10 years on and still putting the fine into fine dining. In 2009 esteemed restaurateurs, the Galvin brothers took over a derelict school for girls in the City, a stones-throw from Liverpool Street station, well ahead of the East London trend, which they turned into one of London’s finest French restaurants – Galvin La Chapelle. It marked a third restaurant for the brothers, having garnered acclaim with both ‘Galvin at Windows’ on Park Lane, and the (much missed) ‘Bistrot de Luxe’ on Baker Street.
Chris and Jeff Galvin are the only British brothers in the same kitchen who each have a Michelin star, and are still working together every day. This ethos really comes out in the food they lovingly craft.
The magic of La Chapelle begins when you enter the restaurant through a huge stone arch. I was lucky enough to visit during the week of the Chelsea Flower Show and the arch was dripping with wisteria and summertime blooms. An ice-cold glass of the Galvin brothers own Champagne and a bowl of ripe green Nocellara del Belice olives sealed the deal on a very warm welcome.
The ornate surroundings with cathedral-esque windows, historic wooden vaulted ceiling and art deco atmosphere is delightful. Although recently having been awarded a coveted Michelin star for an astonishing ninth consecutive year, there is refreshingly a choice of an a la carte menu or a prix fixe where you can have three courses and a carafe of wine for just £47 per person.
I started with their famous lasagne of Dorset crab. A smooth crab mousse sandwiched between two of the most delicate yet al dente pasta sheets I have ever tried; finished with a beurre nantais it was both brilliantly tangy and creamy.
My husband (being a drinks writer and having spent excessive time in the Gascony area) is a bit of a foie gras fanatic. Here seared foie gras was expertly paired with roasted pineapple, medjool dates and a pistachio caramel which was an absolute revelation. The exotic sweetness of these flavours made the tender foie gras sing. Both starters were enjoyed with the house Champagne which, because of its 60% Pinot Meunier make up, added biscuit notes to the palate and brought the flavours together.
Our taste buds still tingling, we moved onto main course. I took a leaf out of my husband’s book and enjoyed the breast of Goosnargh duck, glazed leg and red cabbage purée. The duck fat rösti and the unctuous jus set the stage for perfectly cooked and tender meat. A glass of the Fattoria San Lorenzo ‘Artù’ Rosso, with hints of leather, smoke and dried raisins elevated the completely melt-in-the-mouth dish.
My husband enjoyed the Ricotta Gnocchi, with diamonds of white asparagus, crispy Jersey royal potatoes all served on a delicate pool of lovage sauce and topped with shaved asparagus. Perfectly paired with a glass of Tenuta Delle Terre Nere Etna Rosso 2016. This elegantly slender, sunbathed Sicilian red was the ideal partner in crime for the fluffy summer inspired Gnocchi dish.
As we were feeling progressively French we first moved to their vast and impressive selection of farmhouse cheeses (the star for us was the 36-month aged comté) before finishing with a helping of their apple tarte Tatin and Normandy crème fraiche. All-in-all a very refined way to spend a warm Summer lunchtime.
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By Victoria Grier