Galvin La Chapelle

35 Spital Square, London, England, E1 6DY, United Kingdom

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Galvin La Chapelle is in a really striking building, the Victorian St Bidolph’s Hall, originally a girl’s school that had become neglected, but is now beautifully restored. The vaulting ceiling and skylights help to create a most impressive space for dining. There is also an adjoining bar and café – Café de Luxe.

The wine list stretches to 20 pages, and although heavily oriented to France, gives some global coverage in addition. The excellent Mas de Daumas Gassac 1997 red was listed at a tolerable £99 given its retail price of around £43; long gone are the days when I used to buy this lovely wine for around £8 before it was “discovered”. Chateau Talbot 2001 was more heavily marked up at £220 for a wine that can easily be bought for around £60. In the New World section of the list, Shaw & Smith M3 Chardonnay 2008 was £54 for a wine that costs around £15 to buy in the shops. As is fitting given the restaurant’s name, Hermitage La Chapelle is highlighted with an extensive range of vintages including the great 1961, though this costly wine is likely to appeal only to investment bankers celebrating a vast deal.

As with the other Galvin ventures, the menu is easy on the eye, with British and French dishes that do not involve any wacky ingredient combinations. The prices have already jumped significantly in price since opening (thanks to DG for pointing this out).  At the time of writing starters average over £10, main courses £20, desserts £8, but at least there are no sneaky extra charges for vegetables. Dorset crab lasagne featured fresh-tasting crab and capable pasta, topped with a little salad (14/20). A salad of wood-fired autumn vegetables (featuring a disproportionate amount of beetroot), goat cheese and walnuts was pleasant, the leaves dressed properly (14/20).

Venison was nicely cooked, served on a bed of red cabbage and some cooking juices (14/20). Tarte tatin had good pastry and the apples were properly caramelised (maybe a touch more than I would have liked), but this was certainly an above-average tart tatin (15/20). Orange parfait was delicate, resting on a sablé biscuit and with a garnish of Seville orange segments (14/20). Quite what a blueberry soufflé was doing on the menu in February is a mystery only the pastry chef can answer.

Service from dinner-jacketed waiting staff was efficient during much of the meal, but then fell apart once we had finished our desserts. Despite being near a waiter station, efforts to attract attention to get coffee, and later the bill, were far from trivial; it was as if we had become invisible the moment we finished eating. Despite a trail of waiters scurrying past, all attempts to get attention failed until my dining companion, anxious to get the last train home, had to resort to physically tapping a waitress on the arm as she sailed past. This was curious given that the service had been perfectly capable earlier.

Overall Galvin La Chapelle is sure to be highly successful, with an appealing menu of capably cooked dishes in a genuinely beautiful dining room.

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User comments

  • Dionysis Sarakinos

    The food was according to the standards of 1 Michelin star restaurant. On the contrary, the service was really bad. Our table was ignored on purpose (i don't know why), we were the last table served even if we were arrived earlier from other customers. We had to seek for water and wine every time.Never again.

  • mycookinghut

    Went to this restaurant beginning of 2011, just a few days after the restaurant was awarded 1 Michelin star. The ambience is great with high ceiling. It was quite busy when we went there and it didn't take too long to get hold of the menu and decided what we wanted. After 5 minutes or or after we placed our order, we were given the menu again. Seemed that the staff didn't communicate enough to know what has done or hasn't. Anyway, it was a sommelier that took our order. A bit weird. Found there were inconsistencies of the dishes we had. We ordered the tasting menu, some were really nice but some were just plain normal. The worst experience was to have found a piece of clingfilm in the piece of terrined served to my partner! Mentioned this to the waitor and he said would communicate this. But, it was well forgotten (I guess) until I asked the waitor for explanation about the incident when I had already paid the bill! He was speechless and the situation was unpleasant. Nothing was done until we were just about to step out of the restaurant, came the restaurant manager to apologise.. etc and said sorry but you had paid your bill, there wasn't anything I could do. But, I gathered that you both love cheese, so next time when you come back, we will offer you some nice cheeses on the house. Well, would I go back for free cheeses? No! One time is enough.

  • alan fowle

    Read the reviews before coming here last Saturday- Gills was as usual funny but disparaging-for middle manager suits, service like being frisked by friendly moles etc however after the 30 min taxi ride from hampstead - what a sensational room probably the most sensational indoor setting we have eaten in the lighting and the height of the ceiling create a wonderful mood - service very smooth and "human" had the menu gourmand lasagne of crab - the crab in this too moussed tasted delicious but please more crab feel-pressed guinea fowl, tagine of bresse pigeon etc etc all very good to eat with harmonious flavours - the Condrieu went with all this didnt have the wine selection. A really outstanding experience Wish it was nearer - but worth a detour for a special night out.

  • Bellaphon

    Mr Hayler, a frank review. No tedious gushing and over praising, least I can do now is to give this place a go.