Wesfield London Shopping Centre
London W12 7GE
Food type: French
Food rating: 1/10
Nearest tube: Shepherd’s Bush
Website: Croque Gascon
Jingle Bells! Jingle Bells! Jingle Bells Rock! It’s December, it’s that time of the year and it’s nearly Christmas. This only means it is time to go shopping and pick up some presents and where else but the newly opened Westfield Shopping Centre would fulfil all our shopping needs. The largest shopping centre in the city also houses more than 40 dining outlets. Of course, the one I was hellbent on trying was Croque Gascon, opened by Pascal Aussignac and Vincent Labeyrie who also own the 1 Michelin starred Club Gascon.
Croque Gascon is located in the Balcony dining area of Westfield – the ‘foodhall’ area of this shopping centre. The outlet features a 40 sq m open plan kitchen where you can see your meals being prepared. It is hard to meet their outlet despite the dining hall being packed during lunch service – it has an unmistakably French air about it with legs of Bayonne ham, cannelles and some other sample dishes proudly on display.
The menu is short and contains dishes inspired from South France. Most items cost between £4-£8 with a singular item (Duck Burger with Foie Gras) surpassing the £10 mark. While this is a fast food outlet, you can certainly eat well, and eat healthily without clogging up your arteries. Healthier options include Seared Salmon, Lentils & Citrus and a Vegetable Carpaccio. The emphasis on tasty food and health is emphasized by the company line – ‘French Fast GOOD’. There is a short wine list mainly from the South West of France with glasses priced between £4-6.
We tried their famous Duck Burger made with duck mince sitting on top of a bed of shredded lettuce and sweet chilli and tomato sauce. Some raw onions and a small pickled chilli finished off the garnishes for the burger. The bun was crusty and benefitted from the addition of some Gruyere cheese which gave it a different dimension, although it is worth mentioning that it was rather chewy. Nevertheless this was a step above your regular fast food burgers. (2/10)
I also tried their signature version which is exactly the same but with the addition of a slab of foie gras. Surprisingly, the liver was quite well cooked with good amounts of seasoning. Eating the signature burger proved difficult from a mechanical standpoint. (Rearrange the following words: big mouth not enough)
Do note that burgers do not come with fries so we shared a portion of fries between us. While advertised as french fries, these weren’t the measly shoe-string fries you get at Golden Arches but instead nice thick cut potatoes. The fries were cooked in duck fat. These were well seasoned and had good flavour but soggy. Repeat after me: ‘Fries MUST be Crisp’ (1/10)
Their cassoulade was very poor. The bean stew was underseasoned and had the omnipresent flavour of garlic. Now admittedly, I probably have a better appreciation of vast amounts of garlic in my food compared to the average Englishman, but this was just going overboard. You know you have too much garlic when the duck and pork taste of nothing but garlic. The duck confit and pork belly in the stew were dried out – quite a difficult feat to achieve especially with pork belly as it contains so much fat. (0/10)
We finished with Chi-chi – their take on churros (spanish doughnut). Here they are dipped in sugar (instead of chocolate). These were pleasant, with good flavour and texture, although a touch greasy. (2/10)
Prices are surprisingly fair for the level of cooking on display which is definitely better than your average high-street fast food outlet. You can certainly do worse than dining at Croque Gascon while shopping at Westfield.