If you didn’t know any better, you might mistake the Galvin brothers for a somewhat more sinister enterprise. It seems they have the Hyde Park Corner territory pretty well sown up. Galvin at Windows at the top floor of the London Hilton Park Lane and now Galvin At The Athenaeum just around the corner on the ground floor of the Athenaeum Hotel on Piccadilly.
Of course, we do know better, and Chris and Jeff Galvin are very hot properties these days. After all, it’s pretty rare for brothers to each have two Michelin Stars to their name.
Galvin At The Athenaeum is the result of the Galvins taking over all the food and beverage operations at the legendary Piccadilly hotel; everything from room service to THE BAR and restaurant.
It’s a shrewd move from the private owners of The Athenaeum Hotel, because now they have a readymade and trained restaurant and bar team and can just focus on delivering a tip top hotel service.
Galvin At The Athenaeum is a celebration of British ingredients; a brasserie style restaurant that is delightfully informal yet retains the Galvin quality trademark under the stewardship of Executive Chef William Lloyd-Baker.
There is no front door as such, the restaurant just spills out into the Athenaeum lobby, itself simply a discreet lounge. Still, there are some banquettes at the back of the main room which is thankfully where I’m guided to.
When it comes to Galvin classic starters, you will find a few on the menu; Lasagne of Dorset Crab (£15.50, Galvin cured smoked salmon, blini, sour cream and caviar (£12.50) Smoked Barbary duck breast with crassane pear and turnip remoulade (£8.50)
Instead I go for an utterly delicious Rosanna onion and cider soup with Lincolnshire Poacher (£8) . My partner’s heritage beetroot and Westcombe ricotta on sourdough is in her words “the finest beet dish in my living memory”
High praise indeed.
Interestingly, the wine list carries a sprinkling of fine British examples including a crisp Bacchus Kingscote white from Essex on tap no less.
The mains prove to be a more complex operation, with more than a few seductive offerings. “Jubilee” lamb curry, mango chutney, raita and basmati rice (£18.50) is a dish Chris Galvin created for the Queen’s Jubilee, Cassoulet of Gressingham duck and Gloucester Old Spot sausage (£18.50) is clearly an Anglo/French alliance, while haunch of Denham Estate venison and smoked mash and chocolate (£24.50) clearly isn’t.
In the end my partner reverts to type and chooses a Galvin classic fish pie (£16.50) and I decide on the Rose County beef rib eye, chips and green peppercorn butter. (£27.50). The fish pie is certainly substantial, although difficult to identify what fish is in it; possibly cod, haddock and salmon. The rib-eye however is perfection with chunky feel good chips and an extra side of sauté spinach.
By now I’m glad we have the banquette, the restaurant is satisfyingly full and I’m enjoying the slightly detached opportunity to peruse the room.
There can be no turning down a Galvin dessert, and not wanting to disappoint, I pick a delicious blood orange cheesecake with Valrhona ice cream (£7.50). Completely self-indulgent I know, but life is far too short.
Galvin At The Athenaeum is a very affordable and delicious culinary journey for anyone hesitating to dive into a more exclusive Galvin Michelin experience. Many of my serving team were formerly at La Chapelle, so for the price, you certainly get the best of both worlds here.
Tell me more about Galvin At The Athenaeum
Galvin At The Athenaeum 116 Piccadilly, Mayfair, London W1J 7BJ
Tel: 020 7640 3333