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Restaurant Review: Galvin La Chapelle in Spitalfields

The first time I went to Galvin in Spitalfields I went to their Cafe de Luxe and ordered a la carte which was in effect like picking the ugly but demanding sister in the family.  It wasn’t exactly bad but it wasn’t a patch on the Bistro in Baker Street (and a touch pricey).  Review here.

The second time I went to Galvin in Spitalfields I went to Galvin La Chapelle and had the set menu.  This was a bit like going out with a twin but shortly thereafter realising that her (a la carte) sister not only had the looks but also the conversation, the personality and the charm.

Galvin La Chapelle’s setting is magnificent. La Chapelle is embedded in a Victorian hall which was built in the 1980s to be used by the Central Foundation School for Girls.  It has 19th century magnificance pouring out of its walls, its shaped brickwork and rafters.  In particular, there is one table which juts out above the dining room and seats 9-12 people (the  picture below was taken from there).  I feel that eating there would be like having haute cuisine on the prow of a boat.  One day soon I will reserve it for a suitably debauched meal with a bunch of friends.

This meal was not that. It was the set menu at lunch done at speed sans alcohol.  Now standalone it wasn’t bad.  It was even ok to good.  Unfortunately you don’t have this meal in isolation.  You have it next to people on expense accounts.  People who are richer than you.  People who are ordering a la carte and are simply having a richer more flavoursome experience than you.

This was really driven home after the meal when I read Luiz The London Foodie’s review of his celebratory meal there (here).  As is apparent his eperience was different and to put it bluntly, superior.

The three set menu dishes we had were what you would expect from a set menu: (i) prepared terrine or pate (ii) bit of roasted or grilled meat (iii) pre-prepared pudding. Now (i) and (ii) were ok (though the chicken at (ii) was surprisingly most) but (iii) was really really very good.  It was a brilliant rhubard mousse that had shades of kittens and heaven that Jay Rayner muttered on about in his review (though about the Rum Baba).

All in all a good and efficent set menu lunch but why bother?  Skip three set lunches and go for the proper thing.  That way you end up with the pretty twin with the good personality (the a la carte menu if you were following my analogy).

  • Price – £25 for three courses at lunch
  • 35 Spital Square, City of London E1 6DY

2 Comments

  1. Greedy Diva

    I had a lovely experience – on the a la carte dinner menu – at La Chapelle. But I hate feeling like I'm getting under par food just because I'm doing a set lunch/dinner menu – particularly if the good stuff is being flaunted all around you!

  2. Tom

    I will definitely be going back to that big table overlooking the whole dining room and will be going very a la carte.

    I agree with you on that horrible feeling when all you want to do is cast off the set menu shackles and enjoy everything a la carte. Oh well, it gives you a taste and if you like it you can always go back :)

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