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|Address:||35 Spital Square, London E1 6DY|
|Tel:||020 3641 8322|
|Price: £45.00||Wine: £18.50||Champagne: £53.00|
|Opening Hours:||Mon-Sun 11.30-10.30pm (Sun -9.30pm)|
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First time at Cafe a Vin having previously been to La Chappelle and Bistrot de Luxe and this is very much Galvin for beginners – a perfect introduction.
The room itself is rather less grand than the other restaurants in the group, its more Bistrot de Luxe than La Chappelle or Windows; lots of faded mirrors, dark wood, fans, zinc bar, relatively low ceilings etc. Don't expect table cloths, rather you get brown paper clipped to the tables, but actually this works really well. Having gone early on a very snowy Thursday atmosphere was slightly lacking, not busy, no music and having the table by the entrance to the toilets didn't enhance the experience. Tables are also a bit squeezed in places, though not everywhere, never a favourite of mine as you don't always want to hear your neighbours conversation!
Service was so near to being flawless – let down by the change of waiters mid way through dinner and having to ask for the bill again, something that always bugs me – it's really not that hard to take my money when I want to pay but otherwise a better experience than most places in London, though they do turn you round very quickly; despite the mistake with the bill we were in and out inside an hour and a quarter, so perhaps more somewhere to go when you want to be fed than somewhere to linger for a while.
Value for money is good – £135 for 3 people, 3 courses and wine; no complaints about that and its not like the food isn't very good for that price either, indeed lots of far more costly venues would be well served trying to produce something so enjoyable.
Started with celeriac, chestnut and caramelised apple soup – hot, thick and very tasty although the apple was a slightly odd addition that didn't totally work. Then daube of beef with shallots, potato puree etc – the beef was meltingly soft, almost caramelised, and the combination worked well. Dessert was quince and apple crumble with vanilla ice cream – lovely oaty topping and large chunks of tasty fruit, but not truly exceptional. Portions are decent sizes, though you won't come away feeling overly stuffed.
Its well worth a trip to get top quality food at reasonable prices.