I ruddy love macarons. And my favourite so far are the prune and Armagnac ones from Comptoir Gascon, which have shimmering gold dust sprinkled on top (thus making me feel like P Diddy).
But despite frequent visits to satisfy my blingtastic cravings, until the other day, I'd never been to the other outposts in the Gascon empire ie Club Gascon and Cellar Gascon.
The Grubworm, Chris from Cheese and Biscuits and I had planned a rendezvous at Cellar Gascon. I turned up last to find G and C sitting on leather banks either side of a high table with a precarious-looking stool left for me. I took a look at the stool and thought, "That's not happening", but thankfully Chris gallantly offered his seat to me.
We were there for the express lunch menu comprising the dish of the day and a glass of wine for £10.
As you may already know, I don't really do wine, so I asked for a soft alternative only to get roundly mocked by the waitress, who then brought me a glass of cranberry and orange juice mixed with a dose of Gallic scorn.
Dish of the day was confit rabbit on polenta which Grubworm and I went for. Chris chose foie gras and some squiddy venture, and we decided to share a plate of charcuterie, flippantly named "Piggy Treats" on the menu.
Chris's foie gras looked rather delectable - though, perhaps in return for the Walter Raleigh moment, I refrained from helping myself. Not so with the squid, which the Grubworm and I fell upon, and our greed was rewarded by sweet and tender meat balanced by juicy, sharp chunks of orange.
The Piggy Treats were equally pleasing and perhaps the most attractive plate I have seen in a while, resembling a meaty flurry and actually living up to its whimsical moniker.
Then came the wabbit. Two fat pieces sat on a bed of soft, squooshy, deliciously rich polenta. It looked quite normal, and tasted rather lovely, but the texture - oh, the texture.
The first forkful went in my mouth, then headed north and smeared itself over the roof of my mouth. I tried to push it around with my tongue in an attempt to swallow, but it steadfastly refused to budge. There's a phobia called arachibutyrophobia - "fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of the mouth" - I was experiencing the leporine version in spades.
So I blenched, but I tried another forkful, as if the second might hurry along the first, but no joy - the rabbit didn't seem to be dissipating in volume or tenacity. It seemed more like food coming up than going down, and I suddenly said quietly, "It's like it's been pre-chewed".
We ended our meal with a shared cheese platter - a small but perfectly-formed French selection including nudibranchine shavings of a delicate semi-soft sheep’s cheese which I failed to make a note of. But I know you can get them all at Comptoir Gascon if that helps at all.
Did I enjoy it? Yes, yes, I did. I'd avoid the rabbit confit in future, but I rather liked the rest of it, patronization and all. I'll definitely swing by again.
57 West Smithfield
London EC1A 9DS
020 7796 0600