Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Confit doesn't like me - Cellar Gascon, Clerkenwell

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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.

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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.


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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.

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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".


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Poor Grubworm - he'd been enjoying it up till now (more or less). But he's a plucky young chap and decided to make the best of a bad job and finish it anyway. The polenta really was very good though.

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.

Cellar Gascon
57 West Smithfield
London EC1A 9DS
020 7796 0600

Club Gascon on Urbanspoon

16 comments:

  1. that looks bloody nice though, the Piggy Treats looked amazing, the Gascons are firmly on the list of places to visit!

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  2. I think that's a problem more with rabbit than confit. I've always found the texture a bit difficult - even slow cooking makes it stringy rather than moist - and I know what you mean about it feeling as though it was pre chewed - it's one of those things that always have fibres that offer resistance in the mouth, no matter how tenderised (if that makes sense).

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  3. The rabbit even looks pre-chewed; oddly enough, I have the same problem with lettuce - there's always one piece that seems to come pre-loaded with glue and sticks to the roof of my mouth.

    And what is it with places that expect you to perch uncomfortably on a stool while trying to digest food? - bleugh. And a mark taken away for the attitude of the waitress.

    But the rest of it looks great; the Piggy Treats looks spectacular and I would definitely have contemplated encompassing it solo!

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  4. Yum. I love Piggy Treats - such a fun sharer (though I'd always rather not..) You must go to the restos too, M Aussignac does amazing things with foie gras.

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  5. Those lumps of rabbit look pretty gross, to say the least.

    The piggy treats though... ooooh....

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  6. A fine nudibranch reference, definitely the first mention of the creatures I've ever seen on a food blog.

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  7. Actually, those rabbit nuggets did bear some sort of passing resemblance to Foie Gras. In terms of texture at least. I still have no idea how they managed to do that to them. Never-the-less I was doing fine until Meemalee brought up the pre-chewed food analogy... And then the clagginess did start to get a little much.

    Goodness me the polenta and piggy treats were good though. It's made me want to head to Comptoir more than ever.

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  8. @Paul aka Pavel Le Bouche - Get a shorter username, man.

    @Catherine - C'est possible, I have had problems with rabbit in the past.

    @chumbles - Yeah, the piggy treats were brilliant. There was some rillettes as well which you can't see in the picture.

    @BSG - I will, I will!

    @Lizzie - The visuals should have been a warning really.

    @Joshua - Why thank you, kind sir.

    @The Grubworm - Give it up, dude. They were nothing like Foie Gras.

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  9. @Pavel - Thass more like it.

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  10. @Meemalee, i only meant texture wise, and that is not necessarily a good thing...

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  11. Hmm I think its always better to have rabbit in small pieces.
    The Piggy Treats look lush and there looks a LOT OF THEM!

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  12. Oof, quite a judgmental waitress no? She can go stuff it. What you drink shouldn't be her business.

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  13. I'm seriously envious of the Clerkenwell lunch club! If only I still worked in Holborn I'd be right there with you - although possibly not here.

    I wouldn't want to sit on a stool either.

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  14. Wow that is an excellent lunch deal for £10! I have been to Club Gascon many years ago, but never to Cellar Gascon but will definitely go there now after reading your review.

    Luiz @ The London Foodie

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  15. @The Grubworm - Like pre-chewed foie gras.

    @Northern Snippet - You could tackle that porky platter - I know it :)

    @Su-Lin - Hear hear!

    @Sarah, Maison Cupcake - If you ever find yourself in the area again, please join us!

    @Luiz, the London Foodie - Oh, I'd definitely go again :)

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Thanks for taking the time to comment!