Elegant creations with a playful touch are also excellent value for money for an establishment on London's Park Lane, ensures new head chef Marc Hardiman. Lisa Jenkins pays a visit.
Marc Hardiman is the relatively new kid on the block at Galvin at Windows, the restaurant on the 28th floor of the London Hilton on Park Lane.
The head chef joined the hotel in July 2020 from the same role at the Ritz London, with a focus on creating menus that use sustainable, fresh and seasonal British produce with an element of fun in the dining experience.
"We are so incredibly lucky to boast some of the best views in London, and this view provides me with a daily snapshot of the seasons as they change," he says. "It is very humbling to see nature in its pure state and this has featured on many plates we have created."
Hardiman works closely with general manager Peter Avis, who took over the role from Fred Sirieix in February 2020. Avis brings 20 years of experience to Galvin at Windows with a portfolio including Babylon at the Roof Gardens in Kensington, as well as overseeing the culinary direction of Richard Branson's British Virgin Islands, Necker and Moskito.
There is a range of menus at Galvin, which, Hardiman says, makes them more inclusive: "Peter and I want people to feel they can come to Galvin at Windows no matter who they are or what their budget is." The market menu offers a three-course lunch for £39, a three-course set dinner for £45 and a five-course tasting menu for £90, to which can be added wine pairings for £50 or fine wine pairings for £130.
I want people to feel they can come to Galvin at Windows no matter who they are or what their budget is
Bestselling dishes depend on the day and change regularly, but Hardiman says that the fillet of beef, tartlet of short rib and smoked bone marrow mousse, carrots and lovage (£46) is a firm favourite and one he designed for the restaurant's 15th birthday celebration last month.
The tomato starter is a big hit too, made with Isle of Wight tomatoes, mascarpone made in-house and peaches, finished with fresh almonds, basil and edible flowers (£18)
Ideas in development include a dish pairing beetroots with smoked cod's roe, hazelnuts and a savoury hint of oxalis, and a barbecued beef fillet with turnips, onions and nasturtiums, a play on the concept of summer barbecues.
Desserts include a ‘Tahitian vanilla and exotic fruits hybrid' (£14), which is a fun take on a Solero ice-cream, and a chocolate éclair with a light crémeux served alongside a milk ice-cream, which is reminiscent of a Mini Milk.
The chef works with suppliers who care about the ingredients in the same way he does: "The people who call me to tell me passionately about something they have which would fit perfectly on our menu – they are the suppliers I enjoy working with," he says. This includes Aubrey Allen, which has been the restaurant's meat supplier since it opened, and Hayselden potatoes, which "supplies us with what can only be described as the best potatoes in the UK". Forager Mountain Foods offers the brigade a lesson in the types of edible herbs that are available on their doorstep.
Hardiman's priority is to provide value for money. "We want people to leave feeling like they have had the best time and eaten food they have enjoyed without feeling they paid over the odds. We price ourselves where we feel we can offer an incredible experience and guests leave feeling it was money well spent."
The restaurant doesn't tend to attract walk-in guests, but the chef is encouraged by a growing number of younger people acquainting themselves with the restaurant, and "word of mouth recommendations are still hugely powerful and personally satisfying to me."
There is an impressively long wine list, curated by Rudina Arapi, the head sommelier, and Tomas Kracalik, bar manager, has created a selection of cocktails which are based on the planets and that are "out of this world".
Avis and Hardiman ensure Galvin at Windows is a well-oiled machine bearing in mind all the different menus on offer. "Peter and I both came from very similar backgrounds and we worked our way up with grit and determination. We both like to think we do not take our positions for granted and both love to teach," he says.
The kitchen at capacity has a brigade of 18 and a kitchen manager, so there's plenty of teaching to do, but with the reputation Galvin at Windows has built up over the past 15 years, and with Hardiman and Avis at the helm, the future is bright – with an excellent view.
Galvin at Windows, 22 Park Lane, London W1K 1BE
From the menu
- Cured Faroe Islands salmon, bergamot, radishes, dill, seaweed £22
- Creel-caught Scottish langoustines, pig's cheek, pickles, lightly spiced tea £28
- Hayselden farm potato gnocchi, peas, morels, summer truffle, ricotta £28
- Cornish lamb, braised shoulder boulangère, artichoke, sheep's curd, salsa verde £39
- Beef Wellington (for two to share) £90
- Dover sole, grenobloise, étuvée of leeks, Wiltshire truffle £42
- Apple tarte tatin (for two to share) £30
- English strawberries, white chocolate and basil £15
- Earl grey, yogurt and orange £14
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