Harden's survey result
The “most enchanting setting” – “an out-of-this-world conversion of an old church” (to be precise, the chapel of a Victorian school) – makes the Galvin Bros’ Spitalfields HQ one of London’s most “beautiful” restaurants. It provides a “special” backdrop “for keen business deals, or to impress your new love-interest” (and is “a particular attraction for guests from overseas”). There are “high standards across the board”, including “fantastic” modern French cuisine; a “classy wine list”; and “smart, swift, discreet service”.
The “exciting and gorgeous” setting (a “spectacular” conversion of a Victorian school chapel) helps create “a certain aura” – fitting both romantic dinners and power lunching – at the Galvin Bros’ Spitalfields fixture. Its “fabulous standard” of modern French cuisine and “professional but easy-going service” won it more consistent praise this year as one of the best all-rounders in the City, and, some would say, in town.
“A sumptuous and dramatic setting” – the “elegant” conversion of a Victorian school chapel – provides “one of the best dining rooms in London” at the Galvin’s celebrated Spitalfields fixture. At its best it’s still a “fabulous all-rounder” for business or pleasure, with “superb French food, served with flair”. Its ratings have slipped in the last couple of years however – “disjointed service” is the biggest bugbear.
“The breathtaking architecture of the building” – “a beautiful, cathedral-like space” created from the “clever conversion of a Victorian school chapel” – creates a “magnificent” setting for the Galvin brothers’ well-known venture, near Spitalfields. At its best, this is one of London’s most “memorable” all-rounders (particularly for business) combining “smooth” service and “subtle cuisine” into a “sumptuous” overall offering. Performance was less consistent this year however, with reports of “over-stretched if well-intentioned” service, and “uneven” culinary results.
Galvin La Chapelle Restaurant Diner Reviews
"High end well executed cooking in a splendid building. Rather expensive for what it delivers which is a bit unambitious"
"The food is unadventurous but it hardly matters when it is this good, the service was first class with an excellent sommelier. All this in a wonderful environment and it is not even all that expensive."
"Classic French food perfectly cooked, superb service and a wonderful setting. Even if you go on a cheap lunchtime deal you're treated like someone special."
|Wine per bottle||£35.00|
Galvin La Chapelle E1
A top-quality Galvin brothers 'bistro de luxe'-style operation, in a wonderful Shoreditch building whose scale and location arguably call for something a little less traditional; for City suits, though, it looks set to be a 'wow'.
Chris and Jeff Galvin are heroes of the restaurant scene. The quality and value of the Gallic bistro fare at their flagship, the eponymous Marylebone 'bistro de luxe', has made it a benchmark. Under their tenancy, the 'Windows' dining room on the 28th floor of the Park Lane Hilton no longer trades exclusively on its impressive view.
No wonder their ambitious conversion of this Victorian school chapel in Shoreditch - into a restaurant and brasserie - has been so keenly awaited.
First impressions of the main room are encouraging. Feeling like a sort of cross between the Wolseley and a medieval barn, this is undoubtedly one of London's few 'wow' dining spaces.
A new half-mezzanine, however, (though elegantly done, in itself) does rather reduce the impact. And for a place which is potentially so clearly 'different', it felt rather odd to us to have staff dressed as if at Le Gavroche.
It quickly becomes clear that, despite the dramatic and interesting setting and the still 'edgy' location, this is as traditional a French restaurant as you'll find in London.
Any doubts on this front are laid to rest by the menu, which is totally devoid of surprise in either presentation or content.
That's not in any sense to imply that you will not eat very well indeed here (and at notably reasonable prices too). From the set lunch menu, an escabeche of red mullet was exemplary, and a boudin noir with caramelised apples and creamed potatoes was pretty much perfection (if arguably too generous).
Similarly, it was difficult to see how a pear tarte Tatin (the pudding of which the kitchen is apparently most proud) could have been done much better. From the carte, a guest much approved her starter of scallops and Noirmoutiers potatoes, and a perfect pavé of halibut.
The only real downside on the food front was bread: slices of not very interesting pain de campagne.
In the first days, the service managed to be both a touch too slow and, our guest thought, rather too grand and solicitous. There were still some oddities to be ironed out too: the sommelier, for example, did not seem to understand our bemusement that many 250ml wine carafes come at twice the price of a 175ml glass of the same wine.
Such quirks will no doubt be resolved. What's less likely to go away, however, is our feeling that an opportunity to create a real 'statement' restaurant, gearing up on the extraordinary space, has not fully been realised. Is the wrapping not just too enticing and interesting for content in such tried-and-tested style?
That's easy enough to say, of course. In current market conditions, proceeding with the venture at all was bravery enough. We have little doubt that crowds of City suits will quickly validate it.
35 Spital Sq, London, E1 6DY
|Monday||12 pm‑2 pm, 6 pm‑9:30 pm|
|Tuesday||12 pm‑2 pm, 6 pm‑9:30 pm|
|Wednesday||12 pm‑2 pm, 6 pm‑9:30 pm|
|Thursday||12 pm‑2:30 pm, 6 pm‑10:30 pm|
|Friday||12 pm‑2:30 pm, 6 pm‑10:30 pm|
|Saturday||12 pm‑2:30 pm, 6 pm‑10:30 pm|
|Sunday||12 pm‑3 pm, 6 pm‑9 pm|