Jeff and Chris Galvin are Essex boys made good. They worked their way up the greasy pole at various London restaurants before opening their own, Galvin Bistrot de Luxe in Baker Street seven years ago. La Chapelle was their third restaurant and opened in 2009, winning a Michelin star the next year. The setting of La Chapelle is extremely impressive: it is housed in a converted Victorian school chapel – tables are set between resplendent marble pillars, the walls have been pared back to the original stonework and the intricately composed beams of the 30m high vaulted ceiling are stunning. Head chef Eric Joliboi is French and he cut his teeth in the restaurants of Paris before taking over at the helm of La Chapelle. Joliboi’s menu is classically French and he has retained the bulk of the Galvin brothers signature dishes, including crab lasagne, duck leg confit and apple tarte tatin.
I started with the famous crab lasagne which was simply but elegantly presented in a little circular tower on top of a buerre blanc moat. The pasta was a beautiful rich yellow and was rolled incredibly thin but retained a nice firm texture, the white crab meat was full of flavour and the creamy beurre blanc was perfectly executed. At £16.50 this is a very expensive starter but it is hard to quibble with such refined cooking. For main course I had loin and faggots of venison with fondant potato, cabbage and chanterelles (£32.50). The venison loin, which is sourced from Denham in Suffolk, had been cooked in a waterbath so it was cooked through but was still wonderfully tender. However, for me the faggot was the stand out component of the dish – it was rich but still balanced, I think it used a mix of heart and belly fat, with a hint of liver and hints of onion. The fondant potato was buttery and luxurious, the cabbage and chanterelles added earthiness and were doused in wonderfully sticky venison jus.
I finished with an apple tarte tatin which was a simple but perfectly executed dish – the pastry was light, buttery and flaky, and the apple was soft and sticky. The caramel wasn’t overly sweet and had deep nutty notes. It is quite hard to present a tarte tatin in an interesting way and as you can see from the picture below, Joliboi’s tarte looked rather staid.
Verdict: perfectly executed but rather spendy French classics 7.5/10