What: Galvin restaurants have a certain notoriety about them, scattered across metropoli (is that a word?) inclusive of London and decadent Dubai. This time however, it was the turn of Galvin HOP located in Spital Square, to sample their aptly timed Taste of Summer Menu, curated by Executive Head Chef Zac Whittle.
The Setting: Galvin restaurants were established by Chris and Jeff Galvin in 2005, and so there’s quite an establishment and warmth surrounding them. We got this sense especially, walking through Spital Square on a warm summer evening, the chatter from the restaurant wafting towards us in ebbs and flows as we journeyed on to Galvin HOP. I must admit, it felt like quite an obscure destination for such a prestigious restaurant group to be positioned, situated amongst busy offices and urban happenings, but, by the same token, this added to the allure.
The Look: Galvin HOP styles itself on being a modern bistrot, sitting snug next to sister Galvin La Chapelle, a Michelin star restaurant. Due to this all-consuming heat wave we find ourselves in, my partner and I were seated outside amongst the buzz of beer clutchers after busy days. It was nice to watch the world go by on their expansive outdoor area and I’ll really suggest nabbing a seat out front if you visit in the summer.
However, Galvin HOP doesn’t try to disguise itself as something it’s not and, if you’re not dining, it would be a great place for a pre-drink before moving through to La Chapelle. Following the restaurant round, there’s a host of further seating in a bright dining area with obscure artwork, and a smaller outdoor area.
On the Menu: This particular menu is intricate and delicately put together, to couple flavours that are light as well as reminiscent of cool summer days. The £25 Taste of Summer menu therefore consists of a set of four plates of chilled cucumber soup to start, followed by heritage tomatoes with Buffalo mozzarella and salsa verde, a main of lamb steak on the bone with peas, goat’s curd and Jersey royals, and a dessert of gariguette strawberries with buttermilk panna cotta and pistachios. The menu also included a drink.
What We Ate: So, I must admit, the starter is never something I’d typically opt for on a menu, my partner too. Needless to say, we reluctantly dipped our soup spoons into the neon green mix, presented in a colourful little tea cup. However, how I was proved wrong and if a dish could affirm not to judge a book my its cover (or a dish by its label) then it was this one. The cucumber soup was marinated for 24 hours in dill and Greek yoghurt and served with trout tartare. It was light, flavoursome and so refreshing, a perfect palette whet for what was to come.
The following dish consisting of heritage tomatoes and Buffalo mozzarella was certainly summery and light, however it was quite an un-complex dish that didn’t really offer anything out of the ordinary. The main – the lamb – had a delicious pea puree, coupled with a saltiness to the jersey royals. The lamb itself was very seasonally apt, it was soft to the touch of the knife and juicy, and the fresh peas complimented it well.
We both noticed how dessert ready we were after the preceding three dishes, a rarity, as typically I’m left ready to be rolled to the nearest underground. So, it was great to finally be able to delve into dessert and indulge in the flavours, and the fact that we weren’t full up felt like a true reflection of the airiness of this summer offering. The panna cotta was flavoursome and the potential of it being too sweet was offset by the pistachios.
What We Drank: There seems to be a bit of a growing buzz as of late around wine on tap. I can’t say I’m a fan. Galvin HOP offer this and I felt the white wine we had had a fizziness to it that didn’t belong. However, there are a selection of red and whites by the bottle, alongside an impressive selection of drinks including copper tanks filled with Pilsner Urquell, delivered fresh weekly from The Czech Republic, and craft beers and boutique wines.
Go With: Galvin HOP is that perfect post-work drinks bistrot. For this reason, I’d suggest going along with a group after work or to meet up for wine and small plates with a friend. Executive Chef Zac informed us he wanted the dishes to compliment these post work style drinks, as a go-to menu easy to peruse and partake in. An effortless choice.
Where: Located in Spitalfields Market, Bishops Sq, 35 Spital Square, E1 6DY, www.galvinrestaurants.com