25 January 2010

Galvin Cafe de Luxe

A terrine of ham hock and foie gras
I've always been a big fan of the Galvin brothers, having first been seduced by the simple French bistro fare served at Galvin Bistrot de Luxe in Baker Street, their first joint venture as restaurateurs in 2005. Then followed, the recently Michelin star awarded Galvin at Windows at the top of the Hilton Park Lane in 2006, with it's stunning food and beautiful views of London. Towards the end of the last year, the brothers added Galvin La Chapelle and Galvin Cafe de Luxe in Spitalfields to their ever growing mini-empire.

Galvin La Chapelle is housed in St Botolph’s Hall, a Grade II-listed Victorian church hall, is the refined older sibling of the two new restaurants. While Cafe de Luxe is the less formal of the two. It's been noted by a few critics that Cafe de Luxe lacks the grandeur of La Chapelle and is slightly cramped. Okay, so the tables are a little close together, but that only adds to the intimate bistro atmosphere. All in all, with it's dark atmospheric lighting, white crisp table clothes and chrome fixtures, eating in Cafe de Luxe you almost feel like you've been transported to Gaye Paree, complete with all the noise and waiting staff in black aprons.  It's just how a bistro should look and feel.


Celeriac remoulade with pork rillettes, saucisson sec & cornichons
The menu showcases a series of French classics - endive salad with walnut and Roquefort and steak tartare, strangely peppered with Italian influences such as the buffalo mozzarella and parsley caponata. We started with the terrine of ham hock and foie gras, served with a spoonful of apple puree and cornichons. The terrine itself was a sizable slice of meat, covered in melt-in-your-mouth spots of fatty foie gras - it was foie gras heaven for the AB. 

Slow cooked pork belly with savoy cabbage & quince jelly
 Intrigued by the name, I opted for the Charcuterie Maison - a wooden board comprising a bowl of celeriac remoulade, a large dollop of pork rillettes and slices of saucisson sec and cornichons. If I'm totally honest, when it arrived I was slightly disappointed and envious of the AB's terrine.  Nevertheless, I appreciated, the dish for its rustic flavours and presentation. The remoulade was incredibly fresh and light, while the rillette was smothered on bread eaten with the cornichon was sublime accompaniment.

Grilled rib-eye steak, pommes Anna and beranise sauce
The mains like the starters were huge. The slow cooked belly pork, a large slice of meat on an island of buttery cabbage and sea of quince puree, had an even balance of fat and meat. The pork was ever so tender, so much so it melted in the mouth on taste.   The steak was equally good. It was served a perfect medium, with a side of hot and crispy pommes Anna (sliced potatoes) and a watercress salad.   I loved it.  If only I'd known what was to come.  The meat was ever so juicy, and the bearnaise rich and buttery.  Oh how I regretted filling up on the fresh, crusty bread and devillish French butter. 

Verdict: I really love Galvin Cafe de Luxe.   It may be a pared down Galvin, but I think Cafe de Luxe stands on its own as a destination in its own right. It strikes a balance between being buzzy and intimate. I'm definitely returning.  

Galvin Cafe de Luxe on Urbanspoon

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