Les Trois Garcons, amazing place a Shoreditch

Stobbe_2014_5_12_les_trois_garcon__10A3450Sto per raccontarvi, senza ombra di dubbio, del ristorante più incredibile in cui io abbia mai mangiato. Siamo a Shoreditch, nel cuore di questo quartiere di Londra che riserva sorprese in ogni dove. E Les Trois Garcons è indiscutibilmente una di queste: un ristorante francese raffinato ed elegante, in cui la cucina e l’ambiente stesso ti lasciano senza fiato. E non sono frasi fatte.

Ricordo ancora con un po’ di emozione quando ho varcato la soglia del locale, in una tranquilla serata di primavera. Era un giovedì sera, il giorno clou per la movida londinese, quello in cui è impossibile mangiare senza prenotazione. Beh, io  con un po’ di fortuna, pur non avendo riservato un tavolo, sono riuscita a trascorrere una piacevolissima serata in questo locale che per me ha qualcosa di magico.

Aperto nel 2000 da Hassan Abdhula (malese), Stefan Karson (svedese) e Michel Lasserre (francese), deve il suo nome al primo anno di apertura, quando lo chiamavano Les Trois Garcons riferendosi ai titolari come ai “tre camerieri”. Ma con il passare del tempo, i soci furono comunemente conosciuti come “i tre ragazzi”, e così sono chiamati ancora oggi.

Hassan, Michel e Stefan hanno aperto la loro società di interior design nei primi anni del 1990: appassionati di oggetti d’arte e di antiquariato, possiedono una collezione indiscutibilmente eclettica che è parte integrante del locale e lo rende, già solo per questo, un luogo davvero unico.

L’avventura de Les Trois Garcons è partita dall’idea di acquistare una casa dove vivere e in cui poter mostrare agli amici la loro collezione. Trovata questa vecchia casa vittoriana, un tempo utilizzata dall’industria tessile e in seguito trasformata in un pub dove bere gin – che veniva distillato in cantina – se ne sono innamorati. Così hanno comprato l’edificio e l’hanno convertito in una casa con la loro collezione privata distribuita nei vari piani dell’edificio. Solo dopo quattro anni Hassan, Michel e Stefan hanno deciso di riutilizzare il piano terra trasformandolo in un ristorante: il primo di questo standard a Shoreditch e per questo motivo, da molti, sono stati considerati dei folli. Ma oggi la loro scommessa è stata vinta poiché il quartiere si è trasformato nell’area di maggior fermento e tendenza dell’intera Londra.

Il locale, che ha mantenuto l’aspetto originale  di epoca tardo vittoriana, è arricchito come dicevo, da una collezione sorprendente di animali imbalsamati (non me ne vogliano gli animalisti) vestiti con corone, diademi, collane e bracciali, ma anche di oggetti vintage sapientemente disposti per arricchire l’atmosfera della sala ristorante. Il menu è rigorosamente classico francese, ma possiede anche una leggera influenza asiatica. “Qui – spiega Fabien Babanini, General Manager del ristorante – utilizziamo però solo ingredienti che provengono dall’Inghilterra, fatta eccezione per il foie gras che arriva dalla Francia. Gli ingredienti freschi sono alla base di tutti i nostri piatti che vengono preparati esclusivamente su ordinazione, seguendo un menu che cambia in base alla stagione e alla disponibilità dei prodotti”.

In cucina lo chef è Michael Chan: di Brisbane con una madre australiana e un padre cinese. “Michael – spiega sempre Babanini – ha lavorato nella nostra cucina negli ultimi 7 anni ed è diventato il nostro chef capo da 3 anni e mezzo. Dopo aver imparato molto sui piatti classici francesi, ora lo stiamo incoraggiando a usare un pò più della sua eredità asiatica nel nostro menù per darci quella piccola originale innovazione”. Foie Gras, lumache in salsa “beurre blanc” con aglio e peperoncino dolce sono tra i must del locale, insieme a un classico Chateaubriand, e a pollo e aragosta laksa che sono i due piatti più “oltraggiosi” del menu.

Nel ristorante, in cui lavorano 7 chef, è inoltre possibile cenare in una piccola sala privata chiamata “tavolo dello Chef” che si trova tra la cantina vittoriana e la cucina: un luogo riservato ad un massimo di 10 persone, raccolto, intimo e curioso perché affaccia direttamente sulla cucina.

 

Tutte le foto presenti in questo articolo sono di (c) Thorsten Stobbe

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Flag_UK English Interview to Fabien Babanini, General Manager Les Trois Garcons

 

 

 

What is the story of this restaurant? Our restaurant has been open in 2000 by Hassan Abdhula (from Malaysia), Stefan Karson (from Sweden) and Michel Lasserre (from France). As they were running the restaurant the first year of opening, they called it “Les Trois Garcons” with the meaning of “the three waiters”. But as time passed, they were known as “les trois Garcons” with the meaning of “the three boys” which remained to this day.

Stobbe_2014_5_12_les_trois_garcon__10A3462Hassan, Michel and Stefan started their interior design company in the early 1990’s and became very successful. They always have been keen collectors of art objects and antiques and have a very eclectic collection under their name at present.

The boys were originally looking to buy a house for themselves were they could display their collection for their own pleasure. Finding the right property for such an diversified collection was quite a challenge, which take them eventually to Shoreditch. They found this property a little by luck and fell in love with it instantly. It is an old Victorian House, first used in the textile industry and later converted into a drinking house where gin was being distilled in the basement. This is from this time (late Victorian era) that all features originate, like the bar itself, the tiles in the entrance, one of the massive mirror in the entrance, the floor, the mouldings and fireplaces on the different levels. They bought the building and converted it into their house with their collection carefully spread on the different floors. They leave there since 1996 and 4 years later decided to re-use the ground floor as a restaurant, something they always wanted to have.

They were the first restaurant of this standard in this area and a lot of people who knows them thought they were barking mad to move in this area. They proved everybody wrong by opening their cocktail bar “The Loungelover” around the corner from L3G in 2004 and in 2013, their coffee shop in Redchurch street. They are still leaving above the restaurant to this day.

What is the philosophy of this place? Most of the features in the building are the original from the late Victorian era, spiced up by their collection. The stuffed animals came as an afterthought coming across them at an auction and ending up buying them to put part of their collection on display (Mainly, crowns, Tiaras, Necklaces and bracelets dressing up these animals. Hardly anything has been changed structure wise in the building. They wanted something different and fun in their dining room.

What is the philosophy of the menu? How often the menu changes during the year? The menu is Classic French with a slight Asian twist to it. We do however only source ingredients from England at the exception of our duck liver for our foie gras that comes from France. We only use fresh ingredients and all our dishes are cooked on order. The menu changes following the season and products availability.

Stobbe_2014_5_12_les_trois_garcon__10A3558
Michael Chan

Who is the chef and how much chef’s personality in there inside of each dish? The chef’s name is Michael Chan. He is from Brisbane, Australia, from an Australian mother and Chinese farther. He has worked the rank in our kitchen for the past 7 years and has taken the kitchen as a head Chef 3 ½ years ago. After being trained on classical french dishes, we now encourage him to use a bit more of his Asian heritage in his menu to give us that little twist I mentioned earlier.

I have noticed that there is a great deal of attention to the quality of the products served. How do you choose it? Our suppliers are carefully selected and our daily deliveries thoroughly check for the quality of our ingredients. One of the greatest thing about London is that there is fierce competition on the Market of food and that when your restaurant is known, suppliers come to you with their products.

Which are the “must dishes” of the restaurant? At present, I would say our Foie Gras which is absolutely fantastic, The snails in a garlic and sweet chilli “beurre blanc” proved to be a success as well. One of our classic that the Chateaubriand for 2 is coming back very soon as well as our chicken and lobster laksa which must be the 2 most outrageous dishes on our menu.

I noticed a certain contrast between the place (with all the decors) and a refined cuisine with simple tastes. Why this choice? A lot of people think the restaurant has been designed that way but it hasn’t. It is a not so simple home with a not so simples decorations spawn around the room at leisure as we all do (on a much bigger scale with fascinating and amazing pieces I ‘ll give you that). However, we do believe that beauty and test works together but if we were to cook the way the room is, I wonder what kind of result we would get. No, Food is always best at his simplest and true skills from the chef is to make the flavours of each ingredients explode in your mouth. And we are also known for being classic french with a twist, so there you are.

I read that you can dine watching the chef cook. Why this choice? We have a small private room called the Chef’s table. This is located between our Victorian cellar and our kitchen (separated by a glass window so that you can see but not hear nor feel the heat of the service). The chef’s table is only or group of a minimum 8 guests and an absolute maximum of 10 at dinner time only (except December). It is advisable to reserve it well in advance as it is very popular for business dinners, celebratory dinners etc…

How many people works in the kitchen? We have a brigade of 7 chefs in total.

I had breakfast also to Maison 3 Garson. When did it open? What is its philosophy? Maison 3 Garcons open in April 2013. They have their own separate brigade in their own kitchen. This was the Antique Shop from the boys that they decided to refurbish and wanted to create an area where people could have tea and cake if they wanted to. As the refurbishment went along, they converted the entire space into the café. It is open 7 days a week from 8am to 6pm and offer food and drinks all day long.

All the pics of this article were taken by (c) Thorsten Stobbe

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