Harden's survey result
“Stepping through that front door (you ring to enter) takes you into a better world” at Alexis Gauthier’s “quirky”, converted townhouse in Soho, which provides “some of the best French cooking in London”. “The cuisine achieves a masterful balance of traditional technique applied to the finest ingredients – flavour, intensity, plus beautiful presentation”; and the “empathic service” is “friendly but always professional”. The venue’s “distinctiveness continues into the maze of cosy yet elegant rooms” spread “higgledy piggledy” over a couple of floors, and “with only a few tables in each room”, the style is “peaceful” going on “seductive”. Why Michelin took their star away is an utter mystery. Top Tips – “the eight-course tasting menu is a fabulous foodie experience; the three-course De Luxe lunch is an absolute steal”; “the devoted vegan tasting menu is superb”; last but not least, “the truffle risotto is a ‘Desert Island Dish’”.
“The charming necessity to ring the doorbell to get in” helps “to whisk you miles from Soho” at this “intimate” and “elegant” townhouse, whose “calm and quiet atmosphere is amazing for somewhere just one street away from Shaftesbury Avenue”. Alexis Gauthier’s “mind-blowingly fantastic” seasonal cuisine is “some of the best French cooking in London” – “classic, but never old fashioned” – and backed up by an “unusual and interesting wine selection”; while “uncloying” service is of the “nothing-is-too-much-trouble” variety. “The absence of a Michelin Star since 2012 is baffling” and starkly calls into question the judgement of the tyre men. Top Tip – “lunch is a real snip”.
“A haven in a busy part of Soho” – this “delightful” Georgian townhouse is “made all the more special by having to ring the doorbell” to enter, and once inside, its “peaceful” series of rooms “exude romance”. However “it’s the food that’s the key element” – Alexis Gauthier’s “top-league French cuisine” features “brilliant flavour combinations”, and is matched by a “varied and exciting” wine list, while staff provide “wonderful hospitality from start to finish”. Top Tip – “the lunchtime deal is amazing value”.
“Ringing the doorbell adds to the special feel” of a trip to Alexis Gauthier’s “beautiful, plush and quiet” Georgian townhouse, in the heart of Soho. But while it “oozes romance and decadence”, it’s first-and-foremost a gastronomic experience, with “unbelievably slick” service and some of London’s best French cooking – “seasonal, classically based, and superb in taste and presentation”. Top Menu Tip – leave space for the “always wonderful” signature Louis IV chocolate praline dessert.
Gauthier Soho Restaurant Diner Reviews
"As outstanding as ever. The wild garlic risotto was excellent and faultless. Service was superb. Where’s the star? "
"Still a great value Lunch in cosy intimate dining rooms. Elegant, well balanced dishes."
"The lovely amuse bouche are gone, what a pity. We were unlucky and were seated at at a table by a service passage; room lighting so low that many diners, us included, could not read the menu or wine list without using a mobile phone torch app."
"Overall excellent but slight concern that on the fixed price lunch menu choice is restricted unless you pay a supplement and the glasses of wine are only taster size."
"Truly excellent and original food, even on the set lunch menu. The deluxe lunch with champagne, wine and coffee is exceptional value. Very good service and ambience"
"Great service, especially since one guest wanted the black truffle risotto as a first course and the other as a second. The food is interesting, stylish and beautifully presented, and interesting wines by the glass made for a memorable evening."
"Awesome starters let down slightly by decent but not outstanding mains. Sleepy service for this standard of restaurant. They forgot our petits fours and I had to go to ask for them."
"Had another lunch there yesterday and it was excellent, the deluxe lunch for £45 is astonishing value including two matching wines and champagne, coffee and water. One of our guests said it was the best lunch ever. And it was truly memorable."
In a small townhouse quietly located in the heart of Soho, a Gallic restaurant run by Alexis Gauthier, formerly of Pimlico's celebrated Roussillon - on our early-days visit, there was no sign that the magic had transferred.
Chef from well-known and long-established 'hidden gem' restaurant (Rousillon) sets up on his own in cute West End townhouse (once associated with Richard Corrigan), to offer a refined Gallic formula at reasonable prices. What could possibly not be to like about this Soho newcomer?
Oh dear. We so much wanted - and expected - to like Alexis Gauthier's new restaurant. But we just didn't. That's no reflection at all on the hard-working staff (many also ex-Roussillon), who are invariably charming. But there's no getting away from it: the sentiments the place inspired were ultimately of total indifference.
First problem is the setting. A ring-to-enter townhouse just off Soho's throbbing main drag sounds a dream location, but the reality is that each of the individual floors, tastefully but somewhat blandly decorated, is very small. The entry level consisted of four tables, leaving everyone hostage to the loudly expressed views of humourless bores and, indeed, one such was present on the night of our visit. (Lest there be any doubt, we exclude ourselves from that reckoning.)
The second problem is the food, which may well be a function of the setting: the best food, an eminent restaurateur-turned-critic once confided to us, never comes out of basement kitchens. (Think Ritz!)
Perhaps that's why the overwhelming impression of the dishes we sampled was blandness. Some of this may have been a function of simple under-seasoning, but this is a restaurant which will live or die by its food, and only two of the seven dishes we sampled - herb-crusted halibut with ginger, and lamb with asparagus - raised more than a flicker of interest.
This is all the less forgivable when Gauthier has imposed on himself a worst-of-all-worlds formula for modern dining. Dishes are offered in fashionable 'tasting' portions (albeit fairly large ones), but not - Ã la maze, say - on an informal 'as it comes' basis. Rather they come in traditional, sequential mode, with Michelin-pleasing pomp each time. (Even, hilariously, sometimes with cloches, though perhaps understandable given the set-up.)
The result of this approach is obvious: attention is focussed remorselessly on each dish in turn, and if it does not live up to expectations there is nowhere for the kitchen to hide. And, if you have a bore on the next table, nowhere for the customer either.
21 Romilly St, London, W1D 5AF
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Tues-Sat 12N-2.30pm Mon-Sat 6.30-10.30pm
Last orders: 9.30 pm, Fri & Sat 10.30 pm