Thursday, 25 February 2010

Galvin at Windows

Went to Galvin at Windows with Robin from Source it, cook it, eat it tonight. The restaurant sits atop the top floor of The Hilton in Mayfair, providing some great views (even through a strong evening downpour). We ate from the à la carte menu: three courses for £33.

Note: I know the pictures have a yellow tint but that's a function of the ambient lighting and my poor photography skills.

First of was an amuse-bouche of a butternut squash mousse topped with a truffle egg and parmesan foam.
Basically it was a savoury trifle. The foam was a great combination of egg and cheese flavours but the mousse was bland and tasted of nothing. Not a great start, but things could only get better.

I'm a sucker for foie gras so it was no surprise that for my starter, I had the mosaic of cornfed chicken, foie gras, Bayonne ham and confit celeriac, toasted pain de campagne. I wasn't entirely sure what form my mosaic was going to take but was not surprised when it turned out to be a terrine.The terrine was as delicious and luxuriant as anything with foie gras usually is. The texture of the celeriac was amazing and added a pleasant celery hint. Unfortunately the taste of the ham was just lost and my toast was slightly burnt!

Robin had the Brandade and tartare of Cornish mackerel, beetroot carpaccio, braised leeks & Moutarde de Meaux.Larousse tells me that a brandade is a purée of salt cod, olive oil and milk. Obviously in this case the salt cod was replaced with mackerel. Neither of us were really sure what to expect other than mackerel and beetroot! But a delicate salad with bold and complimentary flavours was delivered and very much enjoyed.

For main I couldn't resist the braised pork cheeks, pommes purée, honey glazed turnips, cinnamon and clove scented jus as I am a sucker for any "cheap" joint that promotes nose-to-tail eating.

The plate was placed in front of me and my juices started flowing immediately. The waiter then poured the jus on and as he did the heady aroma it hit me and I was nearly foaming at the mouth. The cheeks were so tender they nearly fell apart on my tongue. I'm sure I could have sucked them rather than chewed if it hadn't been for the delightful caramelised crust. This was pork heaven. The potato purée and spinach complemented the pork very well. As for the finer flavours in the dish, the honey glaze of the turnips was non-existant and I couldn't have told you the jus has cinnamon or clove in it. Mind you, neither of those elements affected my enjoyment of the dish.

Robin went for a double dose of fish with the baked fillet of cod, potato crust, buttered cockles and watercress sauce.Naturally, the magnificent portion of cod was cooked to perfection with the skin separated and served as crackling. The watercress sauce was a peppery delight. Overall a great combination of flavours and textures.

To finish, I had the caramel poached baby pear, milk purée and peanut ice cream.This could have been pretty dull but the caramel and peanut garnish brought the whole dish together and raised it above the ordinary. The pears had little resistance to them and the combination with the peanut was fantastic. Another hit.

Robin manned up and had a cheese selection which was very good.

As we finished our wine and waited for the bill we had some delightful coffee chocolates and when the bill arrived, it came with a glass jar of strawberry and lime marshmallows. I think I practically finished off a jar of these soft pillows of sweet loveliness.
The food at Galvin at Windows is excellent modern French cuisine, as you'd expect from an establishment revelling in its new Michelin starred status. However, the service, at times was distinctly lacking. We had waiters leaning over us and the sommelier didn't seem too interested. The setting is spectacular. It's an ideal venue to take a date, especially if you can get a table next to one of the floor to ceiling windows.

After consideration, I was left slightly underwhelmed. I expect a fabulous experience from any restaurant that has a mention in the Michelin Guide and I didn't get it here. Don't get me wrong, I'd thoroughly recommend Galvin for a fine-dining meal, but there was just that je ne sais quoi missing to make the evening truly memorable.
Galvin at Windows on Urbanspoon


  1. Oh cool, shame it wasn't quite as good as you hoped! Does it have a Michelin star?
    What was Robin's general feeling towards it?

  2. Well, it was good. Just didn't blow me away like I expect Michelin starred place to.

    Think Robin enjoyed it. Although I'm not sure fine dining is his "thing"!

  3. I definitely did enjoy it, I'm just too cheap to really get on board with fine dining.

    Seriously, I love it when I'm served something I couldn't do myself, but all to often I find myself a bit disappointed and I hate overpaying for food.

    Galvin was great, but I think I enjoy earthy venues, rather than elaborate and fancy ones. If food is turned into too much of an elitist thing, I think it can be spoilt.

  4. I wrote a little review in the end with some more thoughts - here:


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