It’s July – major celebration month in our household. First there’s Blai’s birthday and then there’s my birthday and then at the end of the month, our wedding anniversary. As you can imagine, this makes July a very busy and expensive month! First up was a dinner to celebrate Blai’s birthday at Galvin Bistrot de Luxe; the restaurant was chosen when he requested a French meal. We’d never been to any of the Galvin restaurants and I thought we’d use this occasion to try it. Located on Baker Street, the restaurant looks tiny from the outside but inside is a much larger, very classic and warm French bistro than is expected.
Blai chose the bistro’s famous Lasagne of Dorset Crab, Beurre Nantais for his starter. The little cylindrical lasagne sat in a large pool of the most exquisite beurre blanc (I’ve just learned that beurre Nantais is when cream is added) which we wiped up with the warm bread provided. The silky sheets of pasta held together a rich mousse packed with crab; this dish gave me serious starter envy!
I started with the Imam Bayaldi, Greek Yoghurt and Coriander Cress. What arrived was another little tower of food: aubergine, tomato, onion all cooked together to a chunky yet lush mixture and served cold. I thought the aubergine could have been a bit silkier but overall, it was a dish that was well put together and well presented, if a little light.
Because he just can’t have enough pasta, Blai chose the Open Ravioli of Braised Pig’s Head, Celeriac Remoulade for his main course. While the bits of pig’s head were lovely and tender, there was a strong vinegary flavour incorporated with them. While not unpleasant, it was still a very strange taste to encounter when one’s expecting a rich braise. The creamy celeriac remoulade was hiding underneath the ravioli and again, while not terrible, we felt it didn’t work well with the ravioli on top.
I had the Roast Wood Pigeon, Macaroni, Pancetta and Broad Beans. The pigeon breasts had been grilled till rare and were served on top of a mixture of fresh macaroni, pancetta, broad beans (whole and pureed) and tender pieces of the pigeon leg and thigh. This was a more successful mixture with the richness of the game and the pancetta working well with the greenness of the broad beans. The sauce drizzled around the perimeter was extremely dark. iron-rich and I wonder if it was made of blood.
My Apple Tarte Tatin, Creme Fraiche came out looking like half a wagon wheel on a plate. This was the biggest single portion of tarte tatin I’ve ever encountered! The size may not be so apparent in the photo but trust me, it was at least 7 or 8 inches in diameter. And it was utterly gorgeous too, with the puff pastry half crispy and half chewy with caramel.
Blai’s Valrhona Chocolate Delice, Milk Ice Cream came out with birthday greetings which was a very nice and welcome surprise. I don’t remember much of the little I tasted but judging by the way Blai wiped his plate soon after it was placed in front of him, I’d say it was excellent! Actually, I do remember that it was lighter than it appeared, which is quite refreshing.
Service was wonderfully jovial and, I thought, really made this birthday dinner. The food overall wasn’t bad – the starters and desserts were excellent but I thought the mains, while not excellent, were good. Perhaps we didn’t order very well. Still, we loved the restaurant enough that we’d love to return again – I hear their prix fixe menu is excellent value. For those who are interested, our bill (food + water + a lemonade) came to a total of £69.70.
Galvin Bistrot de Luxe
66 Baker Street
London W1U 7DJ