Thursday, December 9, 2010
The Gay Hussar's Crispy Roast Duck
I went to a press lunch at The Gay Hussar this week and was relieved to find that it was almost exactly the same as when I last went 10 years or so ago to interview the manager John Wrobel (who I seem to remember was a Pole). It was opened in 1953 by the late Victor Sassi - there's a great account of its colourful history here)
It's one of those restaurants that's more about the ambiance than the food. For years, long before the days of New Labour, it was the haunt of Labour politicians and union bosses although there was a bloke sitting next to me who looked like the kind of MP who would have a duck pond so maybe the Tories frequent it these days. You can see why chaps like it. It's a clubby, congenial sort of place with cosy red walls lined with books and caricatures of its famous patrons.
The highlight of the menu is, as it always was, the roast duck which I suspect, given its extreme crispness, is actually deep-fried. It's served with red cabbage, apple slices and a slightly soupy mixture of potatoes and apple and is absolutely delicious.
The other dishes aren't really in the same league though I have to admit the goulash soup really hit the spot on a freezing cold day. And was surprisingly authentic given that the chef is Portuguese . . .
At £18.50 for two courses the Gay Hussar represents great value for a Siberian winter lunch. Save it for a post-Christmas treat.
* It's now currently owned by The Restaurant Partnership, the same company that owns Elena's L'Etoile