For our anniversary dinner, Thomas and I visited Galvin at Windows. Having been out of action for the best part of a week with a particularly nasty stomach bug I was glad of a celebratory night out. We started proceedings with some champagne and half a dozen Fines de Claires oysters at J Sheekey Oyster Bar.
Extravagant but brilliant. The Oyster bar was fairly deserted and it feels a little stuffy. I'd like to return later in the evening another time. Perhaps when in full swing the atmosphere picks up, it felt a little flat but service was excellent.
So too was the service at Galvin at Windows. Certainly one of my best meals of the year, there is very little I could fault. We opted for Head Chef André Garrett's Prestige menu which offers 3 courses for £58.
To start things off we were given an amuse bouche of butternut squash puree with parmesan foam. This looked very pretty, almost like a dessert but with deep umami flavours courtesy of the cheesy foam it was deliciously savoury. The texture of the puree was a little more solid that I'd expected but the taste was delicate in contrast to the strong parmesan topping. A fine start.
There were 2 types of bread offered, olive and rye and some salted butter served on a cool slate. We chose a German Riesling to accompany as we were both starting with fish. My starter was perhaps my favourite thing about the meal.
I chose the salmon and crab starter which was vibrantly appealing. The salmon was tender and falling apart whilst still being robust and substantial in flavour. The crab meat, white and dark was scattered over the top and quinelled in the centre. There was a sprinkling of pickled ginger, baby basil leaves, chives and some spots of caviar. A rich and luxurious dish it was absolutely remarkable in it's execution, everything combining together and managing to not overload the tastebuds and remain fresh in flavour. There were some dollops of creamed avocado too, subtle and smooth adding yet another texture variant.
Thomas' started with seared scallops with pumpkin puree and pomegranate. These were cooked perfectly, the interesting combination of pomegranates and pumpkin merging wonderfully, the fruity seeds popping in the mouth and adding an exciting crunch to each bite. The bacon and maple vinaigrette was tangy and meaty, an oft used but doubtless perfect partner for scallops.
For main I plumped for the Game of the Day which in this instance was pheasant with fondant potatoes and mushroom jus. I was impressed with the portion sizes and my main was again nicely presented, the jus being poured over the plate in front of me by the waiter. The bed of caramelized onion and sprigs of broccoli were well seasoned and crunchy, the meat tender and packed full of flavour but the thing that sung out to me in the dish was the potato. Cooked in stock to enrich it with flavour then pan fried and literally makes my mouth water every time I think back to just how good it was, the humble potato turned into something unforgettable.
Thomas' main course of fillet of scotch beef with fois gras, short rib and braised shallots he declared as without a doubt the finest dish he has ever eaten. Due to the darkness of the restaurant my pictures are awful and my picture of the fillet was unreadable. I tasted this too and the quality of the meat was fantastic, there can be few greater things to eat than a great steak and fois gras.
For dessert we were both feeling a little full but decided to continue the extravagance and had the pear tart tartin to share. It was enormous and so very well made, the pastry incredibly buttery and the fruits cooked perfectly, served with a decadent pouring of caramel sauce and pear liqueur laced cream. I managed a few bites before having to admit defeat but savoured each mouthful. This really was the kind of meal that makes you regret that you cannot eat more, I would have loved to sample some of the cheese too.
Once we'd asked for the bill we were presented with a cute plate of petit fours, thoughtfully decorated with a happy anniversary message, I'd mentioned the reason for our booking. The chocolates were a fine end to the meal, there were 3 varieties, 1 dark chocolate ganache, 1 coffee flavoured and 1 orange chocolate.
As a parting gift we were offered a piece of marshmallow, pink or green, I tried one of each, this is the kind of touch which I think sets Galvin at Windows apart from their peers and places them at the very top of my list of restaurants, though admittedly, I still have many to try! Including the new Galvin La Chapelle
We also had a pre meal cocktail in the bar with the most incredible views over the city. Nibbles were nice too, mixed nuts and wasabi peas. This was genuinely the nicest meal I have had in a long time and I am keen to return, both service and cuisine here at Windows are impeccable, coupled with the romantic setting and reasonabley priced set menus, I wholeheartedly recommend it.
Galvin at Windows
Hilton Park Lane