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|Address:||St Botolphs Hall, 35 Spital Square, London E1 6DY|
|Tel:||020 3641 8317|
|Price: £63.00||Wine: £19.00||Champagne: £53.00|
|Opening Hours:||Mon-Sun 12N-2.30 (Fri -3pm) 6-10.30pm (Sun -9.30pm)|
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A friend- undeniably a gourmet and, it's fair to say, a gourmand- and I had lunch here last week. Having eaten at the Bistrot and at Windows, expectations were high, although tempered by a somewhat qualified review from another friend. I am pleased to say that we were not disappointed.
As its name indicates, Galvin La Chapelle is in a former chapel. One might think that this could mean a cold, echoing chamber missing only chanting monks. Not a bit of it- the restaurant is open, light and attractive, with a smaller mezzanine section that must have even better views of the space.
There was an impressively friendly welcome to the restaurant and the service started out as attentive without being overly obtrusive. Happily, it continued this way- perhaps the only quibble was that having our wine in closer reach would have been useful, but given the length of the meal (a leisurely two and a half hours), it was to the team's credit that we were not mercilessly topped up all the time.
The presentation of the food is something that restaurants sometimes view as a secondary matter. Not G la C- every course looked good on the plate and it felt almost wrong to dig in. Fear not, though, as we didn't hesitate for long and were rewarded for our alacrity.
The lasagne of Dorset crab lived up to the hype, with the mushroom veloute being smooth but not salty and providing a contrast in texture, as much as flavour, to the crab. In terms of presentation, though, even the lasagne was in second place to the pressed leeks and langoustines that my friend had. A cliche it may be to say that the food looked like “jewels on the plate”, but it was one that suited in this case. I was reliably informed that it tasted just as good, although I did not, alas, have the opportunity to verify this.
We both had veal as the main course, so there was no feel of the grass being greener. Again, this was excellent, with exceptionally smooth pommes mousseline to accompany it. The choice had not been an easy one- the menu, although not particularly long, is very strong- but it was a happy one.
When it came to pudding, the choice was somewhat easier- the array of cheeses had been impossible to miss. The only drawback here was that it was impossible to have all of them, although the sadness was tempered by being able to taste a range from smooth and mild up to very pungent.
Even at this stage of the meal, there was more to come- with coffee came some of the most delicious chocolate truffles either of us had ever tasted. That the kitchen was able to maintain standards even at this point of the meal was testament to the commitment of the brigade and the attention paid to the food.
The wine list kept pace with the food. There is a bewitching vertical of Hermitage La Chapelle; although it's well-priced for what it is, only bankers/private equity executives/hedge fund managers need apply. (As a random aside, much of the restaurant's custom is from lawyers.) Fortunately, there is an excellent variety of other wines and a very well-informed sommelier to assist the decision-making process.
So- did the restaurant meet expectations? No- it exceeded them. This is a great restaurant in a superb location, with delicious food, great wines and a staff, in the kitchen and front of house, that really cares. Please go there.