City of London,Westminster,
04/06/2020: Another Great Chef’s Tasting MenuOver many years of traveling to London, usually on business, we have enjoyed dining at Galvin @ Windows, atop the Hilton Park Lane, in Mayfair. We have even come in a day, or so early, just to dine there, and often on the first night of our visit. In September, it was the third night, but then this was not our usual business trip.We arrived for our reservation, and were seated at a nice table, at which we have dined several times - along the windows, facing south. Now, Galvin the restaurant is in a rectangular area, that runs from east (at the hub of the building, and elevators), to the west. There are windows on the south, west and north side. This dining room is on two levels, with a lower level on all three sides, along the glass, then a raised area (a couple of low steps), running down the center, to allow those patrons a view, above the tables at the windows. We have dined in both, and prefer the lower level, but have no objections, if we are seated on that upper level.We started with a couple of glasses of Louis Roederer Carte Blanch Champagne NV, while we looked over the menu for the evening. While the á la carte selections were tempting, we decided on Chef Joo Won’s “Fine Wine Dégustation Menu,” with Sommelier Rudina Arapi’s Wine Pairings. This has been a common selection for us, and they have never let us down. We sat back, waiting for the evening to begin, nibbling on the great olives that Galvin always has at the table. These are probably the best olives, I have ever encountered, and I think that I could eat the entire jar!.First came the Amuse Bouche Course (Jigab, or Korean for “Purse”), served with Dom Ruinart Blanc de Blancs ‘07 - ah, more Champagne. The evening was getting off to a great start, and then we had an array of tasty breads, arrive. I noticed that Galvin has added a new butter knife - or at least I had not seen it before. It resembled a silver tulip bulb on the base, with the blade atop that. The larger, weighted base kept this knife upright, and the blade off of the table. It also did not need to balance on the side of the bread plate - neat!First Course was Raw Kingfish w/ cucumber, kohlrabi and sweet chilli, served with Domaine Mittnacht Grand Cru Rosacker Riesling from Alsace ‘14 - this was an excellent starter, even though I am not a fan of cucumber (unless pickled). Everything in the dish was in great balance, as was the Riesling. A wonderful course, and wine pairing. We were definitely starting well.The next course was Isle of Wight Tomatoes w/ Mozzarella, black olive caramel, basil oil, chilli and sesame, served with Domaine Billaud-Simon Grand Cru Les Preuses Chablis ‘16 - the flinty Chablis was a perfect counter-point to the tomatoes and especially the Mozzarella. We were really having fun now. We also got an extra wine, the IS Argiolas Vermentino, Sardinia ‘17.Next was Kimchi Risotto w/ slow-cooked egg and sesame, with Domaine Joseph Voillot Volnay 1er Cru En Champans ‘14 - while I love Risotto, I was a bit hesitant with the Kimchi, but then we’ve done several Korean-themed dinners with Chef Won, so I just went with the flow, and this was a spectacular dish, and the Volnay paired beautifully. We got a bonus wine here, the Huia Marlborough Pinot Gris ‘17 - nice, but the Volnay over-shadowed it.The Fish Course was Baked Hake w/ seaweed crust, Iberico pork and spicy cabbage, paired with Vincent Girardin Puligny-Montrachet Les Vieilles Vignes ‘16 - while Girardin is not my favorite producer in Puligny-Montrachet, this was a lovely wine, and served at the appropriate temp - barely cool. It went beautifully with the Hake. Now, on our flight over, United Airlines had served Hake, which, for airline food, was not bad (at 30'000'), this was superb! The fish was moist, and the seaweed crust set it off wonderfully. Maybe United Airlines needs to consult with Chef Won? Our extra wine was Bekseju “Traditional Korean Wine,” which was quite interesting.Our Meat Course was Fillet of Scotch Beef w/ a stew of braised ox heart, short rib and pomme anna in a red wine jus, paired with the Château Pichon-Longueville Comtesse de Lalande 2ème Cru Classé Pauillac ‘06 - Wow, this dish was likely the highlight of a meal with nothing but highlights, and the older Bordeaux was drinking beautifully with it. For this course, we also got the Mas De Daumas Gassac Saint-Guilhem-Le Désert Cité D’Aniane ‘16. Intermezzo was Yoghurt Sorbet & shizo granita - perfect!The Dessert Course was Carrot Cake w/ cream cheese and “carrot cake ice cream,” served with Château d’Yquem 1er Cru Supérieur Sauternes ‘02 - OK, I am not the “dessert person” in the family, but this was very good, and with the d’Yquem, perfect - I mean, what’s not to love, with a glass of d’Yquem? Well, our extra wine, the Domaine L’Ancienne Cure L’Abbaye Monbazillac ‘11 did a nice job too, but was “out classed” in this instance.The entire meal, and the wine pairings, was excellent. Even at £399/person, we felt that it was a good value - especially with these wines.All evening, our service, and the wine service, was perfect, with excellent pacing. Our Sommelier took the time to explain Ms Arapi’s thinking on each pairing, and though I knew most of the wines, I learned a few new details on each.The room was beautiful, and though it was cloudy, the sunset was still lovely, and our view to the south, was great, as well. I have found very few “view restaurants,” with great food, but Galvin @ Windows is one of the exceptions. Come for the view - stay for the food.When we had arrived, the restaurant was virtually empty, but we were dining early, and especially by London standards. As the evening progressed, the areas, which we could see, filled up, with maybe 1-2 tables only, remaining empty. The noise level was low to barely moderate, and many of the diners seemed to be celebrating something - lots of quite, intimate conversations around us. In our years of visiting Galvin @ Windows, I do not recall any occasion, where the dB level exceeded moderate.The lighting is good, and one can get a good look at the culinary artistry, being placed before them. Being along the south-facing windows, provided us with a bit of ambient light, as well.It was just a perfect evening of creative and interesting food, great service and wonderful wines. All the more reason to return, when we are in London.
17/05/2020: Beautiful city evening views. I had a very tasty wild mushroom consommé for my starter, and Gigha Halibut for my main. The food was delicious, and the service high-end stellar.