Galvin Bistrot de Luxe. Use your bus pass.
It’s the sort of place you could take your grandmother. Or someone really dull. It won’t scare them.
Unusually, there were a lot of people there over the age of 50 which is always an unexpected pleasure in a Central London restaurant these days especially since I am approaching a milestone birthday of my own and need to know where these places are.
Perhaps the oldies like it because this isn’t trendy or quirky and doesn’t have any gimmicks. Or play any music.
It’s a simple brasserie, reasonably priced and with competent service. It’s the very first in the Galvin chain and very different to the other Galvin offerings. Sitting unobtrusively amongst the nondescript shops on Baker Street you could very easily walk past it. It seems to be inhabited by local office workers at lunchtime and local residents in the evening.
Inside, it’s very French in feel and could be a neighbourhood bistro. The decor is fairly old-fashioned and the lighting is fairly harsh. I don’t come here for the decor. I usually come here for lunch with my very glamorous friend who works opposite, because it’s near both our offices, safe, consistent and slick. They also serve you fairly quickly, always a bonus in my book .
I thought I’d try dinner this time, because I needed somewhere comforting and unchallenging and this was what came to mind. I like the fact that there is no music. I like the fact that the menu is fairly uncompromising. I like the fact that the service is quick and efficient and a lot of the waiting staff appear to be French, or at least they were on the evening that I was there.
And the food?
The bread is standard french baguette. not my all time favourite (we’d have to go to Moro for that) but fresh and crusty with decent butter.
I had an extremely tasty lasagne of Dorset crab, beurre Nantais. it was light and delicate , fluffy and tasty in a cream sauce. I mopped up all the sauce with my bread. They pretended not to notice.
The crab was whipped into a mousse and there were thin layers of pasta at the bottom middle and at the top. This worked very well and I would have been happy to have had this as a main course
Continuing with the theme of comfort, and addicted to broad beans in season, I ordered the broad bean risotto, with poached duck egg and pecorino. It was very green. It wasn’t the most delicate risotto that I’ve ever had, but it was competent and the rice was properly cooked. I’d say it was bordering on the slightly stodgy and the flavours were a little too simple, but it was comfort food and it wasn’t expensive.
I wasn’t really in the mood for dessert although my fork did find its way over to the other side of the table, to help itself to a little bit of the Tarte Tatin ordered by my dining companion. It was a struggle not help myself to the whole dish. It was properly done and the pastry was buttery and flaky and I the apples properly caramelised. I really could have eaten quite a lot of it but I was getting the look, so I stopped.
There is a set lunch and a good value set dinner in the evening which finishes at 7 PM.This is a reasonable pre-theatre choice. It won’t scare the horses and it knows how to make a decent Kir, so it gets my vote. Don’t go out of your way, but if you’re passing it’s worth a try.