In the heady days of late May, before Brexit and when all was well in London, Galvin La Chapelle in Liverpool Street was more than 90% full on a Wednesday evening. This is no mean feat, but especially so given the dramatic, voluminous dining room – a former church that gives the restaurant its name.
Financial types were clinking flutes and glasses, the sound reverberating with chatter and laughter up to the extraordinary high wooden-beamed ceiling and over a dramatic glass mezzanine.
The eponymous Galvin is actually brothers, Chris and Jeff, the first to both earn a Michelin star. They have restaurants including Galvin at Hop and Galvin at Windows and have run kitchens at legendary venues including The Wolseley, L’Escargot and Marco Pierre White’s The Oak Room.
Their dinner menu makes me think of Rowley Leigh, formerly at The Continental, with his seamless mash-up of French and British produce and dishes. Tonight most of the staff seem French, while the corner table afforded the perfect view of a gently buzzing room.
Lasagne of Dorset crab, shellfish bisque and sea herbs (£16.50) was a lesson in restraint, allowing the innate sweetness of the crustacean to play like old friends with the almost translucently thin discs of pasta. The sea herbs were just the right reminder of produce from terra firma.
Assiette of Herdwick Lamb (£32.50) – from Cumbria in the far north west of England – came perfectly pink with roast Italian aubergine under a miso glaze. A little sidebar of what I think was Pommes Dauphinois was knockout, while I’d drink that jus by the glass.
To wrap, a light cheesecake of Gariguette strawberries (9.50), black pepper meringue and strawberry sorbet. Black pepper and strawberries is no longer a revolutionary combo, but it seems to accentuate the fruit even more effectively when dusted atop the sweet snap of meringue.
The à la carte is not cheap, but nor should it be. This is seriously-acccomplished one Michelin star cooking with service so slick that it reminds how sadly shoddy it can be back in Hong Kong.