Peter Morrell and his wife enjoy the ultimate culinary experience on the 28th floor of the Hilton Hotel in London
Michelin starred Galvin at Windows has maintained its place on the must-visit list of dedicated foodies for more than a decade. News of a brand new cocktail list and a program of special menus highlighting a different region of France every month were the only temptations I need to pay a visit.
Located on the 28th Floor of the London Hilton Hotel, Galvin at Windows is unashamedly glamorous with stylish 1930’s décor. We started our evening in the bar where a brand new cocktail menu has recently been created by Head barman, Tiago. The cocktails, inspired by Tiago’s world-wide travels, are presented in a novel ‘Passport’ with each page representing a country and stamps illustrating the ingredients. My wife’s Cuban cocktail was based on Havana Club rum with tropical fruits and Cherry Heering and, as a gin lover, I chose the UK option made with The London No. 1 blue dry gin and Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur with a dash of Luc Belaire sparkling.
As we sipped our drinks we were already identifying landmarks in south London through the panoramic windows. After moving in to the main restaurant our view changed northward with the Wembley Arch clearly visible.
Under the watchful eye of the French General Manager, Fred Sirieix (of Channel 4’s First Dates fame) the service was impeccable. As we looked at the menu we enjoyed a refreshing Amuse Bouche, a medley of melons and watercress. Each month a special menu is created showcasing the food from a French region, in September it was the turn of the north with Flavours of Normandy. This is served at lunchtime with a choice of three starters, three mains and three desserts for a fixed price of £32 for two courses and £37 for three. There are also options to add wine, water and coffee to the package. This is remarkable value for money for food, service and surroundings of this quality.
Plump green olives and home made bread arrived, one flavoured with onion was very moreish and even the butter was recognisably superior.
To start we were both tempted by the salad of beetroot, fig, almond granola and Calvados jelly but the pork cheek ‘pot au feu’ with braised vegetables won my wife over and I chose the lightly pickled mackerel. My wife’s meat was meltingly tender and served with a well judged broth. My mackerel was a rainbow of flavours, the fish was lightly pickled and served with seaweed, cucumber ribbons and a cider vinaigrette.
On the advice of the sommelier we paired this first course with a quality Sancerre and it was a good representative of the region, light and elegant with good fruit aromas and herbal hints, the finish was bright and refreshing.
The vegetarian option for the main course was potato gnocchi with sweetcorn, baby leeks and Camembert but we continued with our meat and fish theme. My wife chose the corn fed chicken and I had the pan-fried sea bream. These were two very well executed dishes, the chicken was moist and tender and served with sautéed mushrooms and caramelised apple which gave it extra dimensions. My fillet of fish was superb, delicate and perfumed it was served with mussels and prawns, French green beans and a cider velouté.
My wife paired her chicken with another aromatic wine, the pinot grigio from Italy which showed citrus and grassy notes, while I drank a Chilean cabernet sauvignon, the Leyda reserve from the Maipo Valley, it was light and spicy with cherry aromas and well balanced tannins.
We did slip in a flight of four cheeses before the pudding, starting with a mild sheep’s cheese and a finishing with a beautifully flavoured roquefort with two cow’s cheeses in between. The sunflower seed covered crispbread served with the cheese also needs a special mention. We paired this course with a glass of Warre’s 10 year old Otima tawny port, it was luscious with tones of nuts, spices and honey, a unique drink.
For the pudding my wife’s spiced rice pudding with salted fudge and pineapple sorbet was a great combination and my toffee apple terrine with caramel cream and Calvados ice cream a decadent delight. Our final wine match with dessert was the Hungarian Tokaji five puttonyos, the more puttonyos the sweeter the wine. Although this is a dessert wine it had a good amount of acidity which stopped it or the pudding from cloying.
As we drank coffee and nibbled on chocolates and truffles I reflected on what a special culinary experience the meal had been. Head chef Joo Wan is from Korea and there are very subtle eastern twists in the flavouring of the food which brought out the best of French regional cuisine.
Although many people go to Galvin at Windows to celebrate, the meal is an occasion in itself. A combination of the glamorous décor, excellent food and a service team at the top of their game makes this a must visit. This very affordable pleasure is an ongoing program of menus that spotlights a different region of France each month. You can take a look at the Galvin at Windows website for the latest details and see the full range of set menus on offer.
Galvin at Windows
22 Park Lane
London W1K 1BE
+44 (0)20 7208 4021