A Michelin-starred French restaurant near Smithfield market.
On first impressions, Club Gascon – Smithfield’s longstanding temple to Gallic gorging – has much going for it. Our table might have been minuscule, but the setting was marvellous: all dusky indigo panelling, marble pillars, low, lusty lighting and staff so French as to be borderline indecipherable.
It was a shame, then, about the cooking. With the exception of the first amuse-bouche – a teeny, truffled cheese cracker – and a ‘prelude’ of foie gras, topped with caviar and served with pitch-black squid ink crackers, most dishes had at least one diabolical fault. A starter of grilled foie gras with woody pine mushrooms and razor clam was superficially delicious but one note in flavour. Another, of slow-cooked egg with plankton ‘pearls’, seaweed and matchsticks of chicory, was nausea-inducing: a salty, oddly tangy morass of slithery albumen and crispy vermicelli. Not for me – nor, I’d imagine, anyone else.
Veal sweetbreads were fine, cloud-light and delicate, but drowned out by a sweet-saline shellfish bisque and served, exasperatingly, on under-seasoned quinoa. A concession to the clean-eating brigade or a sick joke? God knows. A well-textured slab of turbot escabeche with winkles had zero vinegary zing and was dotted with little grey globules, which I think were the promised shellfish in mousse form, but were actively repellent, either way. How I wished for more of those crackers.
Being 20 years old and Michelin-starred (with prices to match), Club Gascon might have attained ‘classic’ status, but with St John, Luca and The Modern Pantry within walking distance, it seems masochistic to blow around £100 a head on dinner here, instead. Club Gascon is a nice-looking club, sure. It’s just not one that I could recommend joining.
|Venue name:||Club Gascon|
57 West Smithfield
|Price:||Dinner for two with drinks and service: around £200.|
|Do you own this business?|
Average User Rating
4.4 / 5
- 5 star:7
- 4 star:1
- 3 star:3
- 2 star:0
- 1 star:0
Absolutely beautiful from start to finish. I booked a table for 18:30 on a Wednesday so obviously we were the only ones there at that time. However it gradually built up and it was a lovely atmosphere. Very friendly and highly knowledgeable staff. Food was immaculate from the amuse-bouche, bread course and the main and dessert. They infuse weird combinations in the food but they all worked a treat. Will surely be back. Highly recommended.
Club Gascon is my favourite French restaurant in the world! Who would have thought French food in London was better than in France!
Guys this is brilliant and you have certainly won a fan over here!
Stunning French cuisine at an affordable price - interesting wine list complimented by the adjacent bar
One of the best French restaurants in London, with some of the dishes here my favourite of any restaurant I've ever been to. It can be quiet early on in the evening but it fills up quickly. If you want French food done superbly, this is certainly worth a go.
Less that 24 hours before our reservation, Club Gascon calls London Foodie Mama: “We don’t have highchairs..we don’t cater for babies..we recently had to ask a family to leave because their baby was disturbing other diners”. Hmm, not the most welcoming start. Undeterred, LFM was determined to take baby (less than 1 years old) to this 1 Michelin starred snooty restaurant.
In hindsight, we probably would have enjoyed the meal better without the wriggly worm. Pretty stressful keeping bebe quiet amongst the room of men in city suits on expense accounts.
On to the food: Maybe because we chose the limited lunch set menu (they wouldn’t let half the table go a la carte..why??), but we were not blown away by the dishes. The combinations and ingredients were, let’s say ‘traditional’ and didn’t push the boundaries. Next time, we would like to try the tasting menu but will wait to be on expenses (oh dear LFM needs to find a job first).
To the restaurant’s credit, they treated us well and the complimentary champagne and sparkler for LFM’s guest’s birthday was delightful.
Stunning experience at Club Gascon, the a la carte looked fantastic but we opted for the ‘Marche’ menu – certainly more than your average tasting menu with a few nice surprises thrown in too, especially like the amuse bouche and pre desert with mint and wasabi. Of all the dishes my favourites were the duck “Chocobar” and confit scallops – amazing flavours which I don’t think you’ll find in many other restaurants. The service was great and Sommelier explained matched wines really well to a nice like me! Would definitely go back if in the area again.
Good: Great tasting food. Very polite, friendly staff. Close to Barbican & Farringdon tubes so getting home shouldn't be a problem. No rush on finishing meals / no table-turning. Bad: Clearly with the meals in this kind of restaurant you go for the experience rather than an aspiration of getting a full plate, but the portions were pretty meagre, even with that in mind. Waiter forgot our drinks order. Waiter forgot our bread. Was looking forward to trying pheasant but there was no more of this, seemed strange for a high-level restaurant to not plan for a Friday night. All in all... Nice restaurant if you can afford to order enough to not be starving when you leave.
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