Another year, and another Christmas meal with my Italian friends. This year, I offered a choice but the group consensus was to try Galvin at Windows Restaurant and Bar. We first met at the Bar, located on the 28th floor of the Hilton Park Lane.
The bar itself was heaving from people visiting for the Christmas spirit. It’s very comfortable, and if you are happy to wait, there are quite a few places to seat with table service with minimal standing space at the bar. The drink selection, impressive and although quite pricy are very well made by their mixologists. I turned up slightly early, waited at the bar for about ten minutes and then was offered a table when everyone else arrived.
As you can see, you get a pretty good view standing.
The bar itself is also just a decadent. The lighting is dim without being dark, and a golden circle highlights the busy bar area where waiters and waitresses alight their table’s empties and collect a few more orders to drink.
Enough about the bar. As we were here to celebrate Christmas. We had a look at the a la carte menu, but finally agreed to settle on the tasting menu. It’s expensive but I think it was a good special occasion to spend it on.
Here’s Luca enjoying the atmosphere.
The bread basket arrived – a classic white plait, small baguette and some brown bread served with a creamy mound of butter. A simple selection, but well executed.
A small amuse bouche arrived, a small mouthful that was part mousse, part sweet and some other ingredients that I’ve sort of forgotten now. I do remember it being very good though. Rich, but just enough to get the palette going.
Our first dish from the tasting arrived, a scallop ceviche, kohlrabi, cucumber, ruby grapefruit and soy. We had the wine pairing, and a relatively sweet wine came alongside this one as it helped bring out the natural sweetness from the scallops. A light dish, well seasoned and tart on the palette but that really all came together.
Here’s the wine that came with this dish.
Our next course was a ballotine of foie gras, kumquat puree, spiced salt and a vanilla brioche. I’m not a huge fan of foie gras – it’s just a little bit rich for me, and the taste doesn’t really do justice to the intense farming process necessary for me. I’ll eat it, but not be one to order it. A brioche pairing works well – although I think having a slightly more toasted brioche provides a nicer texture contrast against the softer flesh.
Our fish course was a poached fillet of Cornish brill, a herb potato crust, Enoki, shellfish and dashi broth. It’s a strangely Asian inspired combination that came from this French kitchen, but one that worked really well. I particularly liked the crust – a soft potato breaking out from a toasted topping then made way for a soft, white flesh. Each bite covered with a salty, earth broth that I just wanted to drink every drop.
Here’s a photo of Marco enjoying his dish.
Our next course was going to be a meat round, so they wheeled out the fancy knifes.
Toni appreciating the weight in the cutlery.
In the end, we didn’t really need the knife since the venison was so soft. Slow cooked saddle of Scottish venison wrapped in Alsace bacon, braised shoulder beignet, red cabbage, watercress and sauce grand veneur. As you can see in the photo, our beignet ended up being more like a croquette, but one that was burstig with flavour from the softly cooked, shoulder. The venison literally melted apart, and the bacon a good addition to season the meat. This was definitely agreed upon as one of the best dishes of the night.
Of course the venison goes with a glass of red.
After the venison, they brought the menu back to ask us whether or not we wanted the cheese course.
Naturally, we said yes. It was our first Christmas meal of the season after all.
An impressive selection of cheeses accompanied with all the usual fruit, chutneys and cracker selection. Very nice.
Our first round of dessert arrives, a lemon posset, strawberry juice and Breton shortbread. This was one of the best posset’s I’ve ever eaten. Super creamy, full of citrusy notes and perfectly paired with a strawberry juice with a tart sweetness that complimented it all. The shortbread was a nice contrast to the posset as well.
The final dessert arrives, after we are getting really full. It’s a white chocolate mousse, blueberry compote and green tea ice cream. Both of the components were relatively light – green tea has a light flavour and white chocolate mousse much better than a heavier plain or dark chocolate mousse would have. A nice course to finish the tasting.
Of course we have espressos to help us digest, and they come accompanied with petite fours.
Finally, our bill arrives with an impressive jar of marshmallows. We try one.
Service impeccable, food very well executed and a great dining venue for special occasions.
Name: Galvin at Windows
Found at: London Hilton Park Lane, 22 Park Lane, London, Greater London W1K 1BE, United Kingdom