Galvin La Chapelle
35 Spital Square, E1
The best French restaurant in London, according to the Bookatable Awards 2017, and we’re inclined to agree. Eschew les escargots, pass on the pate, this place serves up playful French fusion food, and a host of fine wines from its own vineyards in France.
A bright light of refinery among the Giraffes and Wagamamas of Spitalfields. The building itself is a cavernous, high-vaulted building with a fascinating history as, invariably, an all-girls school and even a Jewish/Catholic canteen during the war. It may not boast the views of Galvin at Windows or the modern glamour of Galvin at The Athenaeum, but there’s an understated rustic charm about La Chapelle that fits right into its ancient surroundings.
Jeff and Chris Galvin, aka the Galvin Brothers, an unstoppable duo often credited with giving bistro cuisine a much-needed kick up the derriere, despite hailing from Essex. La Chapelle is their third restaurant, opening in 2009 and earning a Michelin-star in 2011. Now, they’ve got an empire, ranging from country pubs in Chelmsford to a flashy Dubai outpost.
A few dishes have gained cult status, not least the Dorset crab lasagne. And what a delicate little things it is, fishy discs of mousse separated by the thinnest of pasta layers. The Sancerre ‘tradition’ from the Loire valley is a must alongside, its sharpness essential to cut through the cream. Much better is the charred octopus given a satisfying salty smack by a stack of capers and raw seaweed. Businessmen nearby went in hard on the Cumbrian beef and bone marrow, a robustly rich dish for serious lunchers, while my pigeon tagine, spiked with harissa, evoked all the warming flavours of Morocco without all the sloppy, saucy mess and stewed fruit.
ROOM FOR DESSERT?
Desserts are largely classics – a pannacotta here, an apple tarte tatin there – but if you can hang on for 15 minutes, the strawberry souffle with basil ice cream is light, summery and bang on-trend for 2017.
NEED TO BOOK?
Call 020 72990400 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Long, boozy lunches are encouraged and The Gallery on the mezzanine level (up to 16 guests) and outdoor terrace Le Jardin (up to 70 guests) can be hired out for private dining.
Refreshingly unstuffy, this is modern French cuisine in a classically English setting. Nowhere else in Spitalfields can touch it for fine dining.
ONE MORE THING...
Pop next door to Galvin Hop, a gastropub with outdoor seating, fresh Czech beer on draught and a truffle mustard sausage roll that’s the stuff of feverish meat dreams.