Monday, 19 October 2009

Galvin Bistrot De Luxe, London

Apparently, French women don't get fat. According to Mireille Guiliano, by sticking to time tested principles of French gastronomy, French women can indulge in bread, wine, cheese and frequent 3 course meals without fear of gradually expanding through the seams of their French pantalon. Food must be savoured, not rushed. Eating is all about joyful pleasure. At this point of the theory, the Greedy Diva is high-fiving Mireille all the way to the patisserie.

Similarly, the French Paradox is the observation that the French population suffers lower rates of coronary heart disease despite thriving on a diet lavish in saturated fats. Many attribute this phenomenom to the health benefits of plentiful red wine consumption. Fabulous - where do I sign? Eating high quality food is also a likely key. My thoughts exactly. Other probable contributing factors are the low incidence of snacking in between meals and smaller portion sizes. Hmm.....

This is where the Greedy Diva's subscription to living the French principles of eating comes to a screeching halt. Because the better something tastes, the more one must eat of it, non?

Fortunately, the Galvin brothers seem to concur. The portion sizes at Galvin Bistrot De Luxe, their fabulous French bistrot in the nether regions of Baker Street, are ample and hearty, while maintaining the high quality and classic style for which the chefs are reputed.

The Peanut Gallery and I opted for the lunch menu prix fixe: 3 courses for £15.50 (also available for dinner at £17.50). This would have to be one of the best value lunches in town, particularly when compared to the cost of a Eurostar ticket - sip your red wine, soak up the buzz, and one is instantly transported to Paris...voila!

We commenced proceedings with the chicken and root vegetable terrine. Colourful, if slightly Picassoesque, this was a delectable and satisfying starter. The Autumnal vegetables (mainly carrots and greens) blended beautifully with the luscious, rich chicken. The serving size was also generous, and certainly took more than the edge off the next course.

The Peanut Gallery wisely chose the short rib of beef for his main, accompanied by pumpkin puree, baby onions, carrots, greens and a rich sauce (pictured top). This would normally be the dish for me, but to broaden our explorations of the menu, I opted for the salmon and haddock fish cake with poached egg and herbs.

Fish cakes are not something I normally choose, but this was probably as good as a fish cake can get and the poached egg on top was a lovely touch. However, drenched in a bechamel type sauce, it was not only enormous but insanely rich. In the spirit of principled French eating (and a rare show of meal defeat), the Greedy Diva had to abandon a portion on the plate.

But then her lack of French blood inevitably revealed itself. The Peanut Gallery had also declared himself defeated by the beef. This was surely a crime for a dish so completely and utterly delicious. So tender, rich and lush. The Greedy Diva treated herself to a morsel. Then another. Until, mid sentence, The Peanut Gallery looked down at his plate and gasped in horreur. Somehow, in a matter of seconds, The Greedy Diva had managed to scrape the (once) well covered bone clean and was now licking her lips bashfully. It was then that I knew I would never master the effortlessly elegant ways of a French woman.

Finally, after some breathing space, the potted cheesecake arrived. The caramelised fig topping was too strongly spiced, but the cheesecake and biscuit base were divine. We also noted some robust blackberry souffles flaunting around the room, which would definitely warrant a repeat visit.

Galvin Bistrot De Luxe won London's Best French Restaurant of the Year Award in 2008 and it's easy to see why. It would have to be one of my new favourite lunch spots, and the reasonable prices are a bonus. If you were settling in for the evening, the extensive wine list has a great selection to keep you entertained.

While slightly stiff and formal looking on first glance, with its wood panelling, white linen and well-to-do older crowd, Galvin Bistrot has a charming and chattering buzz. It's easy to imagine you have just stepped out of your chic Parisian apartment to grab a meal and a glass of wine before taking a tiptoe through the Tuileries. What more could you want?

Galvin Bistrot De Luxe, 66 Baker Street, London, W1U 7DJ 

Galvin Bistrot de Luxe on Urbanspoon


  1. I am now craving the Galvin. And I can't believe that I have worked next door to it for 4.5 years and have never eaten there. Tragic.

  2. Shocking! Particularly given you are such an intrepid food explorer (I checked out your blog). Get thee to Galvins!


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