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Posts Tagged ‘Galvin Bistro de Luxe’

Dean Street Townhouse interior (photo from the restaurant via Zagat.com)

Saturday night.  Where to go?   Soho.  Looking for someplace stylish and fun but that also serves good food.  A tall order.  Cue the Dean Street Townhouse, which the pros (like the anonymous folks at TimeOut) have universally praised, and which the bloggers have given mixed reviews.

One thing everyone can agree on:  the place deserves its high marks for decor and buzz.  The be-hatted man at the door at DTH  reminded me of the bowler-hatted guy greeting diners at Galvin La Chapelle, and I do tend to like what the Galvin brothers get up to.  When I stepped through the doorway into the restaurant, I immediately felt like having a good time.  A good Saturday night pick.

Our group of five ordered a round of aperitifs and then got down to the business of ordering off DTH’s menu of English classics, which meant that everything looked like what you’d find at a gastropub.  Except priced higher because DTH is a see-and-be-seen sort of place.

scallops starter (£5.50 per scallop)

Starters were good, but not great.  Two friends were winners of the evening’s prize for best starter by sticking with oysters on the half shell.  Fresh briney treats beautifully presented.  A generous portion of prawn-and-avocado for £9 included prawns that tasted a tad mushy, but the light dressing and lovely, creamy-ripe avocados saved the dish.  My scallops were slightly rubbery but were doused in so much butter and bacon that it was hard to tell.  Bacon covers a lot of sins.  Generally, the starters were so-so unless you stuck with the oysters.

duck breast with caramelized quince (£21.50)

For mains, our server highly recommended the duck breast over the chicken-and-leek pie.  His rationale started with “the ladies all love duck” and ended with “it’s really good.”  And yup, it was good, with most of the fat having been rendered and the meat juicy and pink.  Another huge portion, though.

Mains, generally, seemed better priced than starters, mostly because there was such a wide range of prices to choose from.  One friend ordered fish and chips for £13.75 (fish was moist and batter crispy); another two ordered fish courses for £16-17; and yet another tried the most expensive item, the rib steak with bearnaise and fries, topping out at £26.50.  The consensus was that the food was good.  Not the best you’ve ever had, but far far from the worst.

chocolate mousse with blood oranges (£5.50)

Our starters and mains had been so generously sized that it was tough to make room for dessert.  My shared mousse was more like a gelato than a light-and-fluffy mousse, but rich, bitter chocolate in gelato form is no bad thing, even if it’s not mousse.

Side dishes, each priced at £4, weren’t worth the extra money.  Creamed spinach was all butter, little cream; mashed potatoes came lukewarm and dense.  Cauliflower cheese was the best of the bunch but I’d rather have macraoni in there over cauliflower, really.  We’d ordered greens, which thankfully never came.  (My exchange with the server when ordering the greens went like this, by the way — Me:  “What kind of greens are they?”  Server:  “They’re greens.”  Helpful.)

Best deals of the night were our wines, which went well with our dinner and each cost £25.  For generous amounts of generally-good food,  aperitifs and wine, we paid £56 a person.

Overall, DTH was comparable in price, atmosphere and quality-of-cooking to Galvin Bistro de Luxe, except Soho is more fun on a Saturday night than Baker Street.  (Well, and the food at Galvin Bistro de Luxe, while comparable, is better, really).  Given the noise level, DTH isn’t a good choice for a quiet night out with the love of your life, but for catching up with a group of friends, I’d be glad to return.

Dean Street Townhouse, 69-71 Dean Street, W1D 3SE; 0207 434 1775; closest tube station: Leicester Square
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Galvin La Chapelle interior

I love Galvin Bistro de Luxe in Marylebone for its convivial atmosphere, its professional service, and its bistro classics served at reasonable prices. So when Galvin La Chapelle recently opened just a few steps from my office, I disregarded this negative review and, last Friday, dragged my friend BK there for lunch.

This post should be taken with a bigger grain of salt than usual because I tried only one dish, but here are my impressions anyway:

  • Prices at Galvin La Chapelle are noticeably higher than they are at Galvin Bistro. Although the gorgeous, soaring-ceiling interior of La Chapelle sets it apart from the cozy, homey interior of Galvin Bistro, I recognized one or two dishes on La Chapelle’s menu from Galvin Bistro’s menu. For example, both places offer the Dorset crab lasagne, but La Chapelle’s version costs about 20% more (based on what I remember from my last visit to the Bistro two months ago).
  • The service at Galvin La Chapelle was gracious and friendly. I initially felt slightly out of place among the business-suited crowd eating leisurely lunches, but our server chatted us up and made us feel quite welcome.  BK and I had to get in and out at a reasonable hour, so we skipped starters and shared one dish: the roast cote de boeuf, truffle macaroni and Hermitage jus for £53.

roast cote de boeuf (£53 to be shared by two)

bone marrow

  • The beef was sliced and served tableside, perfectly medium-rare. It was all quite a to-do.  The slices of beef were juicy to begin with, drizzled with the intense jus, and served with gelatinously-fatty bone marrow and sweet, creamy roasted garlic. The watercress was there to make us feel less unhealthy, I suppose.

    black truffle macaroni and cheese

  • The accompanying truffle macaroni, which I’d expected to be a throwaway item, was all comfort and earthiness. I loved the combo of bite from the cheese and the smooth cream, and I could actually taste the black truffle.  So for once, the truffle wasn’t just for show.

Our lunch cost about £31 a person for just a main course and a drink, which made for a rather pricey lunch.   I can’t say the meal was good value, but I also don’t feel ripped off.  Our cote de boeuf was delicious and filling with the well-executed sides; the room is beautiful; and the service was fast and friendly.  I’ll keep La Chapelle in mind the next time I’m in need of an elegant meal out, but I suspect my next lunch is more likely to be at the cheaper Cafe de Luxe next door.

Galvin La Chapelle, 35 Spital Square, E1 6DY; 0207 299 0400; closest Tube station: Liverpool Street
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dining room at Galvin Bistro de Luxe

dining room at Galvin Bistro de Luxe

Normalement, I make up my own mind and hate being a follower. But when Thomas Keller says he likes a place, I’m not ashamed to follow in his footsteps. Plus, I’m a francophile. Throw in the title of French Restaurant of the Year, and really, why did it take me so long to visit Galvin Bistro de Luxe?

Jon and I met friends at Galvin Bistro de Luxe last weekend, and when we arrived, the place was packed. And not with just anyone. No, packed with French speakers! While not a must-have for a bistro in London, it was a nice sign.

crab "lasagna" at Galvin Bistro de Luxe

crab "lasagna" at Galvin Bistro de Luxe

Starters included some not-obviously French items like crab “lasagna.” It didn’t look the way you’d expect, but sure enough, there was firm, al dente pasta in there layered with a rich, seafood crab meat. Tasty.

entrecote with pommes anna

entrecote with pommes anna

Honestly, I was shocked by how big the portion sizes are. The plat du jour, an entrecote (aka rib eye) served medium rare (at £18.50, one of the pricier menu items), included a generous slice of buttery pommes anna, buttery string beans, buttery bearnaise, and some totally token watercress. Butter really does make it better, no?

cheese tray at Galvin Bistro

cheese tray at Galvin Bistro

Well, no self-respecting French Restaurant of the Year could fail to have a cheese tray full of interesting and delish cheeses, served with a dollop of generosity. I hogged a few slices of cheese from my friend’s cheese platter, and then moved onto my dessert: a blackberry souffle.

blackberry souffle at Galvin Bistro

blackberry souffle at Galvin Bistro

I’d seen a couple of these souffles flying around the room, and it looked too good to resist. When it arrived, it was hot and airy, but after digging inside, I found the souffle so undercooked as to still constitute batter. And it was a bit too sugary. How disappointing. I wanted so much to love thee, blackberry souffle.

pear tarte tatin at Galvin Bistro

pear tarte tatin at Galvin Bistro

Cue the beautifully-crisped, buttery-crusted, caramelized pear tarte tatin. It was the crowning glory to a butter-filled wonder of a meal.

Galvin Bistro de Luxe is where you go for a long, convivial dinner. The restaurant really was a slice of Paris on an otherwise-charmless Baker Street.

For starters, mains, desserts and wine for all, our tab was £60 a person, including service. Not cheap, but good value for attentive service, a buzzy room, and large portions of tasty bistro classics. (And a steal compared to a trip on the Eurostar).

Galvin Bistro de Luxe, 66 Baker Street, W1U 7DJ, 0207 933 4007; closest tube station: Baker Street
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