My meal at Galvin a couple of weeks ago was a birthday celebration with an old friend who, until a cold and rainy evening early last year, I hadn’t seen for well over 10 years. We re-connected online and I am one of the only people I know who can say that facebook has brought something meaningful into my actual, real, offline life.
I remember the nervous feeling as I approached that first meeting with my friend after so many years, battling against sheet rain, hoping it was worth it, crossing my fingers we wouldn’t have grown apart in incompatible directions. As you can probably guess, I had nothing to worry about and that freezing wintry night catching up on 15 years of life events over burgers and cocktails seems a world away now from the glorious balmy evening at Galvin. We gazed out over London, champers in hands, and toasted our birthdays (on the same day), some big changes (both of us, work related) and the joy of a rekindled friendship.
Galvin is on the 28th floor of the Park Lane Hilton and I’ll admit I felt a tad nervous – not because of the height (although it does make me wobbly) but because of the blazing sun – the place is all windows for chrissakes. I’ve been to Galvin before however and so knew that I would again enjoy their highly entertaining management of the blinds, which go up and down more often than the lift to the restaurant. I swear they must employ someone full time to operate the controls – or perhaps they’ve got some poor sod on work experience doing it.
The view is truly stunning, which is always a worry with a restaurant as they may rely on it to pull in the customers rather then focusing on the food. Fortunately for Galvin, this isn’t the case. Both feeling a bit skint, we decided to go for the ‘La Carte’ dinner menu (£33 for three courses), which Galvin have introduced on the back of the success of their ‘credit crunch lunch’ offer.
I started with a very pretty and summery plate of smoked salmon with Cornish crab and avocado puree. The salmon was silky and excellently smoked, the amount of crab just on the right side of the line between subtle and and lost and the avocado puree super smooth and creamy. A touch of pickled ginger at first caught me off guard but was nonetheless a welcome surprise due to my serious pickle addiction.
My friend ordered the asparagus with poached quails egg and grapefuit hollandaise and I’m going to assume this was good as I can’t remember anything she said about it. In fact, things started to get a little hazy from here on in, perhaps due to the pre-dinner cider (we both hail from the shire) followed by bubbly and then some excellently matched glasses of wine. I do remember being impressed by the friendly sommelier but I’m afraid the names of his choices escape me now (I know, I know but I have a full on wine post coming soon so forgive me).
I continued on a fish theme with sea trout and wild asparagus, which I’ve not tried before. I found the flavour stronger than the regular green variety and ever so slightly bitter. The fish was perfectly cooked with faintly translucent, meaty flakes and a good crispy skin. My mate ordered the beef with yet more asparagus so between us I think we gave the 2009 asparagus season a damn good send off.
For dessert we ordered the apple tart tatin for two, which arrived in the pan, was cut in half at the table and served with caramel sauce and Calvados crème fraîche, which I immediately plonked on top of the hot tatin for oozy, melty hot ‘n cold goodness. I noted dessert envy glances from a neighbouring table. It was truly one of the dreamiest tatins I’ve ever tasted and I’m still annoyed that it managed to defeat me, which is really saying something because I’m pretty greedy.
For £33 I think the ‘La Carte’ menu at Galvin is great value. The food was delicious, well presented without being fussy and importantly, not stingy on the portions, which can be a danger with a fixed price menu offer. If I have to find something to complain about it would be the fact that the service can be a little bit too attentive at times but mostly, we were too busy chatting for this to be a problem.
There was no hint of embarrassment from my long lost friend as I snapped these photos by the way – during only our second meal together at Wahaca, I broke out the camera and was delighted to find her not the least bit self-conscious or concerned that I might have lost my mind. I knew at that moment we would be friends for years to come.
Galvin at Windows
22 Park Lane
0207 208 4021