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Galvin La Chapelle, Spitalfields, London

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Galvin La Chapelle, Spitalfields, London

limster | Nov 22, 2009 03:18 PM

Good butter - dense but creamy, rounded flavour with just the barest hint of tang in the finish. Reminds me a little of the butter from Normandy I used to indulge it once upon a time. Rustic,crusty country bread.

Dorset crab, blended into a mousseline-like texture, separated by thin sheets of pasta, is described as a lasagne. There was a decent amount of flavour, but the fibres of crabmeat were sparse. Chanterelles were cooked to a straw mushroom like softness, and fairly gentle in flavour, although the usual nutty intensity of the mushroom wasn't too obvious, (perhaps muted as to not overwhelm the crab?). Lovely fronds of chervil, for just the right fragrance against the crab and the foamy sauce (slightly sweet - shallots? white wine? - with maybe a hint of shell fish - crab? - and something vaguely nutmeg-ish). And perhaps it would be silly to say that the lasagne was not el dente (never ever had it that way in a French restaurant), but I wished for more textural contrast, a firm bit would have been great against the softer crab paste. Not great, but not horrible, saved chiefly by the balanced multilayered sauce, which suggests careful technique in its conception.

Veal cheeks slough easily into moist tender strands, with one cheek seemingly breaking more easily than the other. It is topped with zingara, in this case perfectly cut thin batons of ham, black truffle, perhaps an additional type of red meat, a cut with coarsely cut parsley. The sauce is again well made -- a rich shiny cloak, stocky and rich, sliding smoothly on the meat, without any trace of excessive stickiness, probably demi-glace and/or the braising liquid. A fairly smooth mashed potato, with lemon zest somewhere, a mildly bitter acidity with a citrusy fragrance that cut the intensity of the sauce and the cheeks.

An enjoyable cheese cart. Vacherin mont d'or was a definite choice as it is in season now. fairly well conditioned, although it wouldn't hurt to ripen a touch more. Epoisse, besides its usual pungence (slightly muted here), also gave off a hazelnut like flavour, again slightly more ripening wouldn't hurt. Clean chalky flavour from a chevre. Semi-soft, creamy morbier. An interesting (Normandy?) cheese, on the softer extreme of semi-soft, coated with crumbs soaked in calvados (iirc), gave off a nice rich flavour and good woodsy complexity. And finally a hard-ish Bleu de Basque balanced fumy odors with nutty qualities.

A blueberry souffle rose beautifully, an inch or so over the rim. Intense and true berry flavour, but a very faint powdery texture, and overall more rich and dense rather than airy. Reminded me of my souffle experience at Galvin bistrot de luxe. A clean sweet milk ice cream next to it seemed light by comparison.

Hard to complain about the beautiful saucing, a good mark of a technically accomplished kitchen (or at least saucier), and on the whole it was a fairly enjoyable experience for classic technique driven French food. But there were imperfections here and there (opening blues?) that make me cherish some of my past favourites a bit more, especially at this price range.

An atmospheric space, a impressive work of stone, wood and light. There's also a bistrot-like cafe attached to the restaurant with a different kitchen.

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