Galvin at The Athenaeum
116 Piccadilly, W1J
WHAT AND WHERE? One of four restaurants run by Michelin-starred siblings Chris and Jeff Galvin. French fine dining is usually their raison d’etre but the focus at this Mayfair hotel is homegrown produce.
WHAT’S THE DEAL? The prix fixe is £24 for three courses from 12pm until 2.30pm, with mandatory macarons at the end.
WHAT’S ON THE MENU? A generous four options per course, changing seasonally. When we were there the options were soup, Imam Bayildi, whitebait and the Galvins’ signature crab lasagne (which will set you back an extra £8). For the mains: sea bream, pasta, a hefty bacon chop with bubble and squeak and a chicken saltimbocca (also £8 extra). Dessert is a chocolate and pistachio mousse, a sticky toffee pudding, a cheese of the day with celery and grapes or a selection of cheese for – you guessed it – £8 extra.
WHAT SHOULD I PICK? The Imam Bayildi – literally ‘the imam fainted’ – is a veggie steak tartare made with stewed and spiced aubergine that’s worth swooning over. A delicious crispy skin adorns a satisfying sea bream that’s punctuated with citrus slices.
IS IT VEGGIE FRIENDLY? Two of the four starters on the set menu are gratifyingly meatless: we’ve covered one but the other is a parsnip and cider soup, served with three big parsnip crisps and laced with little pickled apple bombs that give it an unexpected sharpness. For the main course you’ve got no choice other than a bowl of rather sweaty three-grain pasta dressed with thin slivers of hard Italian cheese, a smattering of crispy kale and a small handful of toasted walnut halves.
BUSINESS OR PLEASURE? There’s a curtained private dining space just behind the main restaurant and a plush bar round the corner, set against a backdrop of exotic plants and ferns.
THE VERDICT? An assured offering in a smart, if undeniably corporate, setting. The menu is great value, especially for the location, and the bar is perfect for some after-lunch drinks.