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When it comes to delivering a tasting menu that tantalises the taste buds, surprises & delights, and is genuinely delicious & satisfying, Club Gascon, has hit the nail on the head. Situated close to Smithfield, Club Gascon specialises in imaginative cuisine from the South West of France. The award-winning Michelin starred restaurant takes all of its food and produce from Gascony very seriously, so much so that the food is monitored by Le Comité Renaissance who has a commitment to maintaining the highest standards of freshness and authenticity.
I was recently invited to Club Gascon with fellow lifestyle expert, Inna, to sample the 4-Course Summer Tasting Menu. On arrival, we were warmly greeted with champagne and French charm by Aurore, the restaurant manager, who talked us through the menu, explaining how Executive Chef Pascal Aussignac likes to challenge people’s taste buds. His love of food is evident throughout the menu with every dish being special in its own right. Pascal’s eye for colour, texture and shape means that the presentation of each dish is like an edible piece of art.
Next, we were introduced to Jorge, our excellent waiter, who helped us to choose a bottle of wine, which would complement our menu for the evening. We settled on a bottle of the Domaine des Shistes, a gorgeously crisp white wine.
The first course on the menu was an Amuse Bouche, which roughly translates into English as a ‘surprise for the palette’. It was a cold soup made from apples and asparagus, with a lovage sponge on the side. The mix of flavours was amazing, really fresh and clean, it was a good way to prepare for the upcoming richer dishes on the menu.
For the second course, I selected the Truffled Crackling Duck’s Egg, which is slowly cooked for 90 minutes at exactly 63 degrees Celsius so that it remains incredibly soft inside. The egg was rolled in crispy duck skin, black quinoa and panko crumbs, and underneath was a layer of truffle cream atop a baked kataifi pastry. To top it off, it was garnished with fresh summer truffle shavings. The combination of all these ingredients was melt in your mouth delicious – I hadn’t tasted anything quite like it before, it was really different – I would return to the restaurant for this dish alone!
The third course was Plancha of Sea bream, Quinoa, Saffron & Chorizo. This was a fillet of sea bream cooked a la plancha, served with saffron quinoa risotto, samphire, mussels and chorizo. It was garnished with bok choi and steamed samphire in a bouillabaisse sauce. The dish was so tasty, light and flavoursome. Sea bream is a favourite of mine, I loved the mix of distinctive flavours as they all blended together well, enhancing one another.
By this point I was getting very full but was ready for course number four, which was Ossau Iraty, Smoked Lillet & Mandarin Jus. This was shavings of Ossau Iraty cheese with mandarin & white balsamic sauce and smoked coconut & vermouth foam. It was intensely rich and generously portioned. Again, it was a new dish for me but it didn’t take long to warm to it! The cheese and sweet sauce was very satisfying, without being sickly.
The fifth course was Cherries & Smoked Berries, Elderflower & Black Tea Tuile. This was a crumble of dry strawberry, marinated cherries, smoked strawberry sorbet, elderflower foam, and black tea tuile and tarragon gel. Sounds very strange but was absolutely delectable! It was fresh and sweet with a wonderful mix of different textures.
After the fifth course, I thought the meal was over, and then our waiter appeared with a sixth course, which was a plate of chocolate truffles, nuts and popping candy. It completely took me back to my childhood and was fun to eat.
The whole experience was fabulous – the food, service and ambiance were faultless. All of the different flavours and textures used throughout the menu were fantastic, providing plenty to talk about during the meal. The menu was refreshingly innovative and exciting with elements of surprise thrown in for good measure. The menu is great for dates and catching up with family and friends, any occasion where you don’t need to rush because this is the type of food that you’re going to want to take your time over. At the same time, it’s certainly not comfort food – it special and unique – perfect for when you need to impress. Every course was distinctive, nothing blended in and nothing was forgettable.