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Club Gascon

Restaurants, French Smithfield
2 out of 5 stars
Club Gascon

Time Out says

2 out of 5 stars

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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.

Club Gascon says
Club Gascon specialises in imaginative cuisine from the South West of France. Since opening in 1998, the restaurant has received numerous accolades including one Michelin star (since 2002).


Address: 57 West Smithfield
Transport: Tube: Barbican
Price: Dinner for two with drinks and service: around £200.
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