Galvin La Chappelle (London, United Kingdom)

I was in London with my family and had the opportunity to visit Galvin La Chappelle, a 1-star restaurant in the city. I chose the place because it had a sizable a la carte menu, in addition to a tasting menu.  Quite the opposite of me, my parents are extraordinarily picky eaters and would not enjoy the tasting menu format.

Overall, the restaurant was very good but a bit rough around the edges, as we say, when it came to service.  Mostly small things bugged me – the servers were a bit too informal in conversation, at times it took a while to get a drink refill, the coffee/digestifs came way too late in the dessert course, and they did not offer to call a taxi for us as we left (we were in a very quiet part of town on a holiday, where taxis were very hard to come by).  There were several other little things that were a bit sub-par when it came to service, but as I enjoy my moment’s too much I try not to take notes of everything.

The interior of the restaurant was gorgeous – an industrial-chic decor, with very high ceilings.  It looks like an old warehouse or even an old church converted into a restaurant.  My only complaint was a lack of music or any sort of ambiance in the background – it was eerily quiet and felt as if the restaurant lacked a certain energy.  Also important, returning to the service issues, they did a poor job of table placement.  On a quiet night with ample tables available, tables of 3 were seated awkwardly at 4-person rectangular tables, when something more circular was available.  That should not have been the case.

My meal was as follows:

Lasagne of dorset crab, beurre nantais & pea shoots

This was a very tasty dish, rich, buttery but not heavy.  It was a bit of an overly aggressive way to start a meal in my opinion, and lacked a bit of “wow” factor – while it was very good, perhaps a kick of spice and/or color could have helped this dish a bit.  Nonetheless, very few complaints from me, it was very, very good.

Roast Yorkshire grouse, celeriac purée & blackberries 

It was my first time eating grouse, and from a purely intellectual interesting perspective, it was fascinating.  For the uninitiated, grouse is a bird, a very gamey one at that.  It has a similar-ish texture to chicken, but much, much more flavor.  The dish tasted as if I had been deep in the woods until all day, and grouse was my catch. A wealth of wonderful, woody flavors, deep, dark meat, and simply fantastic.  The only two changes I would make would be eating it in the cold of winter instead of summer at my hunting lodge, and pairing it with a very bold red wine.

The two desserts I consumed were both very good, but I have little to say – good or bad – about them.

Apple tarte tatin, crème fraîche

Valrhona chocolate ganache, honeycomb & coconut sorbet