11 August 2015
This was a rather uneven experience. The room was impressive, but with a huge number of covers and intrusive airco. The staff showed a distinct variability in performance which, in some cases, amounted to being completely unobservant and uninterested, and in others warmth and professionalism. Another question mark regarding the professionalism of this outfit was squarely placed after the performance of the sommelier who seemed incapable of pronouncing French words comprehensibly, which is seriously ironic given the close links of Galvin with the great Rhône winemaker Jaboulet and the wine pairing with the Menu Gourmand consisting entirely of some of the latter's world-renowned best wines, and yet the young lady who served us to begin with knew just what was required. The restaurant manager, who eventually showed an interest in how our experience was going, was extremely good, but presumably he is responsible for staff training. The seven course Menu Gourmand began with what we were given to understand is a signature dish, lasagne of crab and scallop mousse with a lovely chive-laden beurre Nantais. The main ingredients were nice and the crab did not dominate, the good temperature stayed consistent and the presentation was excellent. At least we were told what that dish was, which was not the case for the next two dishes, which were simply plonked on the table and the servers were away in a flash. We were not impressed by either the ballotine of Landes foie gras, which had been so creamed up as to be difficult to identify, especially from the texture point of view, and which we also found underseasoned, which it had to remain as there was no salt in the cellar, or the "chaud-froid" of heritage tomatoes comprising a slice of beefsteak tomato with some mozzarella in the centre plus a deep-fried ball of some green tomato with an unidentified filling in mine but nothing in my wife's. A one-star rip-off if ever there was one, a verdict offered by the diners on the adjacent table. Pavé of cod followed, accompanied by charlotte potato, peas, cobnuts for crunch, girolles (French) and an interesting vin jaune sauce. The best dish of the evening was the spectacularly presented tagine of very tasty Bresse pigeon on couscous with nuts and olives, a quail's egg on a bed of spinach, a clove of garlic, harissa sauce and a perfectly matching baba ganoush mix. The cheese course, a soft and creamy cow's milk cheese from the south of France, was served with perfect figs and a marvellous complement of crystallised honey. A classic tarte Tatin with Normandy crème fraîche made a decent finale to the meal, which had promised more than it delivered and, given the current emphasis in the restaurant trade on local produce, paid little attention to the air miles factor. To say that the best thing about the evening was the outstanding wine pairing is quite sad, but that was our verdict.