Galvin La Chapelle, United Kingdom

Glass tries the vegetarian menu at Galvin La Chapelle, Spitalfields

 

WHEN it comes to dining with a twist, London is full of weird and wonderful restaurants. However, while I sat sipping on a glass of crisp white Muscadet in a grade II Victorian school chapel in the centre of Spitalfields, it was clear that Galvin La Chapelle offers a truly unique dining experience. From the moment I stepped foot in the grand building, I was greeted by a small entourage of staff who cared about nothing more than having me settle in comfortably for dinner.

The chefs cook theatrically in full view of guests and smells of garlic dance out of the kitchen and lead me to my table. While tucking into some fine fresh French bread, I ponder over the wine menu with the help of a sommelier. It’s easy to admire the interior of Galvin La Chapelle but those dining on the mezzanine level have a much better view as they are squeezed in below the elaborate wooden beam vaulted ceiling.

Unlike traditional French cuisine, chef-patron Jeff Galvin has extended his welcome to those who don’t eat dairy and meat with his introduction of the vegetarian and vegan menu. Opting for the vegetarian menu, I find myself intrigued by the creativity of the starters. The shaved fennel, grapefruit and avocado purée shows Galvin’s playfulness with flavours however my love for cheese left me with no option but to order the salad of heritage tomatoes with burrata and black olives. I was slightly confused as to why the Italian cheese was on the menu but nevertheless the tiny beads of burrata were delightful bursts of creaminess which worked perfectly with the tomato and salty olives.

Vegetables feature heavily in the choice for mains, and I was slightly underwhelmed with vegetable risotto and a tagine options. Enticed by the decorative courgette, I ordered the quinoa and freekeh-filled courgette flower with came with tomato jam, basil and pine nuts. Its flavour was simple yet tasty but after I’d managed half of the dish, I found myself dreaming of something a bit heavier. French cuisine has a tendency to be pretentious and over the top, however the quinoa and freekeh were quite the opposite as something more of a light lunch rather than a main course at a French restaurant.

By 8 o’clock, guests has filled all the tables and La Chapelle was in full swing. The staff remained attentive in the restaurant’s peak, and my waiter kindly helped advise what dessert would be best for me.

To finish, I indulge in English strawberries with black peppered meringue and basil. The meringue was light and perfectly punchy along with the sweetness of the strawberries and it’s presentation was much like modern art.  The dessert was too good to share and in fact the perfect end to my dinner.

Galvin La Chapelle is fine dining with a conscience. Those looking for elaborate, show stopping tricks should look elsewhere however if you want honest, fresh and easy going food La Chapelle is exactly that. In this light of vegetarian and vegan growth, it’s great to see a high end restaurant including those who make up much of the population with no arrogance. The food is unpretentious and I leave the restaurant feeling happy.

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