Groupon Review – Les Trois Garcons:
I haven’t tried buying anything from Groupon for quite a while. It used to be one of the ways I got to eat in restaurants that I wanted to try. But, once I started writing restaurant reviews, that seemed like a bit of a busman’s holiday. I’ve also used Groupon in the past for special deals at the hairdresser, but since then I’ve found a salon and hairdresser that I love – so I don’t want to try new places. I think part of the problem may just have been that you need to keep checking. I’ve looked back through some of the Groupon newsletters and there HAVE been some fabulous offers. But, when I am busy or travelling I just don’t get the chance to look.
It actually took me quite a while to find an offer that I wanted. Some of the restaurant deals are for places where I’ve already reviewed – and I couldn’t find any beauty offers that worked for me (no jokes please!). But, Les Trois Garcons is somewhere I’ve wanted to visit for a long time. And the offer I picked – for the tasting menu on a two for the price of one basis – was one I thought sounded quite amazing. It’s normally £66 per person for a five-course tasting menu which is fairly typical of London pricing.
Les Trois Garcons, a few minutes walk from Shoreditch Station, has the look of an old Victorian pub from the outside. Inside, a cornucopia of stuffed animals, jewellery and handbags hanging from the walls and ceiling and dimmed lighting gives the place an ‘Old Curiosity Shop’ feel. But, the tablecloths are pristine, the silver immaculately polished and the staff smartly turned out. The tasting menu proved to be a great choice. Sometimes I’ve tried a tasting menu and ended up feeling hungry because you can be offered very small portions. Here, I’d suggest, the portion size is on the generous side for this type of menu. And, my food was without exception, excellent.
I did indulge and pick the paired wines, much to the chagrin of The Hedonist who was working later that night and couldn’t drink too much. But, again, the restaurant came good – the wine servings were very generous measures and for the most part, there was plenty to share.
My starter of Foie Gras ‘au torchon’ was deliciously indulgent. I’ve had to go away and check what ‘au torchon’ means – it is apparently a traditional way of preparing foie gras by curing it with cognac, poaching it and then pressing it in a towel (the torchon).
It was paired with a fabulous Sauternes Chateau Briatte 2006 – perfect for the delicate foie gras.
Of course, the pescatarian Hedonist needed an alternative, which came in the form of a white asparagus dish that looked and tasted fabulous.
Coquille Saint-Jaques sur gratin de topinambours could so easily have disappointed. But, the mixture of perfectly caramelised scallops with a delicate Jerusalem artichoke and chestnut gratin worked very well.
The matching wine, Terras Gauda Albarino Rias Baixas is a fresh minerally white wine that complemented the delicate scallops perfectly.
Cassoulet Asiatique was a ‘light Asian cassoulet of butter beans, broad beans and radish, monkfish tail seared with lap cheung sausage and served with a lemon verbena sauce’. And, it was indeed light, with delicate Asian notes and a comforting mixture of well-balanced ingredients that reminded me of some of the best Asian seafood soups.
Rully 1er cru Rabource Domaine Belleville was a creamy white burgundy that I would happily have drunk all evening. But perhaps not, as my next course was a lovely venison dish that was immaculately cooked and presented. I loved the little crispy wontons filled with braised venison. And of course, I loved the venison itself, which was tender and delicately spice cured.
The Eagle Vale Shiraz that accompanied my venison was, of course, quite delightful. But, by this stage, I was expecting nothing less.
We finished with Nougat Glace a la noix de coco (frozen coconut nougat) and a glass of Maury blanc.
All in the meal was fabulous and if I am honest, good value at full price let alone with the voucher. Matched wines were an additional £34 but unlike some restaurants, the measures were very generous. So, no issues at all with the food or wine. Some of the Groupon small print, though, did irritate me. Having ‘spent’ £66 on my Groupon voucher, the restaurant then asked for a further deposit of £25 per head. The restaurant manager explained that they do not get paid by Groupon if purchasers don’t show which strikes me as slightly bizarre since my understanding is that I couldn’t have had my purchase refunded. I have absolutely no problem with a deposit on bookings normally. But in the case of a Groupon purchase, from the consumer’s perspective that purchase is made when the Groupon is paid for and the booking made – the meal is already paid for.
And, personally, I would have preferred to pay a little more for the voucher and not been charged ‘double’ service (the charge for service is for the meal without the Groupon discount). But to not pay the service charge for such an excellent meal would have been petty and inappropriate given the quality of the evening.
To sum up, an excellent meal, a restaurant I’d happily recommend with or without a Groupon voucher but a few discomforts with the process. But, if you want a bargain, then it’s probably worth being patient and checking your Groupon newsletter regularly.
Disclaimer: I was provided with a Groupon credit in order to review the experience. All views expressed here are my own.
Les Trois Garcons
1 Club Row