Galvin La Chapelle opens

Saturday, February 06th , 2010

 apsleys 3648 dining room-crop-v2.JPG

Galvin La Chapelle is the latest venture form the Galvin Brothers, who run the successful Galvins and Galvin at Windows.   The menu formula is similar, with a non-threatening array of British and French bistro dishes.  However the star is the dining room, the restored St Botolph’s Hall giving a wonderful setting, with its extensive skylights and great sense of space.  The cooking was fine, though service needed some polishing based on my experience.

Apsleys (pictured) was awarded a Michelin star recently and it is easy to see why.  The desserts, so often an afterthought in Italian restaurant, are perhaps the strongest suit of all here.   The restaurant has suffered some reviews that are ignorant even by the lowly standards of London’s professional food critics, so I was particularly pleased to see Michelin’s recognition for the superb cooking and very hard work of chef Massimiliano Blasone. I actually had not one but two meals here this week, and although there is still some inconsistency, the cooking is of a very high standard, shown through a wide range of dishes.  It was noticeable that the least two good dishes of a lunchtime meal were on the cheap set lunch menu, so it is perhaps worth sticking with the a la carte of you are to enjoy the best of the kitchen’s dishes.  The desserts seem to me to be operating at two star level, and certain savoury dishes are too, such as a superb spaghetti of monkfish.  Based on my recent meals I am nudging the score on the web site up by a point.  You might also like to look through the photos.  If you skip through to the ones dated 2010 you can see the higher quality pictures taken by my new camera compared to the old one.

Amaya has an unusual menu for an Indian restaurant, offering just grilled or tandoori food, followed by biriani, with not a curry in sight, no popadoms and just a couple of bread options. While this is unusual, it does showcase the tandoori cooking, which for me is the real highlight of Indian cooking.  Here they execute it very well.  Black pepper chicken tikka is essentially malai tikka, and was very tender indeed.  Tandoori quail was conveniently off the bone.  A diver-caught scallop in its shell was nicely cooked though as a minor point the flesh not properly trimmed.  Fish tikka had a lively marinade, and the chicken biriani was as fragrant as ever.  Naan bread was reasonable.  The prices are high here but at least the food delivers, unlike so many posh Indian restaurants in London.

I have made some changes to the map of 3 star Michelin restaurants.  You now have the facility to not just see a location flag of the various restaurants, but to click through directly from the map to the relevant review (thanks to PJ for fixing the bug in the mapping software utility that previously prevented this).  

The legendary wine cellar of venerable Tour d’Argent in Paris is now a little smaller as they sold off a mere 4% of their 450,000 bottles, making a cool 1.5 million Euros in the process.  The restaurant has just one Michelin star these days but its iconic status was reflected in its featuring in the cartoon film Ratatouille.