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Transformation is a word that I think can be rather overused in restaurants, especially those that remain in the same premises and serve the same style of food. I first visited Gauthier during it’s first year and remember having a great meal but other than being given the option of bacon bread in the bread selection and a perfect risotto I couldn’t tell you anything more about the food we had that night, but having since returned (a couple of times) things have rather changed (and they STILL serve bacon bread).
Openness in food is something that means a great deal to me. I hate pineapple and if I find out by surprise I’m going to ‘have’ to eat it and like to know where the stuff I’m eating comes from. At Gauthier they step things up another notch and show the number of calories in their food on the menu, something I’ve not seen in any other high-end restaurants; they also offer the option of pairing your meal with tea opposed to wine. It’s not to say that it’s a healthy restaurant and the tasting menu (which of course we had) came in at 1750 calories, my total days intake, but at least you know and could plan a big gym session and not have lunch beforehand to compensate; as the website says “What if someone who was watching their health had entered my restaurant and needed to make sure of his or her calorie intake without bastardising their choice?”. It’s something I would love to see happen more in the future across the UK.
Regardless of their openness wouldn’t get so excited with the restaurant had the food been boring, though thankfully this couldn’t be further from the case. The theme of the cookery here is about feeling and sense. Ingredients are cooked by eye and touch and delivered with elegant presentation; you get the odd cloche and smoke here but everything is a feast for the eyes as well as the tongue.
The opening dish highlights this perfectly with a couple of spears of white asparagus topping a Maltaise sauce, served with crisp beetroot, nuts and burnt orange – you have two earthy tastes, some subtle sweet citrus and slight crunch; everything is contributing, everything tastes good and is cooked perfectly.
Each time I have been (3 times now) one of the highlights is risotto. Served after the initial starters and before the fish and meat I have never been short of amazed of the richness they seem to pack in there. If this wasn’t good enough they get topped with generous amount of seasonal truffle. You may not want to go for the tasting menu but to not have the risotto would be a crime; search it out on the al a carte and thank me for it later as in my experiences so far this is very much London’s best.
If you take the tasting menu then you get a cheese course (no additional supplement) and the added theater of a fully stacked cheese trolly to peruse which is always fun. To make matter better the desserts are another big highlight, this coming from a non-dessert man I hope hits the point further. They are very French in style with pastry, cream and fruit (and on occasion chocolate) being utilised in perfect ways. The blood orange tart I had divine crisp pastry, sharp fruit filling and a sweet fruited ice-cream. The sliced peels around the outside both looking gorgeous but providing an extra bunch of fruity goodness whenever they made it onto a fork.
For me this is the best balanced tasting menu I have had for a long time in London. You don’t get to the middle course and start worrying about finishing but equally you don’t leave after the final course thinking about a sneaky trip to the chip shop; more-so than just good food this is a good meal, a good experience. The imposing Soho townhouse it’s set in is made to feel warm and welcoming by friendly and knowledgeable staff whose senses to the customer are as keyed in to the chefs in the kitchen sense with the ingredients. The menu changes with the seasons and I’m looking forward to seeing what the next ones bring.Tweet