Harden's survey result
“Why he has not regained his Michelin star is quite beyond me”, say fans of Alexis Gauthier’s immensely popular and accomplished venture, which lost its gong in 2012, and which the Tyre Man has pointedly (pointlessly?) ignored ever since. “You have to ring the doorbell to gain entrance” to this quirky old Georgian townhouse in Soho, whose “charming, old-world” dining rooms are on different floors separated by a somewhat “rickety staircase”. But whereas its culinary style could once be easily pigeon-holed as “classic” Gallic gluttony – with “exquisite, inventive dishes, beautifully presented” – the main man’s banishment of foie gras in 2015, his ongoing conversion to veganism, and his well-known ‘Les Plantes’ vegan tasting menu (a feature since 2016) is taking the place further and further out of the mainstream. On most accounts results remain utterly “outstanding” whether or not you are a meat eater, but ratings dipped a tad this year on the back of some regulars noting a slight “slip in standards”. Sometimes the concern is general (“needs a bit of a revamp”). More often, though, it’s linked to the shift away from meat (“getting tired of the vegan ‘foie gras’ canapés and yearning for the old-style ones”). But, quibbles aside, his achievement in maintaining high standards during such a big shift is impressive, and it will be more so if he fulfills his promise next year and goes entirely vegan. Hats off to AG for “embracing the concept and importance of a plant-based diet and doing wonderful things to vegetables!”
“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”.
Gauthier Soho Restaurant Diner Reviews
"Remains great value. Impeccable service. Only slight niggle is adding quite hefty supplements to several dishes on the prix fixe menu."
"Tasting menu with wine pairing was good value but the five courses were thrown at us in about an hour. "
"Very traditional ambience with bow ties for waiters but excellent food. These days I prefer to have more choice than 2 tasting menus so I don’t feel quite so full at the end of a meal."
"Exceptional fixed price lunch with impeccable service. A splendid experience"
"An oasis of calm and style in a frenzied Soho nightscape. The truffle risotto certainly a desert island dish. Wine list imaginative with mark ups that are not greedy. Somewhere enduring which should be treasured."
|Wine per bottle||£30.00|
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
|Number of Diners:|
|Tuesday||12 pm‑3 pm, 6:30 pm‑10:30 pm|
|Wednesday||12 pm‑3 pm, 6:30 pm‑10:30 pm|
|Thursday||12 pm‑3 pm, 6:30 pm‑10:30 pm|
|Friday||12 pm‑3 pm, 6:30 pm‑10:30 pm|
|Saturday||12 pm‑3 pm, 6:30 pm‑10:30 pm|