The Grove Meets Le Gavroche

I’m a little late in writing this but hopefully it’s well worth the wait! I received an email newsletter and for once didn’t hit delete as it was the Auckland Restaurant Month email. Last year it was pretty awful but this year it seemed to be bigger, better and more serious. Hopefully it can compete with Wellington on a Plate soon of which I couldn’t get to.

The interest for me was to see Monica Galetti from Le Gavroche and Masterchef The Professionals UK TV series was coming to cook at The Grove. 3 Michelin Star legendary restaurant meets one of Auckland’s best, how could I not go!

It was $250 a head so a great night was expected. On arrival it was bubbles in the bar area and these were constantly topped up until time to move to the restaurant when we were introduced to our star chef. Chef Galetti is a Samoa-Kiwi hence I believe the reason for her return for the event and she was incredibly down to earth and very approachable with a clear passion for family and food.

So it was time to get serious the menu was well written and matched with some great NZ wines and featured a dessert straight from Le Gavroche. The menu was as follows:

  1. Duck Consommé with horseradish flan
  2. Ragout of Oysters with fresh truffles
  3. Octopus with Barley and saffron
  4. Lamb with black garlic tarragon and olive jus
  5. Blue Leagram Pannacotta with pear balsamic
  6. Palet au chocolate amer (Bitter chocolate mousse with praline)

So starting with the Duck Consommé, It was so rich in flavour and strangely for a consommé it seemed to have a real thick and creamy texture about it and the medley of seasonal vegetables complimented the duck brilliantly to make a stunning dish, I doubted there would be a more flavour full and better dish than this already.

Next up was the oysters and I was especially looking forward to some fresh truffles. The dish itself was very simple in presentation and the aroma of the table side grated white truffle was brilliant. However the truffles flavour didn’t match up a point which was to become irrelevant, the oysters were soft and creamy and the sauce, woah the sauce! The butter sauce was purely sensational, due to us being on the last table we had thought it strange why someone was asking for extra bread with this course but when you eat this sauce you fully understand. Again it was simple and fresh and to be honest I wanted to pick up my plate and lick it and suggested to our table if the whole restaurant licked their plate it wouldn’t look so bad.

My mum came with me for this and she happened to bump into the chef who told her after some conversation that the next dish was invented (but then she re-invented it) by her father and she also described it as a bit controversial. What she means is you will either love it or hate it. The octopus itself was cooked perfectly and was nice and tender. Saffron was listed on the menu as a main ingredient and well that’s certainly what you got as it was the predominant flavour by a country mile. The surface was a saffron orange colour and what you don’t see in the picture is below this was a jet black broth which contained the barley as well. I would agree if you don’t like saffron or octopus you probably wouldn’t like this dish, however I don’t mind both so enjoyed it.

The main event next and it was the lamb. I was happy to find that the jus' main flavour wasn't olives as I am not a lover of them in fact they are probably my most hated food item although I could drink olive oil but that's only a personal choice though. The colours again were a great contrast and to be honest on first look and cut the lamb seems to be undercooked and you can see what I mean from the photo if you look along the bone the fat is still looking white and raw BUT when you ate the lamb I realised how wrong I was. Soft, tender and a pleasure to eat. All in all probably the most plain dish flavour wise but that’s because the other dishes have packed such a punch if it was on another night I would have raved about this dish.

A cheese course next and a blue cheese pannacotta which was nice and piquant, smooth, very creamy and matched with some tasty balsamic pear and a crunchy pistachio coating which all made for a refreshing pre dessert course.

Next was a bit exciting for me, it was described by the chef as coming straight from Le Gavroche, I am not usually a big chocolate fan but I would make an exception on this occasion. Beautifully presented and well-tempered chocolate led the way for a praline crunch and a deliciously creamy mousse! It wasn’t heavy or rich even though it looked it (this is a good comment!) and was an absolutely perfect way to finish an excellent meal!

Usually I do an overall round up piece here but I find it hard to praise anymore! Let’s say it was worth the $250 and leave it there. I really hope that Auckland restaurant month continues to grow and that perhaps we can attract some superstars to cook with some of our own superstars. It would be poor form of me not to mention the great work from the front and back of house full time Grove team for helping with a great evening, the chefs very sheepishly came out to greet us all and they do an amazing job as do the front of house. Roll on Auckland restaurant month 2013!

Mother and Monica.....