I’m not much of a gourmet and definitely not a Michelin star hunter but sometimes the occasion calls for it. And so I recently indulged in a dinner at Pierre Gagnaire’s sketch Lecture Room and Library, a short walk off Oxford Circus station. Honestly, the website didn’t tell me much apart from giving me the feeling it might be an overly pretentious place… I was in for a very positive surprise.
Walking in, the girl at the entrance entertained us talking us through the art in the reception area, especially her favorite piece: a light art that spelt out LOVE if you moved your head quickly. Clearly this has nothing to do with the food and some may find this just too distracting. I personally enjoyed the entire experience that started right there in the funky entrance.
Once up the stairs, we entered our venue for the day, the Lecture Room and Library. The decor, very different from downstairs, was in colorful red and orange shades with comfortable armchairs in the image of a hip lecture room. The restaurant was very spacious, giving off an air of calm and peace.
Looking at the menu, I was too lazy to read all the details of the dishes (way too much sophistication for me) and chose what came to me naturally:
Lobster (there were other dishes with less straightforward names… Perfume of the Earth (£37), wth?? looked beautiful on my friend’s plate)
Native Blue Lobster / Jellified Sardine Infusion / Green Pepper with Horseradish / Red Orach Lobster Mousse / Traditional Bisque
Lobster Claws / Jersey Potato Salad
John Dory and Red Mullet
Pan-fried John Dory Fillet with Fresh Bay Leaves / Bouillabaisse with Baby Squid Red Mullet “Bellino” / Broccoli
That all accompanied by a fruity and lively white Australian wine recommended by our very pleasant waiter from same origin.
And… Last but not least…
Pierre Gagnaire’s Grand Dessert
Spiced Meringue / Bourbon Vanilla Ice Cream / Apricot and Basil Compote
Green Pepper Ice Cream / Raspberry and Tagete Marmalade / Coconut Shavings
White Peach and Lemon Verbena Bavaroise / Poached Peach / Rose Water Marshmallows Green Chartreuse Granité / Candied Kumquats / Rhubarb and Angelica Compote Strawberry Sorbet / Crispy Parmesan Cream / Balsamic Vinegar Tartlet
Pistachio Chocolate Frozen Parfait / Caramelised Almonds / Baileys Fudge
Six Desserts £30 (there’s also an option of three for £18)
As if this wasn’t enough, the attentive waiter did ask what occasion led us there that night and surprised us with a beautiful (and delicious) piece of chocolate cake.
All dishes were highly sophisticated, tastes with a finesse I have rarely experienced elsewhere (even with specific clockwise eating order of the starter plates). If you’re looking for a quick dinner, this is NOT the place to go (at the end of the night we were there for over three hours without even realizing). But equally, you won’t have to worry about being fed with miniature dishes that are only artistic to look at, because this will fill you up for sure. The waiters matched the food equality, not only being polite as required but genuinely friendly and warm.
Upside for me of course was that I didn’t have to see the bill at the end of the day. But even the one who did (a generally very critical man) said it was an experience that was worth the price tag.
The only regret? Not having had the time to wander around and have a look at the other bar.
So, if you have a special occasion (where someone else may foot the bill), give it a go!