Galvin at Windows – Flying High & Deservedly So

Galvin at Windows
The London Hilton
22 Park Lane, 28th Floor
London W1K 1BE
Website
Map
Online Reservations

  • Dinner: Menu Dégustation at £75, £110 or £130 (depending on wines & courses selected); Menu Prestige at £58 for 3 courses; or À La Carte Menu at £33 for 3 courses
  • Lunch: 2 courses at £19.50; 3 courses at £25; or 3 courses + ½ bottle of wine, water & coffee at £39.50 (through toptable) + Bar Lunch Express dishes for £4-12

Galvin at Windows seems to have achieved a winning combination. The views and setting are stunning, the menu consists of the kind of food you want to eat quite often, and it is executed precisely with a subtle flair. The food we had at our Sunday lunch was delicious and reasonably priced for this type of venue, and I am now eager to try out their other establishments.

Becoming Galvinized

It was the dead of winter, the afternoons were drawing yet shorter, and there I was, still a veritable Galvin virgin. I thought to myself, I must be one of the only self-appointed ‘foodies’  in London who has not yet frequented one of the (then) two Galvin Brothers establishments in the London fog (they have since added the much-lauded and doted over Galvin La Chapelle and offshoot Cafe de Luxe in the City). So, when I discovered after a bit of research that you could get a 3-course lunch at their highest-flying venue for a mere £25/person – even on a Sunday – I decided I that I would finally lose my Galvinity and treat Mrs. LF to what I hoped would be a nice lunch with stunning views.

Perched atop the London Hilton hotel, with a commanding view of a good deal of London, lays Galvin at Windows. I had heard many good things from various friends and food bloggers, so the bar had been set pretty, erm, ‘high’. Upon taking the lift up to the top floor and soaking in the restaurant (and peeping into the nice and spacious bar), first impressions were certainly good. This place didn’t exude much of the cookie-cutter, drab ho-humness that is the global Hilton brand, but actually seemed to radiate with its own design, ambience and energy. The greeting was smooth and the waiters were friendly and professional.

Our beautiful sun bathed table overlooking Park Lane

Although we didn’t get a table right by the window, as I had requested through my toptable booking, we were given a lovely table on the lower floor that looked Northwest up Park Lane and beyond. There is also a raised rectangular dining area that stands about 4 or 5 feet above the ground-level tables. It was not that busy, probably due to the fact that our reservation was for 2pm.

These bros can cook

As we soaked in the view, our tummies were growing hungrier by the minute, so we quickly made up our minds, although all the 3 options for each of the courses did sound very appetizing.

Assortment of breads

With our starters and main courses selected, we were provided with two types of bread and a lovely little beehive of butter, all of which were fine but not stellar. 6/10.

Le Beurre et Le Mâcon Villages – how very French

As I was mainly having veggies and fish, I wanted to go for a white wine (Mrs. LF was not drinking as per usual since ‘the bump’ had appeared :)). I was looking at the wines by the glass, but the sommelier persuaded me that their other deal (3 courses, half a bottle of wine, water & coffee at £39.50) would probably be more economical and enjoyable, and that they had some very nice wines on the accompanying half-bottle selection. Like The Dude I am, I abided, and chose the 2008 Mâcon Villages Caves de L’aurore (Burgundy), which served its purpose very nicely throughout the first two courses. It had a nice golden color, a subtle nose of tropical fruit and a nicely integrated touch of oak. I’ve seen this on other restaurant lists for about £15 per half-bottle, so it was a decent deal given that the water and coffee were basically thrown in for free.

Starter 1: Slow Cooked Hens’ Egg, Warm Salad of Charlotte Potatoes & Smoked Haddock, Whole Grain Mustard Beurre Blanc

Simply put, my starter of slow cooked hens’ egg was as beautiful to look at as it was to taste. Everything here worked well together. When split, the egg yolk that oozed out was of a good thickness and orangey-golden hue. The sea of mustard beurre blanc was a perfect surface for the potatoes and haddock to float upon. The sauce itself was delicious – in fact, I spooned up a good deal of it on its own – and the potatoes were just warm, still firm and exhibited a note of sweetness. The taste of the smoked fish was not overpowering as not too much had been added, and as it all mingled together joyfully in my mouth I had the feeling that this was going to be a good meal. It was certainly an excellent beginning. 8/10.

Starter 2: Ravioli of Braised Beef Short Rib, Roast Red Onion Fondant, Horseradish Velouté

I thought that Mrs. LF’s was also presented in a beautiful and simple manner. Here’s what she thought: “The braised beef short rib inside the ravioli was moist and tender and the ravioli was not too filled (compared to the one I had in the York & Albany earlier in the year). The foam, or velouté, was exquisite: it kind of looked like a cream velouté and almost tasted like so, but was in fact horseradish. This was delicious and very innovative as it was a fusion of Italian and British cuisine.” 8/10.

Main Course 1: Fillet of Royal Bream, Gnocchi, Shellfish & Trompette

Okay, here was the deal-sealer. These boys can cook. Well, it is actually Head Chef André Garret presiding at Windows, but I am sure you get what I mean. This was a pretty flawless bit of cooking. Like my starter, it may not have been the most inventive or complex dish in the world, but it is the kind of thing I like to eat, and could do so quite often. The fish had been cooked to textbook perfection, still moist and soft yet adequately firm with a crispy skin. But, in a way, the real star here was the shellfish sauce, which was truly delectable. Its saltiness and sea flavors played off brilliantly against the slightly sweet and mild flavor of the Gilthead (‘Royal’) Bream. The mushrooms also worked well and the creaminess of the sauce admirably tied the whole dish together. Another 8/10 for me.

Main Course 2: Risotto of Butternut Squash, Sage & Mozzarella

It had become quite bright in the airy dining room, and it turned out that none of the pictures of Mrs. LF’s main course really did it justice. It was a nice looking…risotto. Yes, risotto, an Italian dish if I ever saw one. And I was a little puzzled at what this and the earlier ravioli were doing at this very Anglo-French-seeming restaurant. But nonetheless, this is what the good lady ordered, so was it any good?

Mrs. LF recalls that, “The risotto was cooked perfectly, and the smooth taste of the butternut squash worked well, making the risotto creamy and unctuous – as it should be – although I would have liked some kind of kick coming from one of the remaining ingredients, in order to open my appetite and make me want to go back to the dish after each bite. The taste of the sage didn’t do it for me, but maybe that’s because I am sensitive to strong aroma at the moment (being pregnant). I didn’t taste the mozzarella that was listed on the menu description, but noticed and tasted some shaved parmesan in its place.” 6.5/10.

Shared Dessert: Hot Chocolate Fondant, Salted Caramel, Praline Ice Cream & Hazelnut

In the end, Mrs. LF decided to opt-out of dessert (so her 2-course lunch cost £19.50), and I eventually and reluctantly succeeded to sharing my dessert with her. I really wished we had both got our own portion of this though. After waiting for a long time, one of the waiters informed us that the kitchen had messed up the fondant and was making a new one from scratch – this was annoying but their honesty was appreciated. When it did arrive, it was pretty much the perfect chocolate fondant. A moist dark chocolate cake encased the hot chocolate which gently leached out from its shell upon being broken by my fork. The combination of salty caramel, praline and warm chocolate was divine and I truly enjoyed devouring this little piece of edible beauty. 9/10.

Petit Fours from L’Artisan du Chocolat

After all of the aforementioned lusciousness, I decided I definitely needed a coffee, and then realized that it was conveniently included in my upgraded lunch package. It was a high quality black filter coffee, and the petit fours consisted of two chocolates and two truffles from L’Artisan du Chocolat, which was a nice treat. We have had the pleasure of exploring their range thanks to my parent’s holiday gifts over the past two years, and these didn’t disappoint. I also noted the fact that they provided two of each, so that Mrs. LF could have one even though she hadn’t ordered tea or coffee.

Parting is such sweet sorrow

After relaxing for a bit more, we asked for the bill, and were pleasantly surprised when a glass jar of big, fluffy pink and yellow marshmallows were offered to us as well. They were really good and left us with a well-deserved sweet memory of our meal.

One down, three to go

We looped around the dining room on our way out and had a look at the fun fair down below, and really were on Cloud 9 at this point.

On top of the world – well, London at least!

It had been a smooth, leisurely, pleasant and delicious lunch. Service throughout had been attentive, thoughtful, friendly and efficient. The views and the setting were fairly unique for London and the prices were reasonable within this context. I don’t think I need to say it again, but the food was of a very high calibre: each dish was technically well-cooked and had the added bonus of delicious, tried and tested flavor combinations that we certainly both enjoyed. I can understand why they have just been elevated to 1 Michelin star status in the 2010 UK guide (they didn’t yet hold the star when we dined there).

I am now eager to try their less formal Marylebone Bistrot de Luxe and am meant to be hitting Galvin La Chapelle with some other food bloggers in about a month’s time. I just hope that Jeff and Chris Galvin heed the warning signs of other British chefs who have grown too fast and too furiously in recent years and are now paying the price. In Windows, they definitely seem to have found a winning combination. I hope their other restaurants do the same and that they keep their enterprise manageable and consistently infused with their obvious skill, know-how and cooking ability.

Rating

Ambience: 8/10

Service: 7/10

Food: 7.5/10

Wine: a nice selection of half bottles for the 3-course lunch deal; I didn’t check out the larger list in too much detail

For more about my rating scale, click here.

*Note: I have dined at Galvin at Windows once, and it was for Sunday lunch.*

Galvin at Windows on Urbanspoon

18 thoughts on “Galvin at Windows – Flying High & Deservedly So

  1. Firstly, congrats to both you and the missus🙂 Hope it is a smooth (first?) pregnancy.

    Looks like a great meal. For some reason those eggs are incredibly appealing to me and I rarely choose dishes like that. I like their honesty in owning up to messing up your fondant as well.

    • Hi there, thanks for your comments & congratulations Wild Boar. Yes, it is the first and all smooth so far (about half-way there now)🙂

      Yes, it was a very good & satisfying meal. Like you, I wouldn’t normally order that egg dish, but it did sound appealling and I thought it was really tasty. Service was very smooth, and I did appreciate the honesty of the kitchen and waiter re: the fondant. No point BS’ing.

      Best regards,

      LF

  2. Pingback: Tweets that mention Galvin at Windows – Flying High & Deservedly So « Laissez Fare: Food, Wine & Travel Adventures -- Topsy.com

  3. I’m glad you had such a lovely meal at Windows, thanks for the link to my review, as you’ve seen I absolutely loved the meal I had there and I’m thrilled they got a well deserved star this year.

    Their deals are such a bargain to boot!

  4. Having made 3 trips to Bistrot de Luxe on work related outings I finally managed to get Mrs B there for her b’day on Thursday. So now it’s 4 trips and I’ve managed the steak tartare 3 times and roast veal brains 3 times. I’m so unadventurous but why change a winning choice! Excellent service and great fodder so do get up there. Opposite Knight Frank and BDO’s hq’s but they’ve had their expenses curbed so fewer suits this year.

    • I hope to get to Bistrot de Luxe soon. Seems like really good value and really good food. As for your choices, like you say, why fix something when it ain’t broke! Thanks again for stopping by.

      Best regards,

      LF

    • Thanks for your comment, and always good to get confirmation that someone else thinks along the same lines!🙂

      Best regards,

      LF

  5. ‘It had been a smooth, leisurely, pleasant and delicious lunch. Service throughout had been attentive, thoughtful, friendly and efficient. The views and the setting were fairly unique for London and the prices were reasonable within this context. I don’t think I need to say it again, but the food was of a very high calibre: each dish was technically well-cooked and had the added bonus of delicious, tried and tested flavor combinations that we certainly both enjoyed. I can understand why they have just been elevated to 1 Michelin star status in the 2010 UK guide (they didn’t yet hold the star when we dined there)…’

    -Granted! But, what, out of curiousity, does it take for an establishment to achieve higher than 8/10 in your ratings system?

    • Hi Douglas,

      Thanks for your visit and comment / question.

      I tried to briefly summarize the rating system on the site (under the Ratings tab), but basically each restaurant is judged within the context of the type of restaurant it purports to be, or indeed is formally classified as (i.e. number of Michelin stars). So, if I visit a bistrot and have the best ever dish of that kind I’ve had at a bistrot, than it will get a 10/10, i.e. ‘perfection’.

      There are three scores at the end of each review for ambience, service and food, the numerical scoring of which relates to the same scale (i.e. 5 = average, 6 = good, 7 = very good, etc.). The food score at the end is a rounded average of each dish that was tasted & rated at the meal.

      In the case of Galvin at Windows, they got an ambience score of 8 (= excellent) because I thought the view and the overall vibe of the place was very nice. It could have achieved a higher score had the decor been a bit more updated, for example, so it wasn’t perfect (=10). The service received a score of 7 (= very good) as that’s what I thought the best summary of it was – it was indeed ‘very good’ but not more than that. Everyone performed their function efficiently and pleasantly, but there wasn’t that extra personal touch you often get in such restaurants. As for the food, a lot of the dishes received an 8 (= excellent) and the fondant got a 9 (= nearly perfect). These dishes were judged within a context of 1-ish Michelin starred restaurants, and while I thought most of the dishes we had were of a very high caliber, they didn’t (in my humble opinion) have that extra flair or inventiveness that would have put them at the top echelons within this category. They were beautiful, classic and tasty, but I’m not sure I would remember all of these dishes in a year’s time. The fondant might have gotten a 10 if it weren’t for the fact that the ice cream had already sort of melted by the time it reached or table and also if it had something to give the dish a bit of crunch (it was all very soft texture-wise), for example.

      I hope this helps. Obviously rating systems like this are tricky, and I continue to evolve the system as the blog goes on, but I do try to remain as consistent as possible and often re-check past meals to make sure that everything is roughly in line with everything else. Any help or suggestions would greatly be appreciated.

      By the way, I have long been a fan of your blog/writing, so keep up the great work.

      Best regards,

      LF

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