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It doesn’t matter which side of the fence you sit on when it comes to the validity of the awards, if you get the opportunity to visit a Michelin starred restaurant, you get that little frizz of excitement. So when I booked a table at Galvin La Chapelle for lunch, I was rather enthusiastic to say the least.
The restaurant is at the edge of the achingly-cool Spitalfields market and situated in an old Chapel which gives this – the third restaurant opened by the Brothers Galvin – a soaring roof and touches of sheer elegance. On arrival (having gotten a little lost as they also have a Brassiere attached), I was greeted warmly and then escorted to my table by the delightful servicing staff – really friendly but professional...
I admit it, I do occasionally judge a book by its cover! Yes, I tend to assume that Hugo Carbine-Smyth probably went to a nice university – may live South of the River – could even go home to his parents in their country pile. Therefore, when I was invited to a blogger event at Bumpkin
in Chelsea – I wondered if I was wandering into a twee overprice haven for the terminally privileged. However, I can say not only was I pleasantly surprised but pretty blown away with not only the food but also the staff (how lovely is Katia? – hope I spelt that right)
I arrived having trotted quickly through Chelsea (only getting marginally lost, due to my sense of direction which resembles a slightly dyslexic lemming) and found a restaurant which I can only describe as designed by Alice in Wonderland. Grass inside, an adorable Gnome on the table and little glasses of Pimms which did everything but come with a dormouse and a label that said drink me. With my events hat on, I could definitely see an afternoon tea for a select group of ladies with a few glasses of bubbles. Maybe a haven from the football?...
...it was 9-ish before we realised we were hungry and then faced the dilemma of finding a restaurant in Islington on a Saturday night (when Arsenal had won) – the prospects did not look good. But we made it to Gem (264-265 Upper St, London N1 2UQ) just as a large party left so we were ready to rock and roll (or rather eat the tasty Turkish Kurdish food).
The décor is modern eclectic (not sure how else to describe it) and while the tables are relatively close together, it give the feel of everyone enjoying themselves rather than being too crowded. Although, if it is a warm day then you may wish to ask for a table away from the front of the restaurant where the bread is baked.
One of the features of Arbutus is that you can order NICE wine by the carafe so we carefully considered the menu as we sipped a crispy New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc to start.
The menu is small and perfectly formed with enough variety to cater to a coeliac and a vegetarian. I chose Squid and mackerel ‘burger’ with Cornish razor clams. As a South African, I am picky about seafood but I didn't have anything to complain about when this delicious work of art arrived - well cooked, perfectly seasoned with a hint of the sea...