From one converted chapel to another... This week a celebration was in order. And so, in need of a special venue with equally special food to match, we reserved a table for four at the critically acclaimed Galvin La Chapelle at 35 Spital Square. La Chapelle is the third in a series of restaurants by the Galvin brothers, which innovates and celebrates modern French cuisine.
La Chapelle's architecture, just like its menu, perfectly balances the old and the new. The building is exquisite and vast with triple ceiling height, exposed brickwork and a glass balcony suspended in the air. The food is equally grand. The traditional and attentive service leads with confidence and warmth.
Treating ourselves to the lavish à la carte menu I started with the lasagne of Dorset crab with beurre Nantais. The china bell cover was ceremonially lifted to reveal a dainty yet incredibly rich and powerful layering of thinly crafted pasta, fresh crab adorned with rich, creamy sauce. The traditional flavours of fresh herbs, butter and crab were perfectly balanced.
The ballotine of Landes foie gras, blood peaches and pain d'épices was glorious. The sharp and sweet blood-red peaches cut the richness of the paté with their freshness, whilst the spiced croutons added another sweet layer of warmth and texture.
Next was the Chateaubriand of Cumbrian beef, boulangère potatoes, savoy cabbage and bone marrow. The dish was undeniably stunning. The tenderloin filet was perfectly rested. It melted, cutting like butter, whilst its outer layer was delicately seared and speckled with flavour.
The pavé of cod, with fresh cobnuts, peas, girolles and Vin Jaune velouté was dynamic and fresh. The crisp skin and rich mushrooms were lightened and refreshed by the vibrant addition of peas and purée.
The supreme of Landes Guinea fowl, purple cauliflower, Romanesco and a beef bouillon was wonderful. The fresh summer bedding of bright cauliflower and tomatoes was lavished with the rich beef broth and crispy skin. The light gnocchi absorbed the broth and wrapped the perfectly cooked fowl in a further texture and flavour.
For dessert the chilled Valrhona chocolate fondant, with caramelia centre and honeycomb was perhaps the best dessert I have ever eaten.
Rather than one heavy note of bitter dark chocolate sponge the fondant was a light and melting texture of glistening chocolate, which gave way to reveal a caramel glossy, sweet centre. The additions of soaked raisins, crisp honey comb and a heavenly banana ice cream were enhancing rather than unnecessary overkill.
The dolce chocolate cremeux, pistachio sponge and raspberry sorbet tasted as vibrant and varied as its appearance. With the sweet, feathery pistachio cake came a contrast to the rich cremeux and sharp berry sorbet, all punctured by the crisp bite of nut biscuit shards.
Their famous apple tarte tatin with Normandy creme fraiche was so buttery, so flaky, with sticky caramel sweetness and bursting with the apples' juices. A classic perfected.
With our coffees and fresh mint teas came a selection of petits fours. The mini macarons and truffles were immaculately crafted and flavoured. The more unusual presence of pineapple and mint marshmallows took me back to scented gel pens from my childhood, although I still can't decide whether this was a good or bad thing.
La Chapelle is truly spectacular. Despite its grandeur it ultimately remains a warm celebration of the very best French flavours and ingredients.
I am an amateur cook blogging about the food I eat and cook, and my travels along the way.