Two Michelin-star restaurants could change how people think about East End food

The old stereotypes of the East End as the home of jellied eels and takeaway curries are set to change thanks to two Michelin-star winning restaurants.

Galvin La Chapelle in Spitalfields and Viajante in Bethnal Green were two of eight restaurants in London awarded their first Michelin stars last month, despite the former opening in November 2009 and the latter just last March.

The reactions of the two master-chefs behind both establishments – Jeff Galvin, 41 and Nuno Mendes, 37 – were also remarkably similar.

Jeff, who is joined at the restaurant by his sister-in-law Sara, 46, who runs the front-of-house, said: “I don’t want to play it down but we didn’t set out with that mission.”

Nuno, previously a partner in the Bacchus restaurant in Hoxton Street, said: “It is gratifying but it won’t change what we do.”

For him, an equal treat has been opening in his adopted East End.

He said: “I’ve always wanted to have a restaurant here since I moved to London six years ago.

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“If I’m going to invest money I want to do it here.”

From his native Portugal to his home in Hackney, via training in California and living in New York, it’s no surprise that viajante – his nickname – means traveller.

He offers a slight warning about a gastronomic reinvention of east London though.

He said: “I guess it could be a sign that the City is moving in.

“The neighbourhood is changing but by bringing this restaurant, I’m not trying to bring the West End here.”

His taster menus reflect his world travels and there is similarly mouth-watering food on offer at La Chapelle, from pot roast Berkshire pheasant to grilled fillets of red mullet.

Jeff and Sara feel equally protective of east London, especially as the restaurant is set in the Grade-II listed St Botolph’s Hall, formerly part of the Central Foundation Girls School.

Jeff said: “I wish I’d come here sooner.

“For many years you’d have to travel to the West End to eat, but that’s not the case now.”

Michelin-starred cuisine looks like its here to stay.

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