French, fancy, fffft – Gauthier Soho review

June 18, 2010

Gauthier, 21 Romilly Street, London W1D 5AF

Met SB this week for our irregular restaurant expedition. Last time we did Galvin La Chapelle and left drunk, poor and ecstatic. This time, we did Gauthier and left less so on every count. It’s run by Alexis Gauthier, formerly of Rousillon (whence also comes the sommelier). We threw them off kilter as soon as we arrived by refusing our table, which was by chance situated right next to my old boss and his wife, who writes for me. They’re perfectly charming, but I’m not going to sit a foot from them at dinner. That said, once we were seated safely on a different floor, it shouldn’t have taken quite that long even to get a menu. They have a hilariously French waiter hierarchy, so that the guys in white coats can bring you plates and take them away, but they can’t take your order or bring you a menu, and the guy who can, who wears a suit to denote his superiority, can’t bring you a wine list or take your wine order and has to fetch the sommelier. Eventually, after enduring a display of two different olive oils, two different butters and about 87 different breads, we managed to order (I’ll list the dishes alongside the wines – selected by the sommelier – for interest in a separate post).

Green asparagus with truffle and brown butter was perfect, very savoury and cooked with just enough bite. We were also intrigued by herb and ricotta ravioli with sautéed broad beans and ‘jus de roti’ (thin gravy, essentially). Unusually it was packed with thyme, which gave it a fabulous herby kick. For the second course my favourite was truffle risotto with chicken jus reduction (oh look! Gravy again) and brown butter. I could have shoveled in a pint of the stuff, it was so light and yet comforting, and it had real wow factor combined with the wine. S loved the roasted scallops, which were sweet and soft.

Gauthier was famed at Rousillon for his attention to vegetables, and lo, we were both slightly disappointed by the fish and meat courses, particularly the fish, to which he appeared to have paid only the scantest of heed. Sea bass with langoustines was fine in its component parts, but had a really weird effect in combination the contrast of the firm bass and the very soft langoustine made them seem dry and soggy respectively. Red mullet and baby squids with fennel and confit tomatoes was ok, but you need to be a bit concerned when the bit that makes the most impression is the confit veg. Fillet of Angus beef was very good but it didn’t make my heart beat faster, though the accompanying bone marrow potatoes were great little potato cases made to look like bones, stuffed with roasted marrow, and the mousserons mushrooms were delightful, though not as superb as the morels that accompanied the sweetbreads in our other dish. I admit I found these a bit much I expected them to be delicate, like brains, but to me they tasted overwhelmingly like that weird smoked cheese you used to get tubes as a kid. It was accompanied by a lettuce and veal jus, apparently, which by that stage tasted to me exactly like all the other jussss (plural).

You know what, it was fun. It was fancy. The vegetables were perfect, which is rare. But ultimately, what with the complicated waiting dance and the fat bloke halfway across the restaurant talking endlessly and insistently to his silent companion about targets and markets non-stop for two and a half hours it was just a bit exhausting.


2 Responses to “French, fancy, fffft – Gauthier Soho review”

  1. […] 20, 2010 Re: the Gauthier review, this is our menu with wines – we ordered four courses, each choosing a different dish and […]

  2. […] have not given up on this blog due to lax updating on my part may remember that a few months ago at Gautier I was alarmed to find myself being placed at a table next to my former boss and his wife, who is […]

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