For more than 11 years, chef-patron Pascal Aussignac has been building his culinary reputation around The City. His first venture was Club Gascon, which has since extended to the Cellar Gascon, the Comptoir Gascon and Baranis, tucked-in behind the Royal Courts of Justice.
At the Club, Aussigac has launched a new “marché” style menu to showcase seasonal produce, though it’s not just the produce which is exceptional. Aussignac has a real flair for presenting beautiful, artistic plates. But better than that, he gives diners that special feeling that’s hard to come by in competitive London. His surprising technique and inventive use of flavour shows his desire to push the boundaries of his current *1 star.
The “textures of squid” dish is a great example of this. Delicate slices of pan-fried squid are the obvious element, but it’s the squid mousse which takes you by surprise. A white quenelle tricks your eyes into not expecting what you’re about to taste. Velvety and light, it’s a perfect contrast with the crisp squid ink box, ingeniously constructed to contain a gutsy tomato & red pepper piperade. The dish is dressed with a cactus-like “iceplant” that has a delicate crunch and a centre filled with refreshing fluid. Seasoning of powdered tomato skin gives you another delicious, unexpected experience.
The red mullet is another outstanding dish. A well-cooked piece of this fish is a triumph in itself, but Aussignac adds complimentary flavours that take it to a new sublime level. First of all is the saffron-soaked, triple-split quinoa, which is dotted with a heavenly mix of soft mussels and fennel. More pronounced, salty textures come from the bok choy leaf and the irony samphire. Last of all is a bisque-like emulsion made with chorizo and saffron, which while deep in flavour, does not over-power the other elements. This dish is tasty and impressive.
The desserts also contain striking elements. The pre-dessert entremet looks just like a slow-poached egg yolk, but this piece of trickery is actually an intense, textured passionfruit paste, set within a clear liquorice gel. An inspired flavour mix finished with clever technique. The main dessert also shows-off clever elements, like the smoked strawberry ice cream, with hints of an Islay whisky. Contrasted against this is a thick, acidic elderflower foam, which works with tart cherries and dots of verbena gel. The plate is then decorated with an elegant black tea tuille.
Club Gascon continues to bring its subtle style of creative cuisine to City dinners. Professional front of house staff are delighted to serve such high quality food. Their effortless style only adds to the experience. But with ever increasing standards in the food, Club Gascon remains one of London’s outstanding restaurants. Somewhere you must visit.
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