Eating at a Galvin brothers establishment is always an event. It’s nearly 15 years since the Michelin-starred chefs who earned their plaudits cooking in London’s best hotel kitchens turned their attention to their own highly eclectic restaurants.
From Mayfair’s most glamorous sky-room to a gastropub in their native Essex, each is totally different, but on a summer’s day, it’s hard to beat an alfresco lunch at Galvin HOP in Spitalfields.
This deceptively simple-looking restaurant with a terrace on the new London thoroughfare of Bishop Square steps from Liverpool Street station
serves food of great sophistication and a more modern vibe than the French classics which were its staples before a recent relaunch.
The secret weapon in Chris and Jeff’s arsenal is David, their provisioning brother who supplies so many ingredients for their kitchens. This may be the reason why the courgette flowers so rarely seen outside the vegetable patch in the UK have a permanent summer presence on the HOP menu as they would in the restaurants of southern Europe. At HOP’ the sunshine-coloured blooms are stuffed with goat’s cheese seasoned with lemon zest and back pepper before being dipped into a tempura batter and fried golden.
While seasonality is one thing which makes the food at Galvin HOP so glorious, it means the exquisite chilled cucumber soup has already gone, although other stars of executive head chef Zac Whittle’s summer menu remain. These include a miso-glazed aubergine richer and meatier than any of the meat offerings, although the lamb steak on the bone with peas and goat’s curd is highly recommended.
The combination of aubergine and miso is a Japanese favourite, and Asian flavours have infiltrated Galvins through Joo Won, head chef at their flagship Windows restaurant at the Hilton Park Lane, who has a named presence on the HOP dinner menu with his Korean chicken, and may have something to do with French fries coming garnished with sriracha mayo. But the Galvins remain proudly British at heart; they may offer properly Spanish-tasting chorizo croquettes with saffron aioli, but they also serve Welsh rarebit with Marmite toast.
So long as David Galvin keeps bringing in fantastic sweet gariguette strawberries from Kent, don’t miss the changing desserts which incorporate this king of British berries. They have alternately been delicious garnishing a buttermilk pannacotta topped with salty crumble, and a whipped cheesecake with basil.
Although they no longer consider their Spitalfields outlet a pub, drinks at what has been rebranded a “modern bistro” remain proper and (mostly) serious. Pilsner Urquell is unpasteurised and flown in fresh weekly from the Czech Republic, and excellent Provence rose and other summery wines are available by the glass. There are craft beers from London brewer Truman, and traditional ginger libations for non-drinkers, but strawberry Ribena – really? You have to put it down to the Galvin brothers’ wicked sense of humour, and given they cook like angels they can get away with any menu item they care to field.
Tell me more about Galvin HOP
35 Spital Square
London E1 6DY
T: 0044 0207 299 0404