Last Monday I fell in love with London all over again. They say that you can’t fully understand a situation until having existed within it, you can stand back from it and gather perspective. And there is something to be said for being up high, surveying a vista as it spreads out below you, which is strangely life-affirming. Without getting gushy. This is what happenned to me at Galvin at Windows – the fine French restaurant that sits atop The Hilton, Park Lane, on it’s shimmering 28th floor.
Gliding up to the top floor, in a gleaming golden elevator you’re pinged out into an equally shiny lobby where various staff bend over backwards to welcome/take coats/look busy and feel important. You’re then guided through to the low-lit bar, all 70s chic with dark brown, cream and gold interiors. Floor to ceiling windows reveal a shimmering panorama of London’s twinkling lights. I can heartily recommend pausing for a Winter Leaf cocktail, a muddle of bourbon, aged rum and pear with a int of spicy cinnamon– liquid Christmas.
In the dining room, request a window seat, the view is, after all what you’ve come for. Then loosen your belt and prepare to feast. The French know how to eat and at Galvin they like to feed (if you’re willing to pay that is). Choose from a 2 or three course menu and opt for the wine pairing if you’re feeling brave; an accomplished sommelier selects grapes to perfection, but at two glasses per course, plus brandy, port and dessert wine, you need to have a strong constitution. The Boy ordered Grouse with wild berries and game chips – a delicious romp in a wild forest. While I opted for turbot with octopus – each tendril a juicy, charred piece of substantial meat. The presentation is alittle 80’s, but, goddamit, what are you looking at your plate for? Get back to the view.
Our dessert (after oozing our way through the generously stocked cheese trolley), was the plate du jour. A moon sized, oven fresh, apple tart – with oysters of plump Pink Lady apple in pillowy pastry all laced with treacle. Sliced in two at the table, the tart comes served with a jug of hot caramel sauce and cold clotted Calvados cream. Truly sublime. And perfectly seasonal.
Will Galvin be the best meal you’ve ever had? Possibly not, it’s fussy and at times overwhelming but essentially hearty, rich and delicious. Is it expensive? Depends who’s paying, but typically yes, you’re looking at £13 a cocktail and £65 for two courses (no alcohol). Is the view breathtaking? Most certainly. Galvin at Windows feels like an indulgent treat, the sort of dinner service my Grandpa would appreciate, none of this East London laid back cool – it’s formal, pristine, shiny and special, which sometimes is what you need in London, to take you far away from office politics/that hideous tube ride and remind you just how epic a capital city it is.