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Candid Reviews: Gazelle, Mayfair
February 20, 2019
When you read restaurant reviews, there is nothing chefs hate more than being mentioned as ex-chef at *insert pioneering great restaurant here*. They want people to focus on their current venture and I generally ignore such comments. However, I do make the odd exception such as when I hear ex-El Bulli (having never made it to the esteemed restaurant myself) and this was the case when I visited Gazelle in Mayfair with Head Chef Rob Roy Cameron at the helm (could you get a more majestic Scottish name?).
This is the type of restaurant you can interpret in very different ways. You might feel it is exclusive hidden-gem, being on the first 2 floors of an Edwardian building on Albemarle street with little signage on the ground floor and accessible by a private lift. Or you might think, this is the best way to save exorbitant rent fees in Mayfair by not being on street level.
Personally, I would recommend visiting the restaurant in the brightness of daytime (I went in the evening), when you can readily appreciate the tremendous work that has gone into designing this temple of gastronomic delights.
Warm reds walls, exposed brickwork, gold curtains and plush velvet seating all add a sense of glamour and decadence to the proceedings. And my second mistake of the night was not venturing up to the 2nd floor, Emerald Room, which I hear is also filled with colour and vibrancy and serves some fantastic cocktails from award-winning drinks expert, Tony Conigliaro, and his Drink Factory team.
However, my focus was on the food in the restaurant. You will struggle in vain to discern which dishes are starters and which are mains on their curious-looking menu. This, after all, is from a chef who worked at El Bulli, so you wouldn’t expect your culinary experience to follow classical routes.
To get the negative out first, the dishes are small here and it perplexes me when restaurants always say “small sharing plates”. Surely you want to savour those yourself?
I started off with oyster (yes singular) and it was served warm with a yeast emulsion that helped to concentrate the already rich flavours within the oyster.
Next came coconut snow, cucumber, and oscietra caviar, which was stunning to look at and resembled a snowy playing field. The caviar had a delicate, buttery flavour which contrasted well with the cleaner tasting coconut and cucumber.
The next two dishes could easily be confused as pasta, but were thinly sliced mushroom, served in pine nut sauce with pickled wild garlic and slivers of squid with sandalwood oil, cured jowl, and girolles. Ingredients cut-thinly into pasta shapes aren’t uncommon in cosmopolitan London these days, but the careful pairing with the right companion ingredients is remarkable here. For the latter dish, the sandalwood oil gave the dish a woody, calming scent whilst the jowl and girolles added a depth of savouriness to the dish.
The monkfish was another winner drenched in a glossy green sauce, which I assume comes from the pistachio listed in the ingredients. The only problem is with all these great tasting dishes, you want to order another 3 portions; but as some people might say, great restaurants always leaves you wanting more.
Dessert is no less inventive with the likes of matcha tea mousse, white chocolate bubbles, and chocolate passion fruit mousse, winter savoury meringue.
Gazelle is a restaurant that demands attention and is worth checking out, but make sure you have a hearty breakfast or lunch before going.
For more information on Gazelle, see here.
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