Tuesday, 24 March 2015

GALVIN AT WINDOWS

I had heard good things about the Galvin restaurants, so I had especially made a booking at Michelin-starred Galvin at Windows for my joint birthday dinner with my best friend, WK. I had also been to Galvin Bistro de Luxe a while back, and I remembered that I did enjoy my meal there.
This was however was not quite the experience that I was expecting, so here is just a short recollection of my much disappointing birthday meal...

After a slight confusion with the elevator system (my brain was clearly not thinking straight after rushing from the station in heels...), we made it up to the 28th floor. It was  shame that our table was not by the windows, but I didn't mind too much, I have seen better views and I was mainly looking forward to the food.

I ordered The Dolphin 'Delphinus' cocktail, made with Passoa liqueur, Campari, strawberries, guava juice, and top up with Champagne, whilst WK had a glass of champagne.
We also had a look at the wine list, and after asking for some advice, the waitress told us that the young sommelier who was attending to another table would come by shortly. Instead another waiter came by after a while (we were not sure if he was another sommelier...), and without discussing any options, seemed a bit overbearing and insisted that the £85 bottle of Reisling would go perfectly with our meal. I don't know much about wine, but I thought that maybe he would know better than I, so I naively nodded in agreement...
I found it a bit strange when the first waitress removed out wine glasses from the table. We then informed another waitress passing by that we had ordered wine, and they were then replaced on our table. And then the same thing happened again when another waitress hurriedly took away our glasses...
The young sommelier eventually arrived with the wine, clearly very apologetic as he replaced our glasses, and let us taste the wine, before filling up our glasses.


We were served the usual complimentary bread and butter, followed by a couple of amuse-bouches - a creamy soup with a piece of brioche on the side, and some foie gras sandwiched between chocolate biscuits. Not quite the the most creative amuse-bouches compared to others that I have had, just pretty decent.
 



We both went for the Menu D├ęgustation which consisted of a 7 course tasting menu of dishes chosen by Head Chef Joo Won.
 Our first dish was the seared Scottish scallops, that I quite enjoyed with the white onion puree and the creamy shellfish bisque. Next was the ballotine of foie gras which was quite rich and buttery, but quite plain looking.

Seared Scottish scallops, white onion puree, sea vegetables & shellfish bisque

Ballotine of foie gras, marinated prune, orange puree & pain d'epice


 The sea bass had a nice flaky texture, but I did not like the potato crust that much - it wasn't crispy and had a bit of an unpleasant grainy texture.
WK had specifically requested for his dish of Iberico pork to be cooked well done - don't judge him, he does have his personal reasons...
Both our dishes come our medium rare, and we then informed the waitress. She then hurried off to check with someone else, but when she came back, instead of apologizing and offering to bring it back to the kitchen, she asked if he was 'Okay' with it. Now I'm pretty sure that WK had made his intentions clear, so after insisting that it was 'Not Okay', they took his dish back, and offered to keep mine warm in the oven whilst we waited.
The meat was quite nice and I liked the crispy pig's head, but I must say that the portion was rather small, even for a meat dish on a tasting menu.

Pan-fried fillet of line caught sea bass, potato crust

Roasted Iberico pork, carrot & cumin puree, crispy pig's head & jus diablo

Everything seemed to pass by way to quickly, without much satisfaction, and soon it was time for dessert. Our first dessert was a rhubarb compote with chocolate mousse and orange foam. As many of you know, desserts are usually the main thing that excites me, but this unfortunately did not. 
I was further disappointed by the second dessert, which was basically a parfait with meringue bits stuck to it, topped with ice cream with some caramelized bananas around it.
It can't just be me that finds this a bit boring, does it? Strangely, the first thing that crossed my mind was...stegosaurus.
I mean, where's the creativity and excitement?
There were no petit fours, but instead a jar of...marshmallows. Enough said.

Rhubarb compote, chocolate mousse & orange foam

Nougat parfait, caramelised banana, Muscovado meringues & black pepper ice cream

Tasting menus generally tend to cost quite a bit, but at £99 for 7 courses where the majority of it was pretty average, I can think of many more places where I could have gotten better value for my money. And a better experience overall.
Some other aspects that I found quite unprofessional was that our dishes were served whilst one of us were away from the table e.g. when we excused ourselves to the washroom. This happened on two occasions, as we obviously did not go at once. I would have thought that they could have waited for both parties to be seated before serving...
The neighbouring table which was quite a big group were clearly big spenders considering the bottles of wine they had ordered, so I'm sure that the staff wanted to keep them happy. But one of these inconsiderate diners had pushed his chair all the way back, blocking the already narrow path. Instead of politely asking him to move aside a little, the waiters and waitresses that tried to scoot around him instead knocked into the back of my chair about four times without even apologizing...
I was too disappointed to request for a birthday candle, so instead I went to my favourite, Picture, to get my dessert and birthday candle fix. Thank you so much Soria.

Despite this incident, I am still interested to try out Galvin La Chapelle, which is supposed to be beautiful...with hopefully better food and service.
Well, I guess that pretty much sums out my experience at Galvin at Windows. Personally I'm not sure if I would go back again, as I feel that it caters more for hotel guests, tourists...and maybe more for business lunches/dinners. 
Maybe the lunch or three course menu may have been better? I wouldn't know...
Maybe I should have stuck to a place that we were familiar with, like Ametsa, a tasting menu that we both really enjoyed previously.
The good news however, was that I had an excellent belated birthday meal the next weekend at Alyn Williams at The Westbury! French cuisine as well, coincidentally, but so much better. Click here for the link.

The Cheekster, signing out x


Galvin at Windows on Urbanspoon

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