Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Le Gavroche, Horse, Tesco and Michel Roux Jr.

We went for dinner to Le Gavroche last night. This could have been yet another post by me praising this great restaurant. Waxing lyrical about everything in the restaurant, food, service and atmosphere, would have been easy. But yet again this wonderful restaurant has delightfully surprised us.

You must have heard about the huge controversy about horsemeat being found in hamburgers. These hamburgers were being sold by Tesco, a large British supermarket. I agree that it is not a high end supermarket but all the same, selling horsemeat is not on. It was later found that so called Beef Lasagne or Lasagne Bolognaise being sold by the frozen food brand `Findus’ also contained horsemeat.

I had written about this this in January when the scandal broke. The problem was not so much that horsemeat was bad or poisonous, no; it was more an issue of gross mislabelling and thereby misleading a consumer. You could also say that there was an element of cheating as horsemeat was far cheaper than beef and you were ostensibly selling a product as beef and were actually selling horsemeat.

This controversy generated a fair amount of heat. However, in my view, there was universal acceptance that (i) horsemeat was not bad, in fact it could be healthier than beef (ii) if people are not willing to spend good money on food, you are bound to have this sort of adulteration somewhere along the line. God only knows what is sold to us in India. We shall leave that question un answered for now.

Anyway, Michel Roux Jr. the owner and Chef at Le Gavroche was interviewed by the Times in London on the matter of horsemeat. Chef Roux said that ‘the problem is misrepresentation and mislabelling: selling a beef product that has got horsemeat in it. That’s criminal and someone should pay for that, most definitely. But funnily enough, I do a lot of cooking demos with crowds of people and I ask, ‘OK, straw poll, how many of you here have actually eaten horsemeat voluntarily?’ There’s always a good show of hands. And then next question, ‘How many of you would actually buy horsemeat were it available in your butcher or supermarket?’ The show of hands is bigger. Now that says something. It says people are curious and no longer afraid of taking that step, of taking that jump. It’s a bit like snails 20 years ago. Put snails on the menu then and no one would eat them.”

The interviewer then asked whether Michel Roux Jr. will be putting horsemeat on the menu of Le Gavroche.

“Horse? I’m toying with the idea; why not? It could be interesting. It’s not illegal to sell it in this country. The problem is being able to get a good supply, a really good supply. I think the last bona fide horse butcher closed down in ’57 or something. It was a Newcastle guy.”

Yes, my dear readers, one of the specials of the day at Le Gavroche was `Filet de Cehval Grille Sauce Au Vin Rouge Et Poivre Vert’ - Grilled Horse Fillet Steak with Red Wine and Green Peppercorn Sauce. Le Gavroche had got a really good supply. There was no question in my mind. I had to have Horse as my main course. The Maitre’d taking the order asked how I would like it cooked. I told her truthfully, I have never eaten Horse, so I had no idea. She asked how I ate my beef, to which I replied, medium. So, Grilled Horse Fillet Medium it was for me.

The specials for the night
It was very nice. Honestly, truthfully and without trying to bullshit you, it tasted exactly like a decent Beef Steak. It had no fat and it was extremely tender, and I can promise you, you would not know the difference. I also woke up the next morning hale and hearty and I am not neighing!

`Filet de Cehval Grille Sauce Au Vin Rouge Et Poivre Vert’ - Grilled Horse Fillet Steak with Red Wine and Green Peppercorn Sauce

The cynics among you will say that Michel Roux Jr. is a shameless publicity hound, sensationalist and so on, serving Horsemeat. Well his restaurant must have made a lot of money serving a portion of Horsemeat at an eye popping 39 GBP. But, my dear readers, you can say what you want, Michel Roux Jr. can never do any wrong, and he is really one of the coolest guys on this planet. Looking around, lots of orders for Horsemeat coming. I honestly admire the courage of the man serving Horse. I admire the fact that he went that extra mile sourcing the meat, experimenting how best to cook it, teaching his staff how to cook it and training the front of house how to offer it to diners. And you know what is most courageous, serving it without fear that some PETA or horse lovers come and demonstrate at your door!

Three cheers to Michel Roux Jr. and the Le Gavroche.

When Chef Michel Roux Jr.came to shake hands, we told him how brave he was and what a great time we had. He really and truly is a bright shining star.

The rest of the meal paled in comparison to the bold statement made by the Horse.

Lobster Salad with Truffle Dressing and Fresh Truffles

The box of Truffles

Roast Scallops with Pumpkin Salted Almonds and Sage

Roast Saddle of Rabbit with Crispy Potato and Parmesan

Bitter Chocolate & Praline Indulgence with Gold Leaf

Crunchy Tuile filed with Rich Amedei Chocolate Orange Salad and Confit
With the best Chef in the world

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