Legendary Provençal chef Alexis Gauthier – who you’ll know from MasterChef or his superstar Soho restaurant – has partnered with the British Film Institute and taken over their beautiful Stephen Street premises, between Tottenham Court Road and Charlotte Street, to create the first new Gauthier restaurant in over a decade… just to prove you can be 100% plant-based and 100% glamorous at the same time.
The Story So Far
Having trained under Alain Ducasse at the three-Michelin starred Le Louis XV in Monaco, Gauthier hit the ground running in London, taking over as head chef at Roussillon in Pimlico, eventually garnering a Michelin star for the restaurant… and a Time Out Best Vegetarian award two years running.
In 2010 he opened his own quirky townhouse restaurant, Gauthier Soho, that would soon earn him not only a celebrity following – everyone from Sir Paul McCartney and Tom Cruise to Billie Eilish and Will.i.Am – but his own first Michelin star. And having become vegan, Gauthier turned the Romilly Street address plant-based, winning the Best Vegan Menu award from animal rights organisation, PETA.
Excited by a vegan future and not seeing any reason plant-based food should be less extravagant or interesting than anything with meat, fish or dairy, he has now moved north of Oxford Street to a space that is as large and airy as his Soho restaurant is small and intimate.
It’s the best-kept secret in the newly fashionable district of Fitzrovia, a huge ground-floor space in the British Film Institute building that houses their offices and screening suites. With Gauthier’s 123V Bakery and café at the front, which flips into a bar after hours, the action is towards the back, where jewel-coloured semi-circular booths are favourite for groups or – if you play your cards right – you might bag a table on the little parasol-ed terrace at the back. With an open kitchen and a bar at Studio Gauthier, there’s plenty to look at, while the décor is velvet-and-concrete sophisticated with mid-century lighting, splashes of colour and humour, like the torso wearing a sporting cup.
The Dining Experience
‘Vegan cuisine is truly liberating,’ says Gauthier. ‘A blank canvas, which thankfully is not shackled to traditions.’ That might explain a menu that seems to have no rules. Start with a signature cocktail named after a British screen siren – a Glenda Jackson vodka sour or a Joan Collins champagne cocktail – but definitely do not miss the Brioche Feuilletée with Piperade, a crumbly croissant-like creation served with a side of sweet red pepper.
Canapés and small plates include delights like Coriander Houmous and Aubergine and Kaffir Lime, though the Black Kelp Gauthier Caviar for two people is extraordinary, served with vegan blinis and ‘sour cream’ in a gorgeous retro-looking tin.
Then you get to choose between a sushi menu and larger plates – Korean spiced V-Tuna, Banana Blossom Tempura, Crispy Rice ‘Green Dynamite’, which is spicy tofu ‘crab’, or sushi tacos of soy duck wrapped in nori on one; Swiss Chard Pastis and Graffiti Aubergine, or Pithivier D’Été, a dome of a pie filled with summer mushrooms and served with a Blackberry Salad, on the other. Or mix them up.
And while vegans usually get palmed off with sorbets for dessert, here you get your choice of a take on a Strawberry Pavlova (delicious!), a Dark Chocolate Praline topped with gold leaf or Peach & Rose.
In A Nutshell
If the idea of a fully plant-based dinner – an upscale one! – leaves you rolling your eyes, then you really need to see what can be done with quality ingredients, the sort of skill Alexis Gauthier has picked up over his years in Michelin-starred establishments and a whole lot of imagination. Free your palate, and the rest will follow.
To discover more visit studiogauthier.co.uk
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All imagery courtesy of Studio Gauthier.