I’ve made no secret of the fact I’m a huge fan of the Galvin brothers, the French chefs who hail from my home town of Essex and I’ve been fortunate enough to have visited both Galvin Green Man and Galvin at Windows in recent months.
My most recent Galvin dining experience was courtesy of Galvin La Chapelle, offering gourmet French cooking in a grade II listed former Victorian chapel, right in the heart of central London. The restaurant received it’s Michelin star back in 2011 and has held hold if it ever since.
The restaurant looks very unassuming from the outside, so much so that we almost walked past it, but that all changes as soon as you step through the doors. The building underwent a huge renovation before the restaurant opened in 2009, however most of the original wooden ceiling beams and granite pillars remain. Add to that plush leather seating, spaciously arranged tables and an abundance of natural light that cascades through the lofty windows, you have yourself the perfect setting.
The staff at Galvin La Chapelle, expertly overseen by General Manager Tony Havin, were professional, friendly and happy to engage in conversation. Our waiter, Stephano, was efficient without being overbearing and stuffy like other Michelin star establishments I’ve been to.
We both opted for ‘Lasagne of Dorset crab, beurre nantais and pea shoots’ for starters. Beautiful, almost translucently thin discs of pasta, with a delicious and airy crab mousse filling, this melted in your mouth. The beurre nantais was nice and buttery and had a good depth of flavour. The dish was rich, decadent and surprisingly light, and the perfect way to kick off our meal.
For mains I opted for the ‘Tagine of Bresse pigeon, couscous, confit lemon and Harissa sauce’. Presented within a clay tagine pot, this was a modern take on a Moroccan custom. The pigeon breast was cooked perfectly, served on top of fluffy couscous and soft-boiled quail’s egg. The dish came complete with a pastilla of melt-in-the-mouth leg meat, figs and dates and gave the dish a delightful sweet kick.
The meat eater in Adam couldn’t resist the ‘Roast chateaubriand of Cumbrian beef, truffle pomme mousseline, bone marrow and artichokes’. The meat was flavoursome, juicy, and tender and was served with a delicious sauce reduction.
To finish I had ‘Apple tarte tatin with creme fraiche’. With it’s crisp puff pastry and delicious sticky apples, the only thing missing for me was the sweetness. I can’t help but think this dish may have been better served with ice-cream.
Adam had the ‘Banoffee cheesecake with Manjari chocolate ice cream’. The cheesecake itself was purely banana flavoured, with the toffee element coming in the form of caramelised banana pieces on the side. Whilst it did slightly lack in the toffee department the chocolate ice cream definitely made up for that and will impress even the most die-hard chocolate lovers.
Galvin La Chapelle proves that fine-dining can be accessible and is an enchanting restaurant in every respect, and one that certainly didn’t disappoint.