Since a visit during London Restaurant Festival a few years back, we’ve always been fans of Gauthier Soho. With my coming from a background of vegetarianism, and the Canadian coming from a background of out-and-out carnivorousness we always found Gauthier to be a good middle ground.
Of course, these days, my vegetarianism is all but a distant memory, and the carnivores reign supreme – so tucking into all Gauthier had to offer was on the cards for me this time.
I should probably start by mentioning the overall ambience of the restaurant, and I’m going to do it in a bulleted list:
- You ring a doorbell and go in through a front door – this was a brand new experience to me first time round, and very much puts you in the mind of going to a posh friend’s house for dinner.
- There are often pillows on the seats – for comfort, naturally.
- The lighting is soft and a lot like how you might light your own home if having a dinner party.
- There is loud music in the toilets, and soft background music in the main dining area. It’s like walking into the toilets and finding a rave is continuing on in a more appropriate place.
- Sometimes the tables are set up so that you and your dining partner are both facing outwards, in the mannar of surveying the room.
- The waiters are well mannered and informed, and attentive throughout service.
So, now to the actual food. The Vegetronic tasting menu went a little something like this:
A small bite: squid ink crisp with avocado moose and toast with tomato confit and basil
We thought: ruddy lovely, we’ll have more of that thank you.
An aperitif: jasmine scented hydromel
We thought: possibly an acquired taste, I (Charlie) love Jasmin tea so the taste was very pleasant to me, whereas Ty found the whole drink a little hard going. Still, not a drop was left.
A pre-starter: ovenbaked carrot and fish skin
We thought: lovely, crispy, unctuous fish skin which worked really well with the carrot. The sauce that accompanied was a little too salty for our tastes and my carrot did seem just a tad over.
A starter: green asparagus with quail’s eggs, confit lemon and parmesan crisps
We thought: very excited when we saw it coming up on the menu and it tasted as good as it sounds. Perfectly poached quail’s eggs and the asparagus with crunchy parmesan crisps just made it. The only query we had was on the confit lemon; it was very strong and even seemed to detract from the taste of the parmesan crisps (oh the shame!). Perhaps it was meant to refresh the palate, but I personally think the dish would have been fine without that.
A post-starter: umami bomb, wild mustard custard
We thought: up there with favourite dish of the entire menu. The name really says it all, the textures of the dish were amazing as well: smooth custards with the firmness of really well cooked wild mushrooms with a piece of crispy panchetta. An accomplished dish and a memorable moment in the meal.
A fish dish: bamboo steamed cod, garlic leaves, croutons and cos lettuce
We thought: although the cod was cooked perfectly and the croutons a delightful crunchy addition to the dish, overall the flavour didn’t quite deliver for us and the garlic leaves didn’t seem to have the punch we’re used to (perhaps because it’s earlier in the season or perhaps the cold weather?) and again the dish was a bit too salty for our tastes.
To cleanse: peppered lemon infusion with sugared celery and cucumber sobet
We thought: very well-timed dish, I was just beginning to feel full and needed something light and palette cleansing to see me through the remainder of the menu. The cucumber sobet was awesome (but not in the Vegetronic cookbook it seems) and it was a pleasing and surprising way to treat celery.
And now for dessert: compote of rhubarb, Indonesian pepper and fresh goat’s cheese
We thought: having a sweet tooth, I always hold out for dessert and it will (by and large) be my favourite course – this did not disappoint me or the Canadian (who does not have quite the sweet tooth I do). There was a decidedly savoury note and the goat’s cheese worked wonders with the rhubarb. I’m not entirely sure what made up the little floating dots, almost like mini, very light, slightly salty, meringues. It rocked. Alas, this picture doesn’t do it justice.
Finally: lovage bubblegum, orange blossom marshmallow, sugared quince carrot and olive oil petits fours
We thought: specifically, I thought, “how delightful”. You can see my Vine of this part of the meal here. My favourite was the orange blossom marshmallow which was just wonderful. The lovage bubblegum was tasty, but this taste only lasts a short amount of time before giving over to what you’d expect from gum that’s lost it’s flavour. No matter how much I wanted to – I just couldn’t bring myself to blow a big bubble with the gum in the restaurant.
We drank: strawberry vermouth, Pommeau De Normandie and coffee to finish
Total bill: £191.25 (including service)
Cost of tasting menu: £136.00 (with two copies of the Vegetronic cook book included)
Cost of drinks: £34
Overall thoughts on Vegetronic tasting menu: more than 3 hours of dining with fantastic food in one of our favourite places to eat, great waiters and two books included. Highly recommend a visit.