22 Park Ln, Mayfair, London W1K 1BE www.galvinatwindows.com
It’s a Norman Conquest with the special set lunch at Galvin at Windows, finds Nick.
Is it? Yes it is, it’s Fred Sireix of Channel 4’s First Dates and Tried and Tested: The Ultimate Shopping List welcoming us to to Galvin at Windows. He may now be a bit of a TV star, but he’s still got his day job of being one of the best restaurant managers in London.
He’s here most lunchtimes,he says, and he’s keen to extol the virtues of the new Normandy menu of the restaurant’s head chef, Joo Won,one that draws on the flavours of the region. It’s a lunchtime special only, with three courses for £37 and available throughout September.
That’s good price for a Michelin-starred restaurant with great views, and while it may not be the only sky-high restaurant in London, it still has one of the best locations.
First though it’s off to the bar for a quick cocktail from the new Galvin at Windows Cocktail Passport, a choice of fancy cocktails inspired by places around the world. I pick the Normandie, as its Normandy month, which arrives in a porcelain bowl.This is a bit disconcerting and I’m not sure whether to hold it by both handles and look like Oliver Twist, or grasp it insouciantly by one handle and risk dropping the lot.
It’s good either way though and the view from the bar is so distracting that few people are watching my gauche drinking efforts, not even P who is wrapped around a large glass of house red. She doesn’t like cocktails, except G&T.
Off to the dining room which I think has barely changed in all the years I’ve been coming here, it’s neither old nor modern just calm and classy. A massive trolley full of brandy and armagnacs trundles past on its way to some lucky table, the diners probably aren’t going back to the office this afternoon..
The special lunch menu is choice of three starters, three mains and three desserts, with a drinks option of £10 for two glasses of any wine on the special lunch wine list. Simple stuff so that those on a short lunch hour can make decisions quickly.
I decide on the pickled mackerel with radish, cucumber and some leaf all dressed with a cider (Normandy alert) vinaigrette. I think there’s some miso in there too. It’s a very pretty dish, the mackerel not overly strong and its flesh soft and yielding, all contrasted by the crispy crunch of the cucumber and radish slices. A delicate dish.
P’s salad of beetroot, fig, almond granola and jelly (made with that great Normandy export Calvados), doesn’t overly excite her until the end when the granola has soaked up all the juices from the other ingredients to become delicious forkfuls. She also likes the figs, squeezing out their flesh messily and happily.
Her main goes down even better, a perfectly pan-fried sea bream fillet with crispy skin set on a bed of shellfish and French (what else?) beans and moated with a cider veloute that is rich and good enough to stick a straw into.
I wanted that myself really and so, not wanting gnocchi, I’ve gone for the other menu choice of corn-fed chicken and mushrooms in an apple and cider jus. Yes I know, never order chicken unless you’re in a KFC, but needs must.
The chicken is a very good bird, the breast sliced into fat, plumped, pure white pillows with proper crispy skin. The mushroom mix is lightly sauteed and has kept texture across all the mushroom types. I love a jus, it’s not something you get to see much of these days as chefs don’t seem to be trained to make them anymore. So good I get a hunk of my rather nice bread and wipe my plate clean.
The spiced rice pudding, salted fudge and pineapple sorbet that P ends with goes down well, like all the dishes it’s not a big portion but just enough for people who have to get back to work. I can’t stand salted caramel or chocolate, although I like both on their own, so I don’t taste any of it.
My toffee apple terrine with caramel cream and Calvados ice cream feels heavier than it is and I slip it down with, as they say,’a sneaky’ Muscat de Beaumes de Venise as recommended by the efficient sommelier.
All in all a very enjoyable lunch priced just right. There are all kinds of places to have lunch in London but for a bit of a treat, or to impress a client economically, Galvins at Windows continues to be a very safe bet.