For my birthday this year one my boyfriend’s gifts was a vegan tasting menu in a London restaurant which was once awarded a Michelin star.
My boyfriend isn’t vegan, and in fact loves any kind of meat, so when eating out we normally resort in omnivorous restaurants, and most of the time in Indian (which I love) and Chinese. None of my girlfriends are vegan either, so I normally end up eating chips or salad, which I don’t mind at all. The vegan restaurants I’ve been in London have been nice but still not mind blowing.
On the day of the booking, we grabbed a refreshing pomegranate gin & tonic in Muriel’s Kitchen and then headed to the venue: Gauthier Soho.
We rang the bell and entered a new environment. Outside on the street the sun was still up. Inside the only light was candlelight. Our maître greeted us with a very french accent “Ello welcome to Gauthier”. We mentioned we came for the vegan tasting and handed over our voucher.
We sat down, only two busy tables around us. Water and two glasses of champagne were served. The champagne, which was part of the gift voucher, was absolutely delicious.
The decoration was minimalist, the tables donning a white tablecloth, a small vase with red roses and a red lamp oil candle. There was a fireplace with very subtle decoration in it but most of the walls were bare and white. All of the waiters seemed French, which totally added to the ‘haute cuisine’ atmosphere.
At first, we both felt a little bit uncomfortable as it was all too posh and very silent. We would talk in whispers. But the feeling soon turned into excitement.
The staff brought us the menu, which differed from the website menu, to see if we were happy with it. We didn’t ask for any changes. We asked for the wine list instead which was as thick as the bible (lol). A very extensive wine list with quality (and pricy) wines. I didn’t feel like drinking any more than my champagne glass, but my boyfriend had a £15 wine glass. He loved the wine.
The vegan tasting experience
We were giving a small entree with cassava crips, an avocado dip, hummus dip, watermelon squares covered in spices and raw whole radishes in a basket. Everything, and particularly the radish, was delicious. We ate it all but didn’t finish the whole basket of radishes – there were eight courses ahead and I didn’t want to get full too soon.
Soon after that, the first course arrived. It was a beautifully presented Charentais Melon Gazpacho with Confit & Cream Fennel. It was delicious, fresh and of a beautiful pink colour.
We both ate at the speed of light so it was quickly time for the next course. After a few more minutes, it arrived, a Cauliflower ‘Curd’ with Australian Summer Black Truffle and Raw Cauliflower Salad. The curd was warm and tasty. Also very nice.
The third course was Baked Heritage Beets with Celery Root & Horseradish Purée and Toasted Almond. I hate beet, together with fennel which I left aside on the first course, however these beets I loved! Their flavor was neutral while regularly beets have a very strong flavour which is what I hate. I ate it all. The pink things were some kind of small meringues.
The next one was my favourite. It was Stuffed Courgette Flower with Basil Marinated Tofu and Tomato Crips. The courgette flower was inexplicably good, not sure what the stuffing was. The tofu and courgette combo was also yummy. By this point, I was full. But still, four more courses to go!
The fourth course was my boyfriend’s favourite. It’s worth noting he would not ever eat beet, courgette, cauliflower and less so, aubergine. The course was a Confit & Roasted Aubergine with Dill & Pine Nut Jasmine Rice and a Saffron Tuille. He said it tasted like beef! The aubergine was tender and smoky.
Now, desserts were up! The first one was my favourite dessert. It was Poached English Rhubarb, Rhubarb & Strawberry shortbread and Strawberry Sorbet. The square wall was a pink crunchy caramel wall. It had some sort of cream inside which tasted like ‘real’ cream.
Next up, a Blackberry Bacherin with Lime & Blackberry sorbet. It was not only beautiful but also refreshingly tasty.
And last but not least, a Raspberry & Chocolate Tart with Crispy Cocoa & Pistachio Oatmeal, Fresh Raspberries and Raspberry Sorbet. The tart came with a birthday note and candle for me to blow. The waiter also brought a coffret and asked me to choose one of the various letters inside it. I chose a random one, opened it, found a birthday message from Alexis Gauthier and was also informed I had won a copy of his vegetarian(ish) book Vegetronic. Although not vegan, it does have some vegan recipes. I was smiling ear to ear.
All I can say is: it was the perfect birthday present! It was nice to find out that vegan food can taste that good, although to be honest I’m a bit sad I can’t eat this every day. I did peek the price, the vegan menu is £65 which in my opinion is totally worth it, and more so in a special occasion. To all those with vegan boyfriends, girlfriends, sons, daughters, friends or siblings, this is can be a good point for a present, I give faith!
Author’s note: this is not a paid post, and this is entirely my unbiased opinion