Chef Pascal Aussignac has been in charge of Club Gascon for over a decade, and his cooking reflects that of the south-west of France, where he was brought up (he is from Toulouse). The dining room has a high ceiling with a wooden floor and quite small tables. There was an attractive flower display on the bar at the end of the room. A tasting menu is available at £55 a head, or £85 with wines included.
The wine list is almost entirely from the south-west of France. Domaines des Agrunelles Domaine Vinci Coyade 2006 was £71 for a wine that costs around £21 retail, Domaine Alain Chabanon Trelans 2004 was £81 for a wine that retails at around £19. Domaine les Clos Perdus l’Extreme 2005 was £95 for a wine that costs about £35 to buy, Doimaine Peyre Rose Clos les Cistes 2002 was £195 for a wine that costs around £48 in the shops. Bread these days is, except in the case of one roll, bought in and warmed up, and the texture was disappointing, hard on the outside but rather cotton-wool inside (11/20); the one bread they made was better (15/20).
Mojito macaroon tasted of Mojito but was rather dense in texture (14/20). An amuse-bouche of chestnut veloute, peanut ice cream and nut crisp was capably made, but for me the peanut flavour was quite strong, while the chestnut veloute by contrast needed deeper flavour (14/20). I started with grilled baby artichokes, barigoule and diabolo sauce (£15). I am not sure how these artichokes were prepared, but in the process they had lost almost all of their flavour; the sauce was fine, but this was not a good dish (12/20). To the credit of the serving staff, this did not appear on the bill, with no prompting from me.
The next course improved the level of the meal, with duck liver pate garnished with piperade (£14) with crab claws on the side. The foie gras was rich and had good texture (15/20). Even better was the taste I had of the goose liver foie gras. My main course was variations of Charolais beef (£22). This was prepared as a tartare, as fillet and as tongue, with an oxtail raviolo on the side. The tartare was not very well seasoned and the tongue was rather lacking in flavour, but the fillet itself was excellent, carefully cooked and served with an excellent reduction of the meat juices; the ravioli was also good (15/20 overall, though the fillet was better).
Red summer fruits with home made yoghurt was very pleasant, the fruits good and the yoghurt a nice idea to cleanse the palate after the rich beef dish (15/20). My dessert of milk chocolate chantilly with chocolate and truffle ice creams was the stand-out dish of the meal. A ganache was sandwiched between two crisp layers of chocolate, and the contrast of textures worked well while the chocolate itself was of high quality (17/20).
Service was pleasant throughout the meal. The bill was £100 a head, with a modest wine. I found this a somewhat unsatisfactory meal overall due to the variation in standard. The dessert was lovely, and the beef fillet in particular excellent, but the earlier courses ranged from ordinary to sub-standard. I have scored the meal 15/20 but I was tempted to nudge it down a point. At these prices that does not seem good value for money.
What follows are brief notes from a meal in January 2003.
We tried the tasting menu. First was a veloute of shellfish and lamb’s lettuce served in a tall china cup; this had intense flavour, the liquid having the occasional mussel and even an oyster, as well as pieces of ewe cheese (15/20). Foie gras of canard was a think slice of pate with smooth texture and strong foie gras flavour, served with some remarkably light toasted brioche (17/20). Grilled confit of salmon was pleasant, resting in a frothy cauliflower cream (14/20). Braised capo had wonderful flavour, served with chestnuts, crosnes and black winter truffle (17/20).
Finally, “Twelfth night cake” featured delicate pastry and served with an almond ice cream and a little glass of fresh green apple juice (15/20). Wines appropriate to each dish were served, the whole five courses priced at £55 a head including wines (we had some drink beforehand, which bumped the price up). Best of all was the bread, both country bread and cereal bread, of wonderful flavour, crispy crust and fine flavour, very well salted – some of the best bread I have had in ages (18/20 for the bread, which was made on the premises). Service was competent and the premises, though cramped, no longer involve literally packing people in by rearranging the tables.
Further reviews: 23rd Mar 2018