Le Gavroche

The wagging finger, end of an era…

In 1982, Le Gavroche was one of only two Michelin three-starred restaurants in the UK – the other being The Waterside Inn. I was an 18-year-old catering student at Blackpool College, and even back then, I had a hankering for good food and fine dining. It was to be another three years before I joined the Box Tree in Ilkley and, in 1986, to work with Raymond Blanc at his two-star Michelin restaurant, Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons.

Back in 1982 (42 years ago), I invited my sister to dine at Le Gavroche to celebrate her 21st birthday. The meal was beyond my comprehension, a gift that she and I would dine out on for years to come. It was worth every penny…

I was in my finest Burton suit and tie, thinking I was the bee’s knees. A clear recollection is that a G&T was a shocking £4, and it was £7 for a souvenir signed menu. The overall experience was one of total awe. The Mayfair address, the sumptuous interior, crisp white jackets, wall-to-wall suits – there is much to take in for the boy from Blackpool. 

Our game plan was not to show ourselves up; of course, I had no idea of restaurant etiquette, and while removing my jacket as I was overheating, Silvano, the restaurant manager and now good friend, wagged his finger at me announcing “a gentleman keeps his jacket on” – oops, that’s me found out…

Since then, I have dined at Le Gavroche many times, it has punctuated some special occasions, such as my 40th Birthday treat with Val, my wife, and recollections of a fantastic veal chop, the finest cheese board in town and the omnipresent Austrian twins, Sylvia and Ursula, a highlight of the front of house team for the past twenty years. If you have been, you will know who I mean.

I think the hospitality industry was shocked when Michel announced he no longer had an appetite to continue the good fight, and with a new lease looming, it was time. 

And time it was, the curtain was to fall on one of the most iconic restaurants not just in London but in the world and I wanted one last taste. A swansong to the Roux legacy, a final taste of the Soufflé Suissesse, that cheese board, and to soak up the effortless charm and seduction that was 43 Upper Brook Street. It was everything we had thought it would be, living up to expectations to the very last minute.

The restaurant world has much to thank the Roux family for – leading the way when food and service were not cool and trendy, training and guiding some of the biggest names – Pierre Koffman, Marco Pierre White, Gordon Ramsay, Marcus Wareing, Monica Galetti, Jun Tanaka, Bryn Williams, Stephen Terry, Rowley Leigh, Paul Rankin, to name only a few. Respect!

Closing must have been an agonising decision to make. But let’s face it, Michel had a little help along the way. By that I mean, London is a difficult place to trade, the insatiable appetite for the new venue, not the trusted gems, and the Hospitality industry has no voice supporting small businesses, it is a tough job staying afloat.

Anyone who knows me, knows I’m always super positive and always looking for the silver lining, and there is one; Pied à Terre can now say it is “London’s longest-standing Michelin-starred restaurant.”

Tip Top.

Image credit: Sylvia and Ursula Perberschlager — Jodi Hinds

USE. AND REUSE.

We ask our suppliers to use recyclable or reusable packaging, and we recycle everything we possibly can – cardboard, paper, bottles, batteries, electrical items, and of course, food. Packaging for our plant-based delivery is kept to a minimum, and we encourage diners to reuse and recycle the container. Careful planning and ordering by Asimakis ensures that our food waste is minimal, and we work with First Mile to ensure that unavoidable food waste is used to make renewable energy. When food waste goes to landfill, it decomposes under uncontrolled conditions and releases methane, which is 23 times more dangerous to the planet than carbon dioxide.

We have a zero-tolerance policy on single-use plastic for storing food in the kitchen.

All oils and fats used in the kitchen are collected and recycled into biofuel.

PARTNERS WE CAN ALL TRUST

Fresh, excellent produce is at the heart of what we do. We only work with suppliers who share our ethos. We collaborate to help minimise our impact and identify local, smaller and sustainable food and wine suppliers across our industry. All our suppliers provide us with full traceability; we know exactly where our produce comes from, how it is sourced, and visits to our suppliers are a highlight in the restaurant calendar. Only sustainable fish from the UK is used at the restaurant, and 100% of this is from day boats. We are very mindful of food miles and constantly working to minimise and reduce them.

Our toilet paper from Who Gives a Crap is 100% bamboo fibres. Bamboo is grass and grows incredibly quickly, making it very sustainable. 50% of Who Gives a Crap profits help build toilets and improve sanitation in the developing world. All our bathrooms products are ethical, sustainable and also vegan.

We endeavour to decorate the restaurant with plants as opposed to fresh flowers. Where fresh flowers are used, they are sourced from sustainable florists/markets.