67 Venn Street
020 7627 0222
by Rhys Chris Peese
There’s something deeply satisfying about seeing something done perfectly, and Gastro does two things perfectly. The first is scrambled eggs. I don’t much like scrambled eggs, but I was wholly won over by the rich buttery flavour and succulent texture. The second is being French. They couldn’t be much more French if they tried. Indeed, the very lack of effort elevates them to further levels of Gallicism. Boy, are they French. Really, really French.
The nicotine-brown bar is replete with mismatched furniture, battered tin adverts for Ricard and posters detailing the seafood of Brittany. But there’s no smack of ‘theme’ here: the bowls of darkly-roasted coffee confirm that this is the real deal. £4.50 gets you a Gastro Special: thick-cut streaky bacon, a small but delicious Toulouse sausage, undercooked tomato, a heap of rather bland mushrooms, and those flawless eggs.
After that, the pain au chocolat was a disappointment: not terrible, but hardly memorable. Having not breakfasted at Gastro in about ten years, the one thing I remembered, and was looking forward to most, was the chocolat chaud bol. Alas, another disappointment; chocolat froid bol. Froid et mélangé insuffisamment. Bof!
Entertainment at the big communal table was provided by the witless, strident public school banter of the students we shared it with. At one point they even compared provision for History of Art courses at Edinburgh, Bristol, York and Durham. But that’s the price you pay for eating in Clapham.
Service is friendly, if insouciant. You expect every request to be met with a ‘peut-être’ rather than a ‘oui’, and indeed the bread we were offered to accompany our breakfasts never appeared: not so much pain-perdu as pain-oublié. Have I mentioned that they really are very, very French?