker which we wanted to get for N & M as a thank you present. A reliable source had told us that this was something M had been considering getting for himself. Being unfamiliar with London, it took us forever to find a place that sold such a thing. Finally with the help of the internet and Google Maps via B’s phone, we stumbled into an Argos store, made the purchase, then were on our way to Le Gavroche for dinner. It was raining by that stage, so while B negotiated the large package, I was appointed chief provider of shelter. The small umbrella and my short stature didn’t help matters and I was soon fired from my position by an irate and increasingly damp B. But all was forgiven when we reached Le Gavroche’s front door where we were ushered into the warmth and dry, and proceeded to have a most fantastic meal.

Tate Modern
London SE1 9TG

Fortnum & Mason
181 Piccadilly
London W1A 1ER

Le Gavroche
43 Upper Brook Street
Marble Arch
London W1K 7QR

Next : Day 6 : Hinds Head, Fat Duck.



  1. Steven Wallis said,

    October 24, 2007 @ 7:38 am

    Hello there, I came across your wonderful blog and I have to say that I’m a big fan of your writings and observations on food. Glad you enjoyed Le Gavroche, I too think that it’s a class restaurant – it’s finesse and attention to detail way superior to many of London’s other fine restaurants. Hope to chat soon and loving the posts.

  2. Y said,

    October 29, 2007 @ 7:34 pm

    Hi Steven! Thanks for the comment. I still rate my experience at Le Gavroche as one of my all time favourites. Those snails snuggled under a butter blanket..sigh.

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