Cuisine in the Clouds – it’s Galvin at Windows, Mayfair

29 Oct 2017

The stately Hilton on Park Lane is illuminated by lights so blue, you’d think there was an emergency. This flashy bugger is Thursday night’s reservation. And I can’t wait!  

To be more precise, it’s the 28th floor I want to get to. I’m here for Head Chef Joo Won’s Menu du Jour (two courses at £31) in Galvin at Windows, but reaching the restaurant is no walk in the park when you’re in a lift less obedient than a housefly on cocaine. When I made it past the 21st floor I finally understood what it was like for Mo Farah to get the gold, and I celebrated like any good athlete would, with a strong gin and tonic.

The restaurant is decadent, to say the least with string curtains and huge gold sculptures climbing the walls, but it’s the un-ignorable 360° views of London skyline that are the real ornamentation, and I stare out the window for so long, it’s like I’m actually trying to get bored of it.

Our wine expert is younger than my t-shirt, and I try not to explode with envy at his sophistication, knowledge (and French accent) as he picks out a flight of white wines to complement our courses.

For our starters, it’s the salad of beetroot, fig, almond granola & calvados jelly. It arrives on large white plates with lumps of beetroot spread so far apart it’s like they’ve fallen out, but there is no room for arguments once they’re in my mouth, the jelly and beetroot thrive on each other’s sweetness, and the almond granola adds a perfect crunch. It goes perfectly with the dry Pinot Grigio Minini, Casa Vinicola, Italy N.V. (£10), which is clean, fruity and refreshing – the waiter was definitely right.

In places like this, everyone is on their best behaviour, you wouldn’t catch the hostess chatting about what she did last summer, the barman sending a WhatsApp on his phone, or a fellow diner using a knife when they should be using a fork. There is grace and sophistication in the air like the common flu, and everyone has caught it. It’s what makes me nervous about dining here, but also part of the thrill.

I’m apologising to the waiter about the mess I’ve made with the complimentary bread roll as the main course arrives at the table. The gooey pieces of potato gnocchi, strong camembert and baby leek is a mass of creamy goodness, enhanced by pops of sugar from crunchy yellow sweetcorn. It’s an incredible dish and I’m only distracted momentarily to take sips of the central Chilean Sauvignon Blanc San Abello Valle, 2016 which I like so much I’m forced to order it again.

Nothing can compete with having dinner in the sky: it’s fantastic. They could have served bread and water and I would have still had a good time, but the great food, great atmosphere and great scenery are the makings of a great evening. It’s by far the kind of place you’d want to come every night, but save it for your best self and it’s bound to be swell. My hats are off to the staff and most importantly the chef, but I’d make sure you have a stiff drink in the bar before you leave: you still have to exit via the sentient lift.

Be sure to check out the Autumn Classics menu that draws on the warm, hearty and earthy flavours of the season. The three-course menu is priced at £37 and the two-course menu at £31.


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