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Galvin La Chapelle

Thursday, 16 September 2010


Another one of our slightly exclusive group of college-mates is leaving the flock. We’re quite an odd bunch, from a slightly odd college; for some reason, the majority of students in said boarding school were from South Et and Far East Asian countries. It was great though as we didn’t feel very homesick and ended up with some great friends. After A levels we went to London and meet up for meals or just to hang out and we would usually have to get a table for 10-12. After 9 years from college though, we usually just meet up in groups of 4-6 as quite a few of us have gone back home.

Anyway so when a friend is leaving and chose Galvin La Chapelle to have dinner, I didn’t make a fuss even though I had a good if not particularly outstanding experience at the Windows* branch before. However, a chat with the manager before dinner revealed that this new branch (opened Nov 09) is to be their new flagship restaurant and he also recommended some of the more popular dishes to try.

Even before eating anything though, we were already feasting our eyes on the restaurant itself, an old chapel which then became a school’s gym before being abandoned and was due to be demolished before being saved and reincarnated into a restaurant.

Galvin La Chapelle, London 02

We were discussing the origins of the restaurant name – the wine buff was certain it was named after the prestigious vineyards (apparently there was a bottle on the winelist with the price in excess of £15,000) while the girls felt it more likely the building itself was an old chapel, especially with the little chapel on the front of the menu.

Galvin La Chapelle, London 01

A choice of white or brown bread was offered but both were cold and slightly miserable.

Lasagne of Dorset crab, velouté of girolle mushrooms”. Hmm I really wanted to love this. From the menu, it sounds fantastic and it looked even better when we laid eyes on it. But despite the delicately built “lasagne” with its silky smooth ultra thin layers of pasta sheets, I just couldn’t really taste the delicate crab meat and my taste buds just kept tasting eggs instead. Also the mushroom velouté was gorgeous but I didn’t think it suited the (supposedly) crab very well.

Galvin La Chapelle, London 05

Ballotine of Landaise foie gras, peaches & Pain d’ épice”. This one was much better although it was a lot more straight forward. The foie gras itself was not bad although it was a rather thin slice and the sweetened peaches was a nice foil to the meaty foie. Sadly I was too engrossed with the foie and peaches than I forgot all about the toasted brioche.

Galvin La Chapelle, London 04

Tagine of Bresse pigeon, aubergine purée & harissa sauce”. I only sampled a bite of my friend’s dish, but the pigeon was tender and moist. It certainly didn’t look like a “normal” tagine though.

Galvin La Chapelle, London 11

Cornish lamb rump, sweetbread, liver & stuffed courgette flower ’Provençale”. Eating this, I was reminded of a similar dish in Ledbury**. Here, the lamb itself was pretty good to eat and the jus below it gave sufficient taste but sadly the liver was far too dry. The stuffed courgette flower was genuinely interesting and the vegetable stuffing inside was actually pretty good to eat too.

Galvin La Chapelle, London 06

Roast breast of corn-fed Goosnargh duck, red cabbage, caramelised apple & blackcurrant jus”. The duck itself was fairly well seasoned with very generous helpings of red cabbage which was slightly sweet then topped with sweeter thinly sliced slightly crunchy apples. Tweaking a common dish by adding the caramelised apple was a bold stroke that worked very well here.

Galvin La Chapelle, London 07

Chilled chocolate fondant, milk ice cream & fresh raspberries”. This felt more like liquid chocolate inside a casing of dark chocolate mousse instead of a normal fondant. Utterly decadent, it needed the milk ice cream to help counter the rather bitter chocolate. The raspberries also helped by providing a little fresh zing to help balance the palate.

Galvin La Chapelle, London 10

Toasted hazelnut parfait, lime confiture”. The French definition of parfait sounds just like ice cream to me and this feels pretty much like a very creamy and smooth ice cream. The hazelnuts provided the necessary textures here while the lime gave a different turn of flavour although I found it too zingy and sour.

Galvin La Chapelle, London 09

Apple tart Tatin, crème fraîche”. Again, I only had a spoonful from my friend’s dish, but it felt like a pretty good example of a classic dessert with caramelised apple and a crisp pastry (to be honest I was distracted by my chocolate fondant).

Galvin La Chapelle, London 08

Altogether with a £40 bottle of Burgundy, the bill came up to just over £60 a head. Service throughout was fairly good and attentive throughout. While the ex-chapel was typically high and lofty, on a warm summer’s evening it was incredibly stuffy inside the restaurant; the open-air kitchen definitely didn’t help either.

Food – 8.0
Service – 6.0
Atmosphere – 6.0
Value – 5.0

Foodwise, the plate presentation and quality of the cooking here (except for the liver) was superb. Barring the crab + mushroom, the other combinations on the plates worked quite well and there was an abundance of flavour about. The portion sizes looked fairly decent but I left feeling I could fit a little bit more into my stomach, perhaps we’re a bit too used to the heavy French sauces which is absent here.

Best bit: the company.
Worst bit: starting to wonder if it’ll be our turn to go home too.

Galvin La Chapelle, London 11

Galvin La Chapelle
35 Spital Square,
E1 6DY
Tel:+44(020) 7299 0400

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