Le Gavroche

43 Upper Brook St, London

This London institution’s place in the captial, or indeed Britain’s dining history, is already firmly confirmed. Since opening its doors in 1967, it has become the standard-bearer for French cuisine in the city. Leading the way in the famous red book, it was the first British restaurant to capture one, two and then three of the much sought-after stars. When brothers Albert and Michel Roux welcomed their first guests, among them were Charlie Chaplin, Ava Gardner and Robert Redford – since then it’s never been anything less than star-studded.

These days, Le Gavroche has managed to maintain its reputation and stayed true to its ethos – old-school fine dining at its Gallic best. Pure culinary theatre – from the finely tuned choreography of the service to the trollies trundling around their set routes carrying silver urns of ice cream or a dizzying array of neatly flagged cheeses.

Having taken over in 1991, Michel Roux Jr (son of Albert) has kept true to his father and uncle’s traditions. Every dish on the menu tempts you in a way that only French food can, offering the ultimate in luxury and indulgence on a plate. The food icon that is Soufflé Suissesse (cheese soufflé cooked on double cream) has been on the menu since Le Gavroche first opened, as has Mousseline de Homard au Champagne et Caviar (lobster mousse with caviar and champagne butter sauce). But while keeping in mind the fact that his loyal customer base love what they like, Roux Jr has gently eased his clientele forward with some of his creations. Rable de Lapin et Gallette au Parmesan (roast saddle of rabbit with crispy potatoes and parmesan) and Soufflé aux Fruits de la Passion et Glace Ivoire (hot passion fruit soufflé with white chocolate ice cream) are modern classics to add to the legacy of Le Gavroche. As acclaimed as the food, are the staff. Far from the revolving door policy towards employees by some restaurants, Le Gavroche staff are as loyal as its customers. When the likes of Chaplin walked in back in the 1960s, they were welcomed by Italian maitre d’ Silvano Giraldin. Today, while his job title has changed a bit, he’s still there along with a clutch of staff who’ve been there for more than a decade. Just like classic French fine-dining fans the world over, he just can’t keep away.

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