Founded in 1967 by  Michel and Albert  Roux, Le Gavroche has stood as a bastion of French culinary excellence for over 50 years. The first restaurant in the UK to be awarded three Michelin stars, it played a key role in training and inspiring chefs who went on to put British restaurants on the map. Marco Pierre White, Gordon Ramsay and Marcus Wareing being three of the household names who came through its kitchen. 

Located in the heart of London’s Mayfair the restaurant’s culinary philosophy has always revolved around classic French techniques infused with contemporary creativity. The menu showcased seasonal ingredients meticulously sourced from the finest suppliers to ensure a symphony of flavours to tantalise the palate.

Stepping into Le Gavroche was like entering a world of elegance and refinement.When I am asked about my favourite meal I have to stop and think. but when asked about my favourite restaurant meal, I do not hesitate. Without a doubt, dinner at Le Gavroche was an unforgettable dining experience. Although it was many years ago, I can still remember the sublime chicken liver parfait with champagne sauce, followed by wild duck with fresh figs.  

Le Gavroche , with its opulent décor and impeccable service exuded a sense of warmth and hospitality, making every guest feel like royalty. It was back in the day when smoking was allowed in restaurants. I remember being struck at how the dedicated serving staff cleared ashtrays almost immediately after ash had hit porcelain. Yet they were never annoying or hovering as they served the food or topped up the wine and water glasses. Like elegant ghosts they seemed to perform their diners every need before being asked and then hover back to  keep a watchful eye for the next requirement.

So it is particularly sad for me to hear  Michel Roux Jr’s announcement that Le Gavroche will be closing. He says this is because he wants to spend more time with his family, but that may be a way to maintain his pride, as there have been prior indications of the restaurant struggling financially. Le Gavroche dropped to two Michelin stars soon after Roux Jr took over from his father, Albert Roux, and uncle Michel Roux Sr in 1991 – two massively respected culinary figures. Although in 2007 Le Gavroche was awarded: “Most Consistently Excellent Restaurant” at the Tatler Restaurant Awards. So perhaps the demise of this iconic Mayfair landmark has more to do with the dreaded Brexit fallout?

Brexit pushed up the price of imported products, a key cost for all  restaurants, and has made the hiring of skilled staff more difficult and expensive. Most top restaurants in the UK rely on the fine hospitality skills found over the channel, where waiting is seen as an art, not a dead-end job. For the next generation of restauranteurs in the UK,  Roux Jr has left a warning. It’s going to be tough and even Michelin stars nowadays are not enough to keep you afloat. 

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