Fancy jacking in corporate life and striking out on your own?
Brothers Chris and Jeff Galvin did just that. They’ve left their safe – and good – jobs, as head chefs at The Wolseley and L’Escargot respectively to set up this ‘bistrot de luxe’ in the anonymous environs of Baker Street.
The premises that were once Anda have been totally made over in a sombre-hued traditional vein: all wood panelling, dark slate and white linen. The aim is presumably to evoke a gentlemen’s club or perhaps a continental brasserie like Racine, but the look has ended up a bit swish-international. Like a Four Seasons hotel.
Such ‘corporate’ styling seems odd for such a personal venture (the pictures, by sister Sarah being an honourable exception). And this rather ‘safe’ impression carried on into the cooking. The classic dishes were impeccably well-mannered. But, if they are truly going to ‘wow’, such artfully simple creations need real depths of flavour that, at least on this visit, was only intermittently present. Where is that ingredient X they kept back for the time when they would going to be their own bosses?
I don’t wish to carp. My main course – a black pudding and oxtail dish – was outstanding. And this was only their second day in business for heavens sake! The Galvin brothers have quickly created a professional all-rounder at fairly modest prices in a thin area. And the overall style – including the slightly stiff service – will doubtless evolve as things settle in.
If I were to say something to them I’d say this. If your aim is a bistrot, even a ‘de luxe’ one, it shouldn’t feel serious (or corporate). You’ve broken out guys: so lighten up.