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  • Christina Pickard

Le Gavroche: a beer tasting at London’s most iconic restaurant

A few weeks ago I got an email from Rosamund Barton, co-founder of drinks PR company R&R Teamwork, inviting me to be her guest at a beer and food paring dinner at Le Gavroche.

Yep, that Le Gavroche.  Michel Roux’s Le Gavroche.  The first London restaurant to bring top end French cuisine to British shores in the 1960s, and to be awarded three Michelin stars.  Where chefs like Marco Pierre White and Gordon Ramsay first donned aprons, and where you’ll have to join the waiting list for a table.

Let’s just say I cleared my calendar.

Our hosts that night were Alastair Scott, director of Catton Hospitality which has several pubs around the country including The Square and Compass, soon to open in Harrogate, along with Rosamund and her business partner, the beer guru Rupert Ponsonby.

In order to avoid inducing uncontrollable tummy rumbling, I’ll just run you through a few of my favourite pairings of the evening:

The highlight was the Belgian Liefmans Kriek, made from brown beer macerated with fresh whole cherries paired with seared tuna with chili, ginger, and sesame dressing.  This was one of those heavenly moments in food and drink matching where visions of angels appear before you singing a chorus of ‘hallelujah’ at every mouthful.  My fellow dinner guests and I could think of no better pairing than the sweet and sour cherry freshness of Liefmans Kriek (drunk out of a martini glass) to cut through the charred peppery outside of the raw glistening pink tuna.  This is one of those pairings that will go down in foodie history.

James Coyle, the sales and marketing director of the Marston empire was on hand to answer our questions about Pedigree, an ale brewed in old oak casks and served in a Burgundy glass.  It was paired with slow cooked falling-off-the-bone braised lamb shanks in a Madeira sauce with creamy potatoes ad crunchy broccoli.  The pretty honey and orange blossomed Pedigree held its own against the rich sauce.

We also were able to try an oak aged beer from Innis and Gunn, served in a Bordeaux glass.  It was much richer with caramel and toffee overtones and was a splendid paring with the lamb.  As a stand alone beer even without food, this was perhaps my favourite of the evening and one I’ll definitely be cracking open in the near future.

For dessert, another two beers were put on trial.  Paired with a warming oozing chocolate fondant with milk ice cream and served in brandy balloon glasses, sipping 

Meantime‘s raspberry wheat beer was like having a splash of tangy coulis over the chocolate with a dose of mouth-puckering acidity for good measure.  Apparently this beer can age for quite a few years, so I’d love to taste it in several stages of its life.  As an extra treat, Nick Miller, the CEO of Meantime Brewery was one of our dinner guests, and kindly put up with my pestering questions.  I learned as well that Rupert and Rosamund designed the unique bottle shape for Meantime, making it stand out gracefully when on a shelf full of competition.

In complete contrast to the zippy freshness of the Meantime, the Brakspear Triple was almost like a dessert on its own.  To me it smelled of rum raisin ice cream, and its molasses-like texture was a stunning match with the chocolate fondant.

Michel Roux Jr.

As a fairly recent convert to beer, I am constantly (and pleasantly) surprised by its versatility and its ability to pair with foods.  No other event has so far proven this fact more than dinner at Le Gavroche, and Michel Roux (who came to our table to confirm this–admittedly I was a little star struck) firmly believes the same.  If only more women could experience beer like I have, served at the right temperature and in glasses suited to each particular style, rather than warm in a heavy soap stained pint glass.  I believe there’d be many more converts into the male-dominated world of beer.

If you’d like to learn more about beer, head to Rosamund and Rupert’s info packed site Beer Genie.

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