With an understated decor, Gauthier lets its food do the talking.
Gauthier is located in an old townhouse, the former site of Richard Corrigan’s Lindsay House. The decor is luxurious but understated, with a colour scheme of white and cream. Slightly creaky floors, a lovely old fashioned fireplace and a narrow staircase add some old fashioned charm to the venue, although the camp artwork in the loos seems silly and out of place.
Service is charming and food arrives covered, on classic metal trays, which is a nice touch. The other customers seem like an older, dignified set, with a variety of couples on dinner dates and small groups of friends catching up.
Gauthier really comes into its own when it’s time to tuck in. The menu offers three courses for £27 but unusually, also four (£36) and five (£45) course options and, as everything on the list looks enticing, it’s easy enough to see why. Portions are slightly larger than you’d expect for a tasting menu (which, incidentally, is also available at 12 courses for £70), and, unless you stuff yourself on the amazing bread – try the tomato and basil – five courses should leave you no more than comfortably full. Aside from the bread, some interesting nibbles are worth perusing, such as chickpea beignets and some crunchy fresh vegetables – a nice alternative from the usual olive dish.
Things start well with an amuse bouche of spring vegetables – the same that arrive earlier, but cooked this time, and sprinkled with delicate shavings of black truffles. Because of the setup of the menu you can theoretically have any dish as a starter, but the green pea soup with tiny cubes of foie gras is so good you’d happily eat it five times over. The foie gras cubes are creamy and soft, and give the vibrant green soup a savoury edge. Asparagus spears are slippery with melted butter and covered with generous shavings of truffles.
For the second course, scallops arrive seared to golden perfection and the tomato keeps the dish light and fresh. A razor clam and prawn salad is presented in the clam’s shell, and although the clams have a good texture the prawns are strangely mushy. A third course of lamb is cooked wonderfully, slightly pink and tender, and served with some incredibly garlicky potatoes – although delicious, the potatoes are so potent it might be best to avoid this dish if you’re on a date. The sea bass, a generous fillet topped with a juicy shelled langoustine and a spear of crispy skin, is accompanied by a lobster-bisque style seafood sauce.
A boozy pre-dessert of pineapple foam whets the appetite for another pineapple-based dessert, a pineapple and rum souffle with pineapple sorbet on the side. Although there isn’t a strong taste of rum the souffle is otherwise faultless, a light and fluffy consistency. Slivers of first crop strawberries (from Secretts Farm in Surrey) are sweet and full of flavour, served with a plentiful mound of whipped cream on a crisp shortbread biscuit. Pale green macaroons are a lovely parting gift and leave you reminiscing about the meal on the way home.
Gauthier’s wine list – which starts off with the poem Ode to Wine by Pablo Neruda – is international and features over 200 bottles – if you find the choice intimidating, the sommelier is helpful and passionate about what’s on offer. By the glass, prices range from £5 to £12 for a good number of choices including a strong, flavourful Carmenere Reserva from Chile (£7.50) and a crisp, citrusy Gaillac Sec La Vigne de l’Oubli from southwest France (£9). By the bottle, prices range from £18 to £182 and there are pages of Champagnes to choose from as well. Short snippets about everything from heavy metal and the sommelier’s memories of a small Italian town where his grandparents lived – and how they all relate to wine – provide surprisingly interesting reading for a wine list.
The Last Word
Whether you opt for the restrained three courses or the tasting menu with 12, Gauthier’s food will leave an impression.