A few weeks ago I had a call from a friend who was between jobs, suggesting a girls' lunch as a special treat. I've always been a huge fan of the set lunch at Le Gavroche, but it was too late to secure a booking there, however, scanning through places with a sense of occasion and luxury, Galvin at Windows (on the 28th floor of the Hilton on Park Lane) looked just the ticket for some midweek glamour.
Given that we both had school runs later that afternoon, we met for an early lunch and, thankfully, the skies were clear, so the views were spectacular. We settled on the menu du jour (two courses for £25, three courses for £29) and the accompanying flight of two glasses of wine for £9. They also offer a fuller set lunch deal of three courses with half a bottle of wine, water and coffee for £45 per person (on par with the set lunch at Le Gavroche). There were three choices for each course: for starter I was really tempted by the deliciously seasonal sounding poached breast of wood pigeon, pine nut purée, beetroot and elderberry jus. My friend had grilled mackerel, mackerel brandade, pickled cucumber and tomato dressing.
The keenly priced set menu wine selection included several impressive names, spanning the world and offering a broad range of styles. We enjoyed discussing the wines with enthusiastic and knowledgeable sommelier, Ashraf Saleh who had just visited Bordeaux. The impressive full main wine list includes a tempting selection of Champagne and sparkling wine (given that it's an ideal venue for celebrations), many wines by the glass and even some natural wines.
I was drawn to the rosé, Terra Alta Más Amor Rosado (Cataluña) by Christophe Brunet and Franck Massard (who met while working at Torres in Spain – and who I liaised with closely while I was the company's PR consultant). This was great with my pigeon, its spicy red fruit complimenting the sweetly gamey meat, beetroot and berries. It was also good with the flavoursome mackerel and salty brandade.
These were all excellent dishes with a lovely seasonal feel, but my only criticism is that the portions were limited. I felt as though I could have devoured everything in the bat of a heavily mascara'd eyelid. Consequently, we had plenty of room for dessert – again, beautifully judged, delicious dishes. We shared spiced honey glazed black fig, goat cheese Bavarian cream with pain d'épices ice cream and carrot cake, caramelised walnut purée, lime and coriander sherbet. The sommelier also kindly treated us to glasses of sparkling dessert wine to round off our lunch.
The goat cheese cream was a welcome tangy contrast to the decadently sweet fig and the lime and coriander sherbet was fresh and palate cleansing alongside the light-as-a-feather carrot cake. There was another glamorous touch with the delicately flavoured carrot foam. The Ice Cuvée was a light and perfumed and made a very pretty accompaniment.
We concluded our lunch with fresh mint tea, chocolates and home-made marshmallows while chatting to general manager, Fred Sirieix, before a quick tour behind the scenes through the kitchen and onto the staff balcony (see opening picture). We felt thoroughly spoilt and it was a great end to an already memorable lunch. We headed off on our respective school runs, me clutching a goodie bag of marshmallows which my daughter and friends were treated to in the park. Lucky girls!
Galvin at Windows
The Hilton Hotel
22 Park Lane
London W1K 1BE
Tel 020 7208 4021