Last week was a Big Eating Week. I mean, it wasn’t like I didn’t eat very much in California, but I landed back to three nights of home cooked meals (I know, he missed me) followed by that dreamy meal at Roka on Wednesday night.
And then my gorgeous friend Christine went and had a birthday and because all celebrations demand that we eat, last Thursday night saw us girls gather at Galvin Bistrot de Luxe on Baker Street for a birthday date night, which is always just that tiny little bit more special than yee olde regular date night.
Galvin Bistrot de Luxe is but one member of the Galvin group of restaurants, an enterprise launched by Galvin brothers, Chris and Jeff. Spanning the restaurant vertical’s breadth of wallet sizes, the Galvin group offers the affordable Bistrot de Luxe right through to Galvin at Windows, which has just earned a Michelin Star in 2010.
Well, clearly we went the way of the paupers because not only did we dine at Bistrot de Luxe, we flexed our GFC muscles and went for the £17.50 set dinner, a three course (dual option) menu which although thrifty, I’d heard was very very good.
It was a tiny bit hectic putting our order in by the compulsory 7pm (because dear lord, after 7pm we had to go a la carte) with each of the six of us dashing in from random ends of town, but somehow we managed. Orders in, the gossiping began.
Weddings, babies, fashion, travel, work and ooh la la the Galapagos Islands were amongst the hot topics of conversation. The Galapagos Islands being the only non-food thing that has ever made me drool.
Dammit. If I ever want to go there, more paupers dinners from now on.
Anyway, starter choices were between a velouté of Brittany cauliflower (aka cauliflower soup) and a (and I don’t know if my very ordinarily English keyboard can handle this word) œuf sur le plat à la Basquaise (aka baked eggs).
Good job, keyboard.
The baked eggs were very tasty – not quite so Lantana breakfast-style, a little more exotic with caramelised onions and sweet peppers. And the soup was a rich, creamy concoction of well, cauliflowers (just callin’ it like I see it), and though Christine thought it was a bit salty, I thought it was pretty good.
Main options were poached chicken, turnip choucroute & juniper beurre blanc or roast pollock, tomato fondue, clams & mussels (no funny little French letters for my key board to deal with).
Most of us chose to have the pollock because we thought the chicken would be all breast and y’know, breast meat, yuck. But actually the chicken turned out to be surprisingly tender and the butter sauce was just sinful. Sinful.
The pollock was also a good option, thick, meaty, soft but with a crispy skin. The tomato fondue with clams and mussels was a perfect sauce and it has been a while since I’ve ordered anything with mussels in a restaurant. I mean, love them and all that, but they almost killed me one time ~ and that’s for a-whole-nother story.
Onto dessert and our options were buttermilk panna cotta with poached rhubarb or brie de Meaux with walnut & raisin loaf.
We didn’t tell any of the staff that it was Christine’s birthday, but oh I don’t know, maybe it was because we were all throwing presents at her and gushing Haaaappy Birthdaaaay all night, I. Don’t. Know. but her panna cotta came out with a little birthday message which we all thought was just a sweet little touch.
The panna cotta was, in my humble opinion, very effing delicious. The right amount of gelatinous wobble married with thick creamy custard/cream/ buttermilk-whatever. I’m not a pro but I loved the panna cotta, and paired with the tartness of the rhubarb? Divine.
The cheese was cheese, I didn’t actually taste any, but the cheese person – my friend Loreen – sat and smiled and munched on her cheese and bread very happily.
We finished off the meal with pots of tea, served in uniquely painted little tea cups. Totally cute.
So all in all I thought it was a good meal. Wow factor? Hmmm, even for a bistro, it doesn’t really compare to the likes of Eastside Inn Bistro, but then again, it was also less than half the price.
You get what you pay for and here, you get good, simple unpretentious food. Can’t really complain for under £20 a head.
ps. Heading to Galvin’s mid-tier restaurant La Chapelle in a couple of weeks, looking forward to that!
Galvin Bistrot de Luxe
66 Baker Street
London, W1U 7DJ
0207 935 4007