It was a treat to be back at Le Gavroche for our annual Spring lunch yesterday playing to a full house of 100 diners keen to sample wines matched to a seasonal menu devised by Michel Roux Jr.
We kicked-off with a lively Vouvray Mousseux Brut from Domaine Aubert by way of aperitif, which guests could elect to taste with or without the addition of a dash of Gabriel Boudier’s peerless Crème de Cassis. The exercise of trying to serve canapés and drinks to 100 people in the bijou upstairs bar area at 43 Upper Brook Street always reminds me of seeing how many students can cram into a phone box. Fortunately, we have a loyal and resilient clientele and the intimacy of the surroundings definitely broke the ice.
Once seated in the comfort and splendour of the downstairs dining room the revels could commence with a fine pairing of a rare white Chinon from Château du Ligré and a weightier, oilier, organic Côtes du Luberon from Château la Canorgue – both in the newly released (and very promising) 2010 vintage. I then talked guests through the first 3 wines and Le Gavroche’s Executive Director, Silvano Giraldin, told us how the dishes we were about to sample had been selected and prepared. Kent asparagus with aged parmesan and truffle vinaigrette proved a popular pre-starter and had a terrific affinity for the white Chinon (see previous entry) but the ‘Oeuf Poche Victoria’ that followed was a veritable show-stopper. This dish is an old Roux family favourite – a poached egg served on a bed of lobster on top of an artichoke heart. There were lots of different flavours at work here and personally I thought this offering favoured the Château la Canorgue.
Our main course was a sublime collar of lamb confit served with white beans and wild garlic. We partnered this with a youthful red Vin de Corse Sartène 2009 from Domaine Saparale. The wild Maquis scents and tastes of this unusual Nielluccio-Sciacarello blend married perfectly with the tender, salty lamb so it was going to be a tough act to follow. Fortunately, Ron and Elva Laughton from Australia’s celebrated Jasper Hill estate in Heathcote were in town for the Natural Wine Fair and we indulged ourselves with their iconic Georgia’s Paddock Shiraz 2005. Ron told us about his non-interventionist wine growing philosophy and explained why he is an ardent champion of ‘dry-grown’ (un-irrigated) root-stock despite the pressures of draught and global warning.
A delicate dessert of vanilla panna cotta with Alphonso mango and ginger went down very well with Pascal Labasse’s Jurançon Mœlleux 2008. This unctuous sweet wine has a lovely palate-cleansing acidity to offset the tropical fruit flavours and I think it met with widespread approval.
We rounded off a very convivial event with coffee and Petits Fours and some stout-hearted folk even availed themselves of the digestif trolley before dispersing back into the daylight fully sated.
I am already keenly anticipating to our next visit in the Autumn because if you want to enjoy classic Gallic cuisine with superb service in elegant surroundings Le Gavroche sets the Gold Standard!