I took someone close to my heart for a birthday dinner at Galvin at Windows. I wantedÂ a very special evening with romantic atmosphere (which I got), impeccable service (which I got), stunning views over London (I got them too) and excellent food (which I didn’t get).
Who gave this place a Michelin star I wonder? Either there were larger sums of bribery involved, or Galvin at Windows just stopped putting any effort into their food after they had achieved their first star in 2010. There is of course always the discussion to which extent Michelin stars reflect the quality of the food in a restaurant, but it still hardly ever happened to me that a Michelin starred place served food that was actually bordering on bad.
But let’s start with the things that I liked (because I am a nice blog):
The restaurant is located in the 28 floor of the Hilton Hotel on Park Lane with spectacular views over London. At least they would have been stunning if it hadn’t been for the apocalyptic downpour, but this is something I can’t really blame the restaurant for, can I.
Some people don’t like restaurants in hotels and think it affects the atmosphere. In my opinion this is true to some extent as hotel restaurants are usually generic and lack any edge. Even though this applied to Galvin as well, I still enjoyed the bright and spacious room and of course the view.
When I booked the table and mentioned that it was to be a birthday dinner, the lovely person taking my booking offered to make a little birthday plate with chocolates, how nice is this? Also apart from this, the service was faultless, if maybe a bit too stiff. But this probably comes with the Hilton.
Now the food…
We chose the Menu Du Chef for 39 pounds. If you want to splash out, you can go for the Menu Prestige (65 pounds for 3 courses) or the Tasting Menu. Retrospectively, I was glad we didn’t overdo it on this occasion, as I wouldn’t have wanted to sit through a tasting menu of this quality, a horrible thought actually.
I really liked the bread, in fact the bread was one of the highlights of the meal. Fresh from the oven and still hot, crisp and light. The amuse bouche was a clear, cold tomato consomme (which I had much better at Fernandez & Leluu Supper Club) with a little pastry thing and a blob of greenish brown sauce. By the way, this unattractive sauce blob appeared again and again with the starters and the mains and bode ill.
Both the starters were highly mediocre. The Terrine of Guinea Fowl, foie gras, and Bayonne ham and crispy skin certainly contained high quality ingredients, and might have been really good, if it hadn’t come with greenish-brown blob of caper and raisin puree. This firstly didn’t go very well with the terrine and secondly was quite unpleasant.
The Veloute of English Asparagus, slow cooked duck’s egg, goat’s curd and sourdough croutons was blandness on a plate. It says a lot about the dish that we had to ask for salt and pepper to make it edible.
The mains were almost worse. The Organic pork cutlet which was advertised to come with fondant potatoes, confit carrot, confit, grilled nectarine and sauce Robert was bone-dry and there was no apricot to be found anywhere on the plate. The sauce Robert was nice though.
When I saw the greenish-brown sauce blobs on the plate ofÂ Fillet of gilthead sea bream, crushed new potatoes, slow roasted tomatoes, black olives caramel & salsa verde I feared for the worst. The fish was overcooked and drowned in pungent olive flavour. This was a dish which you wouldn’t even enjoy in a country pub without any credentials.
At least one course was excellent and this was the dessert of Tonka bean panna cotta, strawberries, strawberry jelly and buttermilk ice cream. It seems Tonka beans are the flavour of the moment and rightly so, as they taste of vanilla, cinnamon, cloves and other wonderful spices. I had a tonka bean panna cotta only a couple of weeks ago at the Opera Tavern and I am still dreaming of its deliciousness. The Galvin at Windows version was also lovely. The panna cotta had a beautiful creamy texture and tasted like a spice shop, but subtly so. Nicely complementing this flavour firework were the neutral buttermilk ice cream and the sweet strawberries. If you haven’t had the chance to try tonka beans yet, do order them when you come across them anywhere on a dessert menu.
More grandness yet to come in from of the cheese course. The cheeses are sourced from La Fromagerie, so they deserve the praise really. Reminds me I should go back to La Fromagerie soon, so I can enjoy the cheese without having to sit through a tedious meal.
- Food: 4/10
- Service: 8/10
- Ambiance: 8/10
- Value for Money: 3/10
- Chances of Returning: 0%
- Verdict: You could go there for cheese, dessert and the view, but don’t spend your hard earned money on this highly dubious food.