For fifteen years now Glub Gascon, a restaurant in Smithfield, London, has been my favourite restaurant in the world. The food was great, the foie gras menu was long, the wine list was creative, and the service – all French staff – was enthusiastic and interested.
Not any more.
Yesterday, Christopher and I went for our annual “thanks for the year” lunch/theatre combo platter afternoon. Traditionally this is held at Club Gascon, beginning at 14.00 and going on until we pour ourselves into a taxi to go to the theatre. Yesterday, to Christopher’s mortification, I had to request that service was taken off the bill. The waiter was bored and a gold medal winner in the global sneering stakes. The woman on reception was having a constant, public fraccas with the younger waiter who really believed that he was a rock star who had to spend the afternoon being a waiter – and man did that show. The sommellier was professional and well informed, and also bored. Long gone are the young, interested staff who longed to discuss foie gras in great detail and who were simply delighted that you enjoyed Gascony cuisine. This lot were more of what I would expect from a snooty Paris restaurant and, frankly, if I wanted that I would go to a snooty Paris restaurant.
The food was up to its usual standards taste wise but I found it rather experimental in parts. It’s like the chef has Hester Blumenthal envy and has lost faith in the cooking’s South West France roots – great ingredients, thoughfully rather than creatively or scientifically prepared and originally presented. It was such a winning combination and yet seems consigned to the past.
To top it off, the waiter tried to flog me a cook book which I thought was rather odd – it was as if I should further my interest by spending £25.00 on a book rather than trying to talk to him. Whatever.
I won’t be rushing back and now I need to find a new favourite place. Grr.