Wednesday, 3 February 2010
The fact that you can see Selfridges from the 28th floor of The Hilton Hotel is not the best thing about dining at Galvin at Windows, but it definitely caught my attention. As our champagne flowed and we gazed doe eyed over the spectacular view of London from our window-side seat, the stage was already set for an enjoyable afternoon of backpatting over finding ourselves in such a fine situation.
It wasn't just the apparently immediate effect that a bubbling glass of champers has on me, nor the fact that London was laid out before us like a giant wrap around Google satellite map. You see, the view only improves once the food arrives. I love the work of Chris and Jeff Galvin at Galvin Bistrot De Luxe (earlier review here) and Galvin La Chapelle wasn't too bad either (reviewed here). But Galvin at Windows had long been on my hit list. So when it won its first (and widely anticipated) Michelin Star last month, I decided the time was ripe - particularly while the Great Galvin Giveaway 2010* is up and running. A 3 course lunch and glass of Pommery Brut Royal for £25? Just try and stop me.
Chris Galvin is the Chef Patron, to Head Chef Andre Garrett. As it turned out, the quality of their modern, French haute cuisine certainly matched the thrillling panoramic views.
I started with a light and airy chestnut veloute with celeriac and cardamom, sided with a mushroom brioche. While lovely and delicate, it didn't bowl me over. The celeriac pieces probably saved this dish as the flavour of the broth was too subtle on its own. The Peanut Gallery's tortellini of pumpkin, chestnut and aged parmesan came with a pointless foam and a skidmark on the side, but redeemed itself with fresh flavours and a lovely combination of textures. The pumpkin was (unexpectedly) finely chopped, rather than pureed.
However, the real tantalisers came at the second and third courses. My roasted John Dory, crab and spring onion pomme ecrasee (fork mashed potatoes with green olive oil), brown shrimps and chive beurre blanc (rich, white buttery sauce) was gorgeous - plump, fleshy and flavoursome. I rarely order the fish dish when there's a meat option, but the light and tasty balance of flavours here was superb. And I am always wooed by a good bit of mash.
"Pot au feu" of corn fed chicken was sensational. Fresh, colourful vegetables accompanied the chicken, all of which was set off beautifully with a clear stock, enriched with truffles, which was poured over the lot at our table.
Although we tried to order different dishes to maximise our sampling of the menu, we had both already seen the marscapone cheesecake with blood orange jelly do the rounds of the room. We stared each other down, squinty eyed, jaws set - but in the end, neither would back down. We both went for it. Gorgeous looking, the taste was simply perfection. Light but luscious, it would have been the perfect ending to the meal.
But there was more. No, not a set of steak knives. Included in what was by now enthusiastically acknowledged as a fabulous value £25 meal, came our coffees with petit fours (is anyone else always tempted to check if the brown bedding might, just one glorious time, be chocolate chips?) and, with the bill, a jar of delicious lime and strawberry marshmallows. View of Selfridges, free bubbly, and now this - how is a girl to contain herself?
Despite the 3 courses and extras, we left feeling not overly full - a tribute not only to our ever expanding stomachs, but also to the lightness of the food and well judged portion sizes. There would still be room for dinner [cue sigh of relief]. Service here has a reputation for being overly fussy at times, and while it's clearly attentive, I didn't feel my every mouthful and flip of the napkin was under surveillance - service was friendly, unstuffy and helpful.
As always, you will spend more than £25 per head once you factor in wines, but each one we selected was lovely and we considered this a great value meal all round.
Galvin at Windows is a perfect place to bring London visitors to ogle the views and experience some really top notch, exciting food. Right before hitting Selfridges.
* Great Galvin Giveaway 2010 - We tried the £25 lunch option which I thoroughly recommend to make the most of the views in daylight hours. The GGG dinner option is £50. Both deals end on 28th February 2010, and can be booked directly on Galvin's website. Other more indulgent packages are also available.
Galvin at Windows, The London Hilton, 28th floor, 22 Park Lane, Mayfair, London