27 May 2013

Galvin La Chapelle

Due to it's proximity to my old office and one of our regular haunts, Spitalfields market, Galvin La Chapelle was one of our very first fine dining experiences when we celebrated our engagement a few years ago. We've also been to Cafe a Vin a number of times and have enjoyed some meals and snacks there. This Sunday we decided to return for lunch.

Undoubtedly one of the best dining spaces in London, La Chapelle is a converted Victorian school chapel with a gorgeous wooden beamed roof, open bricked upper walls and on a bright morning provides a large well lit, airy space, with the sun beaming through the lovely arched windows, absolutely perfect for a spring lunch. La Chapelle has a reputation as a good family venue for Sunday lunch, and that was evident in the crowd on the day, a table of board games and toys was available for any children, along with a chicken and ice cream meal for £9.50. Also present were the Ray Rich Band, playing Jazz classics and modern songs, their loungecore cover of Daft Punk's Get Lucky was most amusing. Grazing on some of those shiny bright green olives and a glass of Pommery rose champagne, the initial idea that I was going to have the Sunday set lunch menu, was waylaid due to the a la carte menu being available, and I was able to try some of the dishes I missed on the previous visit.

First course was a signature dish, Lasagne of Dorset Crab. The lasagne was crab mousse sandwiched in between wafer thin sheets of pasta, and this was served with a beurre nantais and pea shoots. The crab mousse was incredibly light and well flavoured, the beurre nantais having an excellent kick of lemon with the sweet shallots and garden fresh pea shoots providing another well matched dimension to the dish. This was a superb dish. My wife's starter was a dish of white asparagus, truffle, truffle mayonnaise, morels and a poached egg. The asparagus and morels were of good quality, with the truffle element being noticeable, another good starter. Accompanying the starter was a glass of 2011 GrĂ¼ner Veltliner Selection, Weingut Rieden.

My main was another signature dish, the Tagine of Bresse Pigeon, couscous, confit lemon and harissa sauce. It was presented a large black tagine dish, and featured two pigeon elements, the breast and a wrap of crispy skin filled with the leg and wing meat, these came with couscous, aubergine puree, a quails egg on a bed of spinach and a pan of harissa sauce. The Bresse pigeon was excellent, lovely breast meat served rare and the wrap of crisp skin and tasty leg meat a savoury and rich accompaniment.  The harissa sauce was intense and I used it sparingly with the main dish to give a heated North African flavour. The couscous was particularly good, featuring golden raisins, almonds and slices of olive, one of the nicest examples of it's kind I've ever had. The confit lemon was a new one for me, it went perfectly with the meat and not a hint of bitterness but tons of sweet lemon flavour. This was a fabulous dish, a range of delicious elements and a whole brigade of flavours I wouldn't normally expect in a French restaurant. My wife's dish was Agnolotti of ricotta, capers, golden raisins, tomato fondue and parmesan. This was a sophisticated dish, the elements providing a huge depth of flavour that started sweet from the raisins and and finishing on a umami rich parmesan flavour.

My dessert was Macerated gariguette strawberries, shortcake, marshmallow and lemon verbena ice cream. The strawberries were absolutely stunning, the nicest strawberries I've had a long time, perfumed and intense with flavour and even better than the wild strawberries I had recently. The shortbread was excellent, as were the strawberry marshmallows and ice cream. My wifes dessert was lemon curd on a pistachio sable, lavender meringues and a white chocolate ice cream. The biscuit, curd and meringue I tried were great, the tart curd balanced well against the sweet parts. Accompanying this was a glass of excellent Tokaji Aszu.

We will definitely return for the Sunday lunch on our next visit to Spitalfields and Brick Lane markets. I'm eager to try one of the roasts cooked to this standard too. Service was friendly and efficient, and the although the bill came to £207, this was the a la carte menu, our next visit we will try the Sunday lunch menu, at £29.50 (£38.50 will get you half a bottle too), this is a good price for a Sunday lunch featuring some excellent food, a superb room and some live music.

Looking up.

Lasagne of Dorset Crab, beurre nantais, pea shoots.

Chilled white asparagus, poached egg, truffle.

Tagine of Bresse pigeon, aubergine, cous cous, confit lemon & harissa sauce.

Agnolotti of ricotta, capers, golden raisins, pine nuts, tomato fondue & parmesan.

Macerated Gariguette strawberries, strawberry marshmallow, shortbread, lemon verbena ice cream, basil.

Lemon curd, pistachio sable, lavender meringue & white chocolate ice cream.

Petit four's.

Galvin La Chapelle

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