Galvin Bistrot De Luxe, Baker Street, food review
- Credit: Archant
Can the French roast us at our own game? Bridget Galton finds one restaurant is certainly capable.
There’s a joke among the French; that dining out here would be great, if only you ate breakfast three times a day.
Apart from the fry-up – and that staple of many French desserts crème Anglais (custard to you) , the good old Sunday roast must surely rank in the admittedly short list of our great culinary inventions.
So I was intrigued to discover that oh-so French institution the bistrot – and no less than the Galvin brothers’ fine establishment Bistrot de Luxe - had the temerity to bring all that classic Gallic discipline to the humble British roast.
With its dark wood panelling, white napery and intriguing objets of old kitchen equipment, Galvin Bistrot is on the more formal side of dining, but its traditional French fare is exemplary. For our family Sunday out, my seven-year-old Patrick had sweetly insisted on wearing a smart shirt and tie, but he needn’t have bothered. The place was packed with rugby fans having a superior feed before heading off to Wembley for a World Cup match, and the customary week day atmosphere of business lunches was replaced with the jolly bustling air of a British pub.
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What elevates this from the gastropub is the special occasion feeling of being treated to elegant surroundings, a great wine list, and it turned out an excellent plate of food.
I’m not sure whether I’m delighted or rueful to report that from the welcome French addition of a pre-prandial coup de Champagne, to the sommelier’s knowlegable suggestions of single glasses to pair with my smoked salmon and horseradish cream starter, and the tender slices of beef, rich glossy gravy, goose fat roasted potatoes and just so cooked vegetables, there was little to fault.
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And if the Yorkshire pudding was perhaps less yielding than is traditionally served, that’s only because no French restaurant worth its sel would serve anything soggy.
Patrick hoovered up his salmon and an adult portion of pink-tinged lamb – foolishly rejecting a tangy mint jelly – before thoroughly enjoying a bowl of fruit sorbets.
The four-year-old made short work of her melting soft beef, pomme puree and gravy, and their dad went slightly off piste with a spot on piece of pork belly that vanished in short order.
Just as I was getting depressed that the French were trouncing us at our own game, out came the lunch’s only let down. A treacle tart that had clearly not been fashioned by anyone who had ever tasted one. With a crisp to the point of cardboard base, and a layer of treacle so thin and overdone it was like bonfire toffee, it was a travesty of one of our better English puds.
My husband fared much better with a brilliant Tarte Tatin in really the only moment of the meal that proved the adage: ‘stick to what you know’.
As we joined the stream of rugby fans heading to the tube, we felt spoiled and special and replete in the way that only very good food and service can make you.
Galvin Bistrot De Luxe, 66 Baker Street. galvinrestaurants.com 0207 79354007.