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Launch of Sabrina's one-to-one private cookery tuition Guest critic on Gordon Ramsay's 'F-Word' series finale Organised Top Chef Charity Banquet for Haiti raising £70,000 for 'Action Against Hunger' Seasonal Food & Recipe Writer for 'Blue Tomato'

Winner of Channel 4's 'Come Dine With Me' (West London) 'Bronze' winner in professionally judged 'AA Home Cooking Competition 2009' Appointed resident cookery columnist for Foodepedia

Japanese Rice Risotto with Miso, Lemongrass and Scallops

Japanese Rice Risotto with Miso, Lemongrass and Scallops

Seasonal Penne Mediterraneo

Seasonal Penne Mediterraneo

Persian Split Pea, Dried Lime and Lamb Stew

Persian Split Pea, Dried Lime and Lamb Stew

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Galvin La Chapelle

I was quite surprised to read some mixed reviews for this much-acclaimed new opening for the Galvin brothers. I have always been a big fan of Galvin at Windows although I accept that it is, perhaps, not to everyone's taste. I guess its a marmite thing, in the fact that you either 'love it or hate it'. I always find that the food at any Galvin establishment is always beautifully executed and so I struggle to digest people's reviews saying certain dishes at La Chapelle were unspecial, because simplicity is exactly what they do so very well. Having said that, often what we refer to as 'simple' is not always reflective of the labour involved in creating these perceived to be simple dishes.

There is no denying that La Chapelle is an absolutely stunning restaurant. It isn't trying to be trendy, it isn't trying to be glamourous, but it does have 'old-world' charm and an effortless sophistication that no matter how hard you try, cannot purposely be engineered these days. It is a comfortable style and elegance combined with faultless service and a smooth experience from start to finish that really makes these rare little gems so wonderful.

I chose the Dorset crab lasagne to start with that was a delicate tower of sweet crab meat bound with egg layered between fresh pasta sheets, nestled in a veloute of chanterelle mushrooms that was smooth and creamy and very moreish. For main course, I chose the absolute last thing I would EVER choose in a restaurant... CHICKEN. This is how much faith I have in the Galvins to deliver a good dish, because I almost always choose meat or fish in restaurants, heck even vegetarian mains over chicken.... Supreme of Landaise chicken with an abundance of plump Morel mushrooms, vibrant green peas and aromatic crispy shards of fried Jambon cru - an incredible amalgamation of salty ham, sweet pea, succulently moist chicken breast with the luxurious flavour of those oh-so-special Morel mushrooms that perfume the light cream sauce.

Desserts are never my thing, but this still wouldn't deter me from ordering. I plump (stupidly) for the chilled chocolate fondant with banana yoghurt ice cream and 3 meteor-looking chunks of honeycomb and a nice glass of Chateau Monbazillac to accompany it. Needless to say I made the mistake of picking the richest dessert on the menu and only managed to finish half before settling back into my chair feeling like I had swallowed a pillow.

Overall, a very enjoyable meal and I will most definitely go back soon, perhaps when the summer menu kicks in, to see what lovely summery offerings they will have for us. If you are thinking of going to Galvin La Chapelle, I wouldn't listen to reviews, instead just have a look at their menu online and if you like the menu then you should go, because - what the Galvin brothers do, they seem to do very well indeed!


  1. Hi Sabrina,

    Hope all is well - sorry we haven't been able to meet up recently. We're now expecting 'Baby LF' to arrive in about a month's time, so preparing for that - very exciting! :)

    I totally agree with you about the Galvin brothers + have lots of respect for their cooking - I also loved Galvin at Windows when I went (see review: http://laissezfare.wordpress.com/2010/01/27/galvin-at-windows-%E2%80%93-flying-high-deservedly-so/ ), and have also visited La Chapelle.

    I thought the food was very consistently good (I had the same starter you did and loved it), but... (a) think they ARE trying very hard to make it look glam/trendy - c'mon, what's up with the elevated loos, etc.? - and (b) the service was atrocious when we visited, bordering on downright rude and definitely condescending. I was with a large group and it really put us off our meal, despite the exquisitely precise cooking and wonderful flavors.

    Glad you fared better!

    I did take some photos, though. They're here if you care to take a gander:


    Hope all is well with you and to catch up at some point!

    All the best,


  2. That's a shame, it seems we were treated like a pair of Princesses and couldn't have been more well looked after. They arent't big fans of people coming in with cameras and snapping the food though. Maybe that's why you were treated that way? I think maybe if you knew how hard it was to build a restaurant from a gutted Church, you might understand the raised level loos. If anything, there is actually nothing glamorous at all about that whatsoever, so I whole heartedly disagree with your comment about them trying hard to look glam. Knowing Chris, he is a very modest man and I know he wouldn't even stoop as low as to try hard to do something like that. Essentially, look up at the ceiling, notice the original beams and ceiling of the chapel and realise if he WAS trying that hard, he would have probably addressed that too!

  3. Hi again,

    Understand where you're coming from on the design - I think it is beautiful and lovingly restored / rendered. Re: the service, though, if people come in and are polite, humble and professional, they shouldn't be talked down to (and told off) by the front-of-house as if they are school children who have done something naughty, when they haven't. We had also enquired with their PR over a week ahead of time to see if it was possible to take photos, and never heard back from them. Besides that, the serving of the food was slow at times and inconsistent (even though the restaurant was half-full). For instance, they came and asked us if we wanted to see the wine list AFTER our food had arrived?!

    I don't know the Galvins personally, but I do really respect them for their cooking and their attention to detail and consistency. But I think they do have a serious FOH problem at La Chapelle, as I know at least 3 others who went there (as couples) and thought the service odd and/or cold and overly formal.

    Possibly these were teething problems, who knows?

    Anyway, enough about all of this. Hope to see you soon! :)