Restaurant review: Galvin La Chapelle, Spital Square, Spitalfields

PUBLISHED: 10:00 19 December 2009 | UPDATED: 15:23 05 October 2010



by Victoria Huntley WHILE quite beautiful in itself, the red brick exterior of the Galvin brothers new project Galvin La Chapelle belies its breathtaking inside. Greeted

by Victoria Huntley

WHILE quite beautiful in itself, the red brick exterior of the Galvin brothers' new project Galvin La Chapelle belies its breathtaking inside.

Greeted by a smart, bowler hatted doorman, we trudged inside, out of the freezing December rain and biting cold before being led to our table, and it was all we could do to stop ourselves standing agog, mouths open, at the cathedralesque dining room.

Destination restaurants are Chris and Jeff Galvin's speciality, with success at Galvin at Windows at the Park Lane Hilton and the acclaimed Bistrot de Luxe in Baker Street before their foray into the East End.

Well spaced tables, immaculate tablecloths and brown leather button-backed chairs give the restaurant in the 19th century St Botolph's Hall in Spital Square an opulent feel and the friendly staff turned out in formal uniforms are attentive and knowledgeable.

The former church schoolhouse's neo-Classical columns and high vaulted ceilings could easily cause diners to pay more attention to their surroundings than the food itself - if it wasn't so good.

Salad of red leg partridge with pomegranate and maple dressing was dainty, sticky, and just the right amount of sweet while the terrine of foie gras and fig with quince purée and brioche was pretty standard restaurant fare although well executed.

Loin of venison encrusted with peppercorns on braised red cabbage was meltingly soft and rare and not at all strong or gamey, but the stand out dish of the night was tagine of squab pigeon and harissa sauce.

Served in a Moroccan cooking pot, the deconstructed dish featured all the elements of a traditional tagine but executed to exactingly high standards with tender breasts of pigeon which were sweet and flavoursome and a little jug of fiery harissa so you can add just the right amount of kick.

Instead of dessert we chose from the well selected trolley of French cheeses, including a Camembert washed in calvados, a gooey, ripe Epoisses and a deliciously aged and nutty Comté, which our waitress, who was from the region of France where the cheese is made, explained is only available in London in one shop in Marylebone.

The wine list is a serious business with some bottles at astronomical prices - presumably to be paid for on the expense accounts of the city bankers who were out in force on our visit - but with other more reasonable bottles and a good variety available by the glass.

La Chapelle is a family affair, with the brothers busy in the kitchen - dividing their time between La Chapelle and their other projects - and diners are likely to be welcomed by Chris's wife Sara before being seated.

The restaurant is pricey but worth it for a very special occasion and anyone who wants a taste of Galvin without the expense can always try the next door Café de Luxe.


Food: ****

Service: *****

Atmosphere: *****

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