Adjacent to Club Gascon, the Michelin-starred restaurant that made Pascal Aussignac’s name, is Cellar Gascon. One of the finest French wine bars in London – in 2011, it was in Gayot’s Top Ten London Wine Bars – it’s understated inside, with a décor of exposed brick, dark wood and leather chairs. The seats by the window are particularly lovely – exactly the sort of place to while away the hours with some top-notch charcuterie and a glass of “big red” the Gascon region does so well. One such wine is Madiran – almost black, it is full of character and deserves to be better known.
What makes Cellar Gascon unique is its close proximity to Aussignac’s fine dining establishment. Whilst being an altogether more relaxed affair, the bar feels more upmarket by osmosis.
In an unhurried atmosphere, knowledgeable staff serve patrons well-considered wines from southwestern France, expertly matched with the menu’s authentic Gascon fare – the bar remains staunchly faithful in pairing local wines with the cuisine of the same region. Reasonably priced rustic snacks and tapas-sized sharing plates are enjoyed with a leisurely-drunk glass (or bottle) of wine in intimate surrounds. Pig and duck – the mainstays of Gascon cuisine – reign supreme: pâtés, rillettes and ham are heroes here. Heartier options include braised ox cheeks, and the award-winning foie gras burger, and Marmite Royale and soldiers can be tasted here.
The Express Lunch remains great value, as does the Plat Du Jour where the likes of roasted beef onglet with peppercorn sauce are served with a glass of wine for just £8.