Croque Gascon

Westfield Shopping Centre, Ariel Way, London, England, W12 7GE, United Kingdom

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This outlet closed in late 2009. The other food outlets at Westfield shopping centre seem generally to be prospering, so it was a shame to see this fold; I confess that on my couple of visits there I was almost the only person eating.  Presumably when shoppers think "fast food" they don't think "duck burger".  The notes that follow are of historical interest only.

The vast Westfield shopping development has no shortage of eating places, but the only one with any foodie heritage is Croque Gascon, owned by Pascal Aussignac and Vincent Labeyrie, who set up Club Gascon and Le Cercle. This was a fast food outlet (or “a new concept we call quick food” as the gushing public relations has it) rather than a restaurant, situated in the “Balcony” area of the Westfield Complex. 

It would certainly be a little unkind to call this a food court, as there are fairly smart tables and proper cutlery, and you can have a glass of wine. You pick up your food from a counter on a tray, but the plates and trays are whisked away from your table very efficiently. Indeed in the few seconds it took to walk from my table a few yards to the counter to pick up my food and back, a security guard had already spotted my coat unattended and was already contemplating how to blow it up by the time I returned. Westfield could not be accused of being light on staff.

The open kitchen serves up food in the style of the south west of France, though I imagine your average Toulouse resident has never seen anything quite like this. I sampled a duck burger with Bearne bacon (£8), made with good minced duck enlivened with sweet onions and a little chilli and tomato relish in a bun (a version with foie gras was available for £14). This was actually very tasty, the chilli giving a nice bite to the dish (12/20). Fries (£2.50) with this could have been crisper, but at least were properly salted (12/20). 

Less good was a cassoulade (£7.50), whose pieces of duck confit and haricot beans were tender but otherwise lacked much flavour: rather than a rich, thick stock with sausages there was little to taste other than tomato and a hint of pork, while the dish was under-seasoned, which was odd given the robust seasoning in the other dishes tried (just about 11/20). 

There were a few glasses of wine from the south west of France available (£4-£6 a glass). A cut above normal fast food.

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