the square or le gavroche for birthday dinner? [London]
Hi, wondering if you recommend the square or le gavroche for bday dinner? Is le gavroche lunch or dinner better? Also any comments on ambience would be helpful.
One thing for certain: lunch at Le Gavroche is substantially cheaper than dinner. Set lunch costs around £50 for three courses plus half a bottle of wine per person, with water and cofffee included. Quality is exceptional and dining room, while formal, is lovely. Attentive, almost telepathic service contributes to a really nice atmosphere, and I recommend this restaurant without hesitation.
I went to the gavroche in August 2008 and was a bit disappointed, as was my husband. I thought the canapes were weak, and when we were brought to our table we went past a man who was, I kid you not, eating with his knife and licking it. Not english but it set off alarm bells that it was more about patrons with cash rather than foodies.
Food was delicious but service also faltered at the end when we found the cheese board being manned by a 12 year old (or so he looked) who was too shy and/or new to give us any interesting chatter about the cheese - my husband was pretty annoyed not to be fully talked thru the board. I would definitely go to the square. It will probably be pretty formal and not so atmospheric, but the food should be very memorable.
Check out this thread:
If you scroll down you can see my (gushing) report of lunch last month at Le Gavroche which was truly exceptional. I found the other patrons fascinating rather than offputting (an 80 year old Russian ex ballerina with a 20 something year old member of the Nigerian royal family, par example, and actually I think it may well be a sign of a 'foodie' to be served food so delicious you want to lick your knife! I like my peas with honey and all that...If one is concerned about manners whilst dining I'm sure on most days there will be no more refined exhibitions than at Le Gavroche, frankly), and the cheeseboard was a dream, and very well talked through. Canapes were also spot on.
I know what you mean about the signature dishes - we added an extra course of the souffle suisseuse (which I strongly recommend), but they are also apparently willing to swap courses for modest supplements.
And the lunch deal is an exceptionally good one - they haven't cheated on the wines available for example.
re: helen b
Thanks for your both of your thoughts...am still a bit conflicted. The lunch experience sounded wonderful and good to know you can substitute for some of the signature dishes. Le gavroche is booked for lunch however on my bday, and for dinner only the 9.30pm seating is available. So I could go for the a la carte dinner menu, as the Menu exceptionalle doesn't seem to have some of the signature dishes either. (eg would love to try the omlette rothschild). The Square I'd like to try at some point too, though their current menu isn't so appealing to me!
Any other recommendations for a memorable evening with good food? Hakkasan was actually my original choice for more fun atmosphere, though they are booked that night.. Restaurant gordon ramsay was also booked. I'd really like a good souffle on my bday. :) thanks again.
although i admit le gavroche is a bit dated i really like the basement in the evening. they keep the lighting subdued, some would say overly dark, but the upshot is it does make for a much more intimate atmosphere than the square, which would be all the better for a less austere setting.
imo, food wise the square is streets ahead. it's inventive without going haywire, where as le gavroche is very well executed classically based french cooking.
service was always a strong point at le g, but silvano giraldin retired last year who's been there for donkeys and was a total industry legend. i've not been since, but it can't but of left a gaping hole...
that probably didn't help at all did it? they've both got pluses and minuses.
re: marcus james
Thanks everyone. I have been to Murano before, and agree it was delicious..the menu hasn't changed since and the restaurant is booked anyway for my bday, but would love to go back another time.
Re: ledbury, it does sound like an innovative menu and nice modern ambience, though I don't feel up for that trek, prefer Mayfair area, and getting drinks at nice bar before dinner. Would check it out another time.
Good to know leGavroche can be atompsheric (perhaps romantic) in evening and not that severe. I will have to try Square sometime also, though am just not super excited abt the main courses on offer for dinner right now...the crab lasagne starter sounds great/creative, as does rice pud souffle; but I am perhaps more curious to try the cheese souffle starter/omeltte rothschild at le Gavroche. Anyway, would love to hear any more comments of your experiences at either places! Thanks again!