Galvin La Chapelle is a restaurant that we will always have very fond memories of in our dining recollections. We went there on two separate occasions and thoroughly enjoyed it for two very different reasons.
Situated in Spitalfields, East London, the one-Michelin-star restaurant is housed in a beautiful building that was once a chapel (Chapelle is Chapel in French) built in the late 1800s. The restaurant has a nondescript entrance tucked away from the hustle and bustle of Spitalfields, belying the lovely dining venue that exists beyond it. First-time diners would easily miss it. The restaurant’s interior is a classy venue with a calm ambience, which harks back to the building’s past life as a chapel.
The restaurant serves modern French cuisine.
Our first visit to Galvin La Chapelle took place in August 2012, after discovering from the Michelin Guide that it was just a a few metres away from the student hostel I was staying in. We had a good dinner there, ordering a starter and main each off the a la carte menu.
Our starters for that evening were a lasagne of Dorset crab with sweetcorn and lemongrass velouté and a pressed guinea fowl with ham hock and foie gras, and red onion marmalade. Both were perfectly done and instantly perked us up after a day of travelling. We had spent a day in Bath prior to dinner.
For mains, we had the crisp pavé of sea trout with fricassée of macaroni, and brown shrimps and samphire and our biggest highlight of the evening, the fillet of Scotch beef with caramelised shallot purée, and watercress and pommes Anna. The sea trout was deliciously executed, but the scotch beef was simply outstanding. To this day, the scotch beef main served that evening remains one of most perfectly executed, appetisingly presented, and gorgeously tasting beef dish we have ever had.
One surprise was served that evening in the form of a pre-dessert consisting of macarons and chocolate truffles. We consciously chose to skip dessert that evening.
Following the high of this first visit, we returned to Galvin La Chapelle on our trip back to London in January 2015. We brought our honeymooning friends with us for lunch this time round.
Food-wise, we ordered off the Menu du Chef, which was a three-course set. Unfortunately, while the food on this visit was decent, it was not outstanding like before. Perhaps this was due to our ordering off the lunch menu instead of the a la carte one, which would usually yield better food. There were also no surprises served.
While we cannot fully recall every dish that we had that afternoon, we truly enjoyed that dining experience for the company that we had the privilege to share the meal with. Our friends were on their final day of their honeymoon in London, while we had barely just arrived in London the previous day on the back of our crazy adventures in Italy and Ireland (I lost my passport in Naples and almost could not make it to London for this meal). There is always something special about spending time with friends at a nice restaurant in a foreign land.
Anyway, despite the average experience that we had on our second visit to Galvin La Chapelle, we have not given up on this restaurant yet. We will be happy to return to it in hopes of re-living our first experience there, especially the scotch beef dish.
Fillet of Scotch beef, caramelised shallot purée, watercress and pommes Anna (Main, first visit)
35 Spital Square,
London, E1 6DY
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Our first visit