T&C tests: Galvin La Chapelle

Polished French cuisine in a Grade II-listed building

A stone’s throw from the hubbub of Spitalfields Market and tucked between the City skyscrapers is Galvin La Chapelle, the third restaurant to be launched by the chef brothers Chris and Jeff Galvin. Since opening in 2009 and gaining a Michelin star in 2011, which it has retained, the venue has become synonymous with sumptuous French cuisine. The setting is magnificent: housed in a Grade II-listed Victorian building with soaring arches and majestic marble columns, the restaurant is situated on the former site of the chapel of St Botolph’s Hall School for Girls. The majority of the original architecture remains, updated by the addition of modern art and colourful lighting.

The chef-patron Jeff Galvin and the head chef Saffet Bayram have created a menu of contemporary French cuisine, with foie gras, Chateaubriand and tarte Tatin all taking pride of place, alongside an extensive wine list. On the rainy October evening when we visited, we were greeted with glasses of champagne and taken to a cosy table with plush armchairs nestled beneath the 30-metre-high vaulted ceiling. The service here is impeccable, with the charming and attentive staff ensuring our glasses were never empty.

We started with Dorset crab lasagne (a smooth, melt-in-the-mouth, mousse-like pasta) and a creamy Jerusalem artichoke velouté, accompanied by an enormous mushroom brioche with truffle butter. Both dishes were deliciously flavoursome, if extremely filling.

For the main course, we ordered the grilled red mullet with saffron-braised cuttlefish and lemon purée, and the Chateaubriand of Cumbrian beef with mushrooms, cavolo nero and celeriac fondant. The mullet was perfectly cooked and the tangy lemon was a refreshing palate cleanser, while the beef was rich and tender. For pudding, we chose an unusual but tasty passionfruit and chocolate ganache with banana ice-cream and sesame tuile, accompanied by a glass of dessert wine. To finish off, the impressive cheese trolley was wheeled out, featuring the finest French fromages alongside chutneys, grapes and various biscuits.

Galvin La Chapelle is a celebration of indulgent, wholesome food: a place where you can truly surrender to decadence while devouring plate after plate of gloriously buttery goodness. Disclaimer: this is not for the those on a budget, nor is it for clothes with unforgiving waistbands, but it does offer an unmissable masterclass in traditional French cooking.

Galvin La Chapelle, 35 Spital Square, London E1

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