Is there anything more Gallic than arriving at a restaurant to see a sullen dog laying on the pavement outside waiting for his owners to finish their meal? Walking up Charterhouse Street from Chancery Lane tube on a Saturday is an odd experience to say the least.
Smithfields market is eerily silent with little traffic at the weekend and there wasn’t a lot to let us know we were on the right track. We arrived after what seemed like a hell of a walk but was in reality only a couple of minutes up the road.
The canine doorman could barely stretch to more than a cursory glance in our general direction as we stepped through the threshold.
Comptoir Gascon is the little brother to Club and Cellar Gascon and comes across as a charming and intimate venue, small tables, bare plaster and a smattering of old wood all adds to the fantastic ambiance.
I would go so far as to say it is the ideal place for a date, I on the other hand was here with my lovely Lady and her parents but it was good all the same. The service definitely was attentive, relaxed and very friendly so this little beauty was ticking a lot of boxes straightaway.
Once through the door and the menu was put in front of me I’m immediately hit by the realisation that I actually want to eat everything. It all looks, sounds and more importantly smells good. . In the end I went for the Duck Rillettes; they were soft, unctuous and was beautifully seasoned.
I wistfully drifted off into another world whilst eating it; it must be something about the soft meat and the way it’s been poached in its own fat but I was in heaven with my starter. The Lady chose the Chicory and Blue cheese salad which was simple but well executed and more importantly quite plentiful as it was delicious.
For mains I went for Pork Belly with Mushrooms and Parsnip Puree. It was again simple and delicious but I was quite disappointed with the portion size. Served in a large dish the two pieces of belly were swamped by the puree and though it was gorgeous and perfectly smooth it cried out for more piggy goodness to help mop it up.
I don’t normally order sides but I’m glad I did as I would have certainly left hungry had I not. I will say though the crackling was fan-bloody-tastic, perfectly even and uniform across the meat. All our mains were excellent, I know I am running out of superlatives here but for the price I was really quite surprised by the quality.
By this point the Champagne and the quite amazing bottle of Montravel were doing their job and we ordered our desserts but not coffee. I went for the Crème Brulee and those new to the blog won’t realise the tradition but it is my barometer of taste.
I was sadly a little disappointed with it and a little surprised after they’d got so much else right. It was served in a shallow dish, and texturally didn’t gain a fan here as it had almost turned and had that almost scrambled egg quality in places. I’m more than happy to put that down to a mere blip as everything else was so spot on.
I would definitely recommend trying Comptoir Gascon out and for the price I’ll definitely be back for the piggy treats and I have to try the Cassoulet as well.