A visit to a local Michelin Starred restaurant and Moules !

This week saw us wandering down the road to a restaurant near by. Himself had a birthday and as such we went to Le Gavroche, owned by Michel Roux Junior. He is probably best known for being one of the leading lights of Master Chef, the professionals, but also he is the son of Albert, who along with his brother Michel had the very famous Waterside Inn.

Le Gavroche which means The Paperboy or Urchin and the Logo is just that, a Parisian ragamuffin, just think of Les Miserables. Le Gavroche was started by the Roux brothers and today is run by Michel Jr. ( although he has now dropped the Jr. title.)

The restaurant is on a small Mayfair street, next to the Old USA Embassy, one almost misses it walking down the street, a small glass fronted door, a door bell and a smart young doorman opens it and meets and greets before escorting down the stairs to a discreet dining room which is deceptively large but one’s table gives everyone the feeling that they are in a relatively small dining room. The most I could see at any one time were a mere 17!

The menu is relatively small, a tasting menu which can be served with a wine flight or not and a small à La carte, which basically repeated parts of the tasting menu though with larger portions. We chose the À La Carte. Himself chose the Fagottini aux Champignons, Ragoût de Morilles, Fèves et Madère, Ail des Ours and myself the Seared scallops, with sea vegetables and a smoked eel sauce.

For our main, he had Longe de Veau, Petits Pois, Oignons et Salade Sucrine whilst I took the Côtelettes d’Agneau Rôties, Courgette et sa Fleur Farcie, Ail Noir.

For dessert, he insisted that I take the cheese ( just so he could sample some of mine, and he got a mini birthday cake. The bottom line:- the service impeccable, the ambiance really nice as the room felt small and intimate and the food great. Also a wonderful place to people watch and we will go again I am sure!

Back to more mundane things, cooking at home. I had a fish delivery this time from Sykes. What I had forgotten very simply, the fish comes already frozen. This normally does not pose a problem, fish frozen at sea is far better than buying it fresh and then freezing at home. However, I ordered 2 kilos of mussels for which I didn’t really have room for in the freezer and so it was to be mussels for dinner.

As a family, we all eat mussels. Having spent 13 years living in Belgium, where Moules Frites are a national dish how could we not. Our favourite Moules restaurant was Au Vieux Bruxelles. A Hole in the Wall kind of place. Not huge but always busy. In our day it was impossible to book so arriving early was de rigour, or be prepared to wait, and often in the rain. Although they do serve other Belgian specialities, they are renowned for their Moules Frites.as you can see they served them in 11 different ways, ranging from plain to the exotic.

At home we have cooked Moules in a variety of ways but mostly Marinères ( cooked in white wine with tomatoes, garlic and onions. This time round we more or less made Thai mussels with garlic, lemon grass, chillies and lots of coconut milk. As the mussels had been frozen, they were already clean and de-bearding them not necessary.

  • For two hungry people
  • 2 kilos of mussels
  • 4 tablespoons oil ( we used sesame oil)
  • 1 large-Ish white onion finely chopped
  • 4-8 cloves garlic crushed
  • Two or more stems of Lemon grass chopped
  • Spoonful of chillies in oil or some chopped chillies according to taste. You don’t like spicy ? Add some paprika instead.
  • 1can chopped tomatoes
  • 2cans full fat coconut milk
  • 2 lemons squeezed
  • A squirt (1”) tomato paste
  • Some salt to taste
  • Very simply
  • Sauté the onion, lemon grass and garlic in the oil until soft but not brown, add the tomatoes, tomato paste and the coconut milk.
  • Bring to the boil, add the mussels, turn to simmer, put on the lid and simmer for about 5 minutes, giving a good shake a couple of times.
  • Remove the lid, check that the mussels have all opens, discard those that have not and serve by squeezing over the lemon juice. Traditionally served with Frites, but we had them with sourdough bread!

Yummy indeed.