Restaurateur and chef Alexis Gauthier – who has led kitchens at two Michelin-starred restaurants – has announced plans to open two new vegan eateries in London. Located in one space but split into two concepts, the plant-based eateries will be housed in Soho’s BFI Stephen Street building.
It is understood that a bakery, dubbed 123V, will be at the front of the large space. Here, customers will be able to buy traditional patisserie delicacies, all with a plant-based twist. A café will also offer patrons the chance to sit-in and enjoy a casual meal.
To the rear of the split space will be Studio Gauthier. A riff on the fine dining style that Gauthier is known for, it will be a less formal version of the chef’s flagship London eatery, Gauthier Soho. The homage comes 13 years after the latter first opened (it was awarded a Michelin star less than a year later).
Speaking about the upcoming restaurant launches, Gauthier said: “We know there is a growing market for high-quality, delicious gastronomy and patisserie which is animal-free.”
Vegan food at 123V and Gauthier Studio
123V is an offshoot of an existing restaurant at the Fenwick department store on Bond Street, also in London. It is seemingly being marketed to those looking for tasty but casual food.
The menu will include a selection of focaccia and sourdough sandwiches, vegan sushi, eggplant toasts, and chickpea fries. Take-away will be offered for those grabbing a meal on the go, and a bottomless salad station will be available at lunchtime.
Conversely, Studio Gauthier will be similar in concept to Gauthier Soho, with a focus on French fine dining. To maintain consistency between the two, Soho’s head chef Alexia Dellaca Minot is moving to lead the new kitchen.
Menu items include wild garlic and rocket focaccia with Aïgo Boulido (a kind of garlic soup), as well as black truffle and rice flour berlingots. Spring asparagus with miso hollandaise and a barbecued loin of kohlrabi are also anticipated.
The menu appears just as upmarket as that of Gauthier Soho. However, the setting will offer a more casual introduction to the brand.
“Gauthier is a restaurant for special occasions. We work very hard to make sure the atmosphere and service is perfect,” Gauthier himself explained. “The location at Stephen Street is perfect to give people a chance to experience the special food we are doing, but in a fun, unbuttoned, more laid-back setting.
“Where Gauthier is for your anniversary, Studio Gauthier is for your fun night out with friends.”
How a Michelin-starred restaurant turned vegan
Chef Gauthier became vegan in 2016 following repeated protests against foie gras outside of the Gauthier Soho restaurant, formerly a major supporter of the animal product.
He then proceeded to remove animal products from all of his menus. His first major business change came in 2018 when Gauthier Soho shifted to a 75 percent plant- based offering. By 2021, the entire menu was vegan (the restaurant celebrated the two-year anniversary of its completely plant-based menu just last week).
The move, however, attracted some criticism from previous patrons. “When we changed Gauthier to 100 percent plant-based, I must admit, I worried. We were a classical French restaurant and we lost a lot of customers,” the chef said in a statement. “But two years on I am happy to say we have now gained far more.”
Vegan celebrities Billie Eilish and Benedict Cumberbatch have both visited the animal-free spot, the Evening Standard reports, as well as vegetarian musician Sir Paul McCartney.
Studio Gauthier and 123V Bakery are expected to open in June. They will be located within the BFI building on 21 Stephen Street in London, W1T 1LN.