One of London’s most distinctive and longest-thriving restaurants, Club Gascon, will reopen next week with a dramatic new look and layout. Renovations to the grade II listed building in Smithfields, historically a Lyons Corner House, will afford Pascal Aussignac and his brigade a far bigger kitchen, as well as creating a semi-private 10-cover dining room. Club Gascon retained its Michelin star for 2018 at last week’s ceremony, regardless of the restaurant being closed.
The entirely new interior, with design by Fusion DNA (The Anthologist, Drake & Morgan, Cigalon) will be unveiled on Tuesday 17 October, along with a re-worked menu in three parts. Remaining faithful to Aussignac’s native region of southwest France, the à la carte offering will be conceptually divided into past, present and future. In plainer terms: a rundown of Aussignac’s classical hits; a set of dishes showcasing seasonal products; a menu focusing on vegetarian/vegan dishes. Examples, from former to latter, include braised veal sweetbreads, lobster sand and cuttlefish tagliatelle; grouse, popcorn and oyster; tulip flower, aigre-doux, quince, nuts and Jerusalem artichoke.
There will be a daily changing chef’s menu at dinner comprising of five or seven courses, with lunch starting from two courses. A tea pairing introduced last year will remain alongside sommelier selections from the wine list, of which much is directly imported from southwestern France.
Pascal Aussignac opened Club Gascon with business partner Vincent Labeyrie in 1998, and they’ve developed many offshoots since then, from the Comptoir Gascon deli on the other side of Smithfields to Chip + Fish kiosks in Westfield shopping malls. These diffusion lines built a brand without selling out Aussignac’s inspired creativity — a rare feat.
Pascal Aussignac says: “After 19 years of trade, and 16 years holding our Michelin star, the improvements we’ve made will help us to raise the restaurant to another level and provide a new experience for our diners. The space is absolutely beautiful now, and I am very proud of it. It’s been an important time for me and our team to really focus on what I want to cook and what type of service we want to deliver to our guests.”
Diminutive bar/lounge Le Bar, next door to the restaurant, will reopen at the same time. The renovations and conceptual restyling suggest a chef and investors with sizeable ambition — the sort that can be directed towards a certain tyre manufacturer.