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Galvin at Windows
London Hilton
22 Park Lane, London,
United Kingdom W1K 1BE
Tel: 020 7208 4021

Food type: French

Food rating: 5/10

Nearest tube: Hyde Park Corner or Green Park

Website: Galvin at Windows

Note: This meal was back when Andre Garrett was cooking at Galvins. Andre is now at Cliveden House and in his place is Joo Won.

With J having gone back home for her holidays, it was a good chance for me to catch up with some old friends. I met up with P, whom I have known since high school, for dinner. It has been indeed been a long time since we caught up – the last time I met up with him was exactly a year ago around this time. I scoured Toptable for a good bargain and found that Galvin at Windows (not to be confused with their Bistro outlet Galvin Bistrot de Luxe) was convieniently running a 50% promotion off the a la carte menu. The head chef here – André Garrett – was formerly the head chef at Orrery where he held a Michelin star. (As a side note, Orrery subsequently lost its Michelin star after chef Garett moved on)

Galvin at Windows is located on the 28th floor of the Hilton hotel, Park Lane – such heights provides a lovely view of London, especially given that it is summer right now. The restaurant is designed to maximize this. To that end, tables are arranged around the windows with a raised centre platform. Of course, having a raised centre platform comes with its logistical problems. I watched with amusement as the staff had to carry the cheese trolley up and down the platform. Some common sense by the design team would have been useful – surely a small ramp instead of the 2 steps would have done a world of wonder. The crowd here is certainly a young one. No doubt there were several Toptable bargain hunters like me, but most of the diners were couples on a date. The restaurant was packed by 8.30pm, even for a Monday evening.

Pea and Mint Mousse

Amuse Bouche was a spoonful of Pea and Mint mousse, garnished with a few whole peas. This was very light and airy with the mint complementing the freshness of the pea without overpowering it (6/10). There were a variety of bread – White Baguette, Multigrain, Tomato Bread and Ciabatta. The bread while warm was very disappointing – it was rather chewy, without much crunch to the crust (3/10).

Salad of Lobster, Gem Lettuce and Mango

My starter was a Salad of Lobster, Gem Lettuce and Mango. The Lobster was correctly cooked – moist, tender and sweet – much better than the piece of leather served at Pied-a-Terre. The lobster was served with a quenelle of herbed cream cheese which helped give the dish a much needed richness. The problem I had with this dish was that there was a lack of vinegrette (of sufficient oomph) to cut through everything and give the dish another dimension. I presume that this would have been provided by the mangoes but they were ripe and sweet. (5/10)

Cured Loch Duart Salmon, Dorset Crab, Lemon & Caviar

P had the Cured Loch Duart Salmon, Dorset Crab, Lemon & Caviar which also came with a palate cleansing Tomato Consomme. I was very tempted by this dish, but unfortunately due to my allergy to crab (I’m fine with soft shell crab though…) I did not risk sampling it.

Braised Veal Sweetbread, Pomme Pureé, Morels & Braising Juices

My mains was a Braised Veal Sweetbread, Pomme Pureé, Morels & Braising Juices. The sweetbreads was very tasty – the braising process adding a lot of flavour to the sweetbreads. The braising juices were indeed sumptous and I mopped up every last bit of it with my bread. The mashed potatoes… sorry… ‘Pomme Pureé’ was ok – definitely not as smooth (or clot-inducing) as the one I had at Pearl. The sweetbreads was served with a mixture of summer vegetables including broad beans, peas, carrots and courgettes. The courgettes in particular had absorbed a lot of the braising juices and had quite an intense flavour. I had a few minor nitpicks with this dish. The sweetbread could have been cut into several pieces to ensure a more symmetrical cooking throughout – some parts were more cooked than others. This would also have made the dish look prettier instead of a huge lump of the sweetbread. Overall, this dish was enjoyable but not as good as the sweetbreads I had at Foliage. (4/10)

Cornish Lamb Cutlet, Ricotta Stuffed Piquillo, Pannis & Braised Shank Bouillon

P’s mains was a Cornish Lamb Cutlet, Ricotta Stuffed Piquillo, Pannis & Braised Shank Bouillon. This dish came in two parts – first the lamb cutlet along with the piquillo and pannis (sauce poured at table side) and subsequently the lamb shank bouillon. It is unfair for me to comment on this dish as P requested his lamb to be cooked medium well. From my small bite, the lamb was still tender although a tad dry for my liking. The lamb shank bouillon was subtle but still packed full of flavour.

Hot Chocolate Fondant, Szechuan Pepper Ice Cream & Almond Milkshake

Both of us went for the Hot Chocolate Fondant, Szechuan Pepper Ice Cream & Almond Milkshake. The chocolate fondant was pleasant but unspectacular – the Szechuan pepper ice cream was uninteresting and lacked any real peppery bite to it. The almond milkshake was light, with the right amount of almond infused into the milk. It provided a good conclusion to such a rich dessert. (4/10)

Petit Fours

Although we didn’t go for any tea or coffee, the staff were still happy to present us with some petit fours which included Madeleines, Chocolate with Szechuan pepper, Raspberry Jelly, Dark Chocolate along with some Marshmallows. Keeping the artistry of the dark chocolate aside (it had lovely flowers ‘painted’ on it) the chocolates were pleasant with the pepper coming through this time around. The madeleines were rather good – light and fluffy – as were the marshmallows. A solid 5/10 all round for the petit fours and other extras.

The dinner at Galvin at Windows was good but unspectacular and an overall score of 5/10 is about right. While the cooking here is solid, Galvin’s falls into the trap of repeating ideas and ingredients (e.g. Szechuan pepper ice-cream and Szechuan Pepper Chocolate). More thought could have been put into varying the textures of the food on the plate. Service was pleasant and attentive – there was a slight delay between starters and the mains but  the manager was alert to that fact and was quick to apologize. They also kept us well supplied with bread. Ultimately, with 3 courses at £58 (which was at least softened by the Toptable offer) and given the level of food on display, it is not a place I will be queueing to come back to any time soon (especially if there were no offers available). At least the view here was spectacular.

Well this concludes my mini gastronomic tour of London – I will be heading back to Malaysia for my summer holiday on Thursday.

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