Feeling fancy – Galvin at Windows (1 Michelin *)
Holiday days are precious things, so when I use them I tend to jump on a flight to… well, anywhere, really! But when my two best friends from Switzerland came to visit, every minute counted, so I took the day off. What a day in London – we ate amazing food, saw a beautiful exhibition, and bagged last-minute front row seats in the West End!
The highlight was definitely our Michelin-starred lunch, with a view over Hyde Park and service that made us feel like princesses. Galvin at Windows is on the 28th floor of the Hilton on Park Lane – a building I never thought I would enter, yet here I was, at a table at the window, with a gorgeously fresh strawberry bellini in my hand. The room was beautifully decorated, and the excellent interior architecture dampened the sound, so we heard but a hum from the other tables.
I’ve heard about Galvin at Windows before, but I always dismissed it, ‘knowing’ I couldn’t afford it. But then one of my good friends told me about their sneaky lunch deal, priced at £30 for three courses and a Bellini. It seemed too good to be true, and after having eaten it, I can confirm it’s an absolute steal (especially considering the same thing at dinner costs £75…)!
First up: Casterbridge steak tartare, pickled vegetables & grain mustard mayonnaise.
I LOVE steak tartare. I was quite freaked out by it the first time I had it in a pub in Cologne (‘Raw meat? Raw egg? And it’s not dangerous?!’), but I immediately loved the flavours. This one was stunning, with chopped onion and gherkin already in the meat, adding flavour without being too overpowering, and the thinnest crispy slice of bread I’ve ever seen, perfectly salted. The mustard mayonnaise was a delicate balance of sharp and sweet, and the radish pieces were perched on top of egg yolks, which were so creamy we nearly mistook them for butter!
One of my friends chose the cannelloni of Cornish gurnard, brown crab and cucumber emulsion, a delicate fishy dish with sauce that she nearly licked off the plate…
For the main, we all chose the same: the poussin with pear compote, pearl barley, roasted cabbage, and red wine jus. Oh, how I love jus… The only thing in this dish I wasn’t sure about was the chicken liver, but other than that, it was perfect. The pear wasn’t too sweet, the poussin skin was crispy, with superbly tender flesh underneath, and the cabbage was roasted so well that despite not liking cabbage, I gobbled it all down and mopped up the jus with gusto.
And then, the time had finally come. We had been waiting for this moment, and it definitely didn’t disappoint.
Warm chocolate fondant, praline, yoghurt & dill sorbet.
The chocolate fondant was to die for, and I almost wished I hadn’t finished my main course, so I could do it more justice. The texture of the hazelnut praline was slightly unusual, and I wasn’t quite convinced by it. But the yoghurt and dill sorbet was just the right kind of unusual, and when combined with the slight chocolate crumble it rested upon, it blew my mind.
And as we sat vegetating, dreading ever getting up and walking anywhere, we received this…
After three such filling courses, the dark chocolate praline was definitely too rich for me, but the passionfruit-filled one was not, and I leaned back in my chair with a contented smile. “Why don’t I eat like this every day?” I thought.
After our meal, we retired to the bar for tea, coffee, more chocolates, and these gourmet marshmallows. We got a different view of London, spotting the skyscrapers this time (from our table, we had a gorgeous vista of Hyde Park).
Galvin at Windows was one of the finest dining experiences I’ve ever had, and the price tag was incredibly reasonable. They catch you with the extras though – we were offered olives with our bread, only to find £6 on the bill at the end, and our teas were a moderate £5 each for a Twinings tea bag… I for one found this a bit cheeky. Having said that, the service was absolutely top class, and the food excellent, and so in the grand scheme of things, an extra £7 each was not something we were unhappy to pay.
I would love to come back here when the menu changes so I can try more of their incredible dishes. Definitely pay this restaurant a visit – you will feel like kings and queens!