Growing up, brunch was a meal eaten after breakfast, but before lunch. Since then it’s lost the logic if its inception. Today, brunch generally equates to an over-indexing of eggs or alcohol.
My little sister lives in Dubai where brunch entails overpaid middle managers in ill-fitting beige chinos, escaping their gated compounds for an afternoon of chugging Veuve, necking overcooked lobster and vomiting into the chocolate fountain.
She recently explained her latest Dubai revelation, the ‘evening brunch’. With my face in palms and the utterance of “window licker” and “that’s called dinner”, we quickly moved onto safer conversational ground; the horrific cost of imported Waitrose produce.
I mention this as my first meal of the New Year (providing you discount a 3am double cheeseburger) was a brunch. A brunch at lunchtime. A brunch consisting of roast beef and a Yorkshire pudding.
Regardless of the mealtime nomenclature, Gough’s on Gough is a class act. In stark contrast to my Christmas meal at French Window, the experience was utterly charming. To a fault, every member of staff fizzed with charm, the décor was eccentrically charming and the food dazzled with understated charm.
With it being New Year’s Day, there was no à la carte option. However, the simple set menu provided enough variety to quell the feeling that we were missing out. The four courses consisted of fresh seafood, a trio of small plates, a main (for which we both opted for roast beef) and a dessert (ice cream for Mr. A, chocolate mousse for Mrs. A).
The first course of oyster, clams and prawn was as it should be; delightfully clean, cold and succulent. As I tipped the oyster down the hatch, I tried not to think about the challenge of acquiring fresh seafood on New Year’s Day, but instead on how the lingering taste of tequila and Maccy D’s was no more.
Then the starters arrived. The first, a dish of beef shin – presumably left over from last night’s more extravagant celebrations – was paired with mash potato of equal parts butter and vegetable.
For the second, a fashionably slow cooked egg sat atop, fruity, nutty mushrooms and salty beef pastrami.
The third, a slight, delectable slither of cured Atlantic Char (I’ll save you the Googling; it’s a freshwater white fish from Northern Europe) and lightly pickled vegetables was just about flawless.
It’s was reassuring that the food wasn’t resting on the laurels of the décor. A sufficient number of critics have fawned over Timothy Oulton’s stunning interior – which lies somewhere between Luhrmann’s Gatsby and Salford Boys Club. Instead of fighting for attention, the whimsy of the surrounding literally and figuratively frames the serious, but playfulness of the dishes.
There’s not too much to say about the main. The Yorkshire was bulbous, the beef was juicy and the veg rapt with the artery-clogging miracle of goose fat. Like the dessert, it didn’t last very long at all.
Gough’s has none of the disingenuous Star-chasing flannelling of French Window. But with food, service and ambience this good, accolades will inevitably follow. But really who cares, whether it’s causing or quelling the hangover, I expect to be indulging at Gough’s a great deal in 2018.
How much? $1,300 for two
Where? Gough Street… obviously
Who goes? Chic gastronomes