With everything going on right now, we need of a bit of festive magic in our lives. And for those who want to (quite literally) elevate it to the next level? Let us introduce the Christmas tasting menu at Mayfair institution, Galvin at Windows.
Found on the top floor of the luxury London hotel, Hilton on Park Lane, this fine-dining institution has 360-degree city views, including The Shard, Battersea Power Station and The London Eye. Colourful and abstract pieces from leading resin artist Nat Bowen adorn the walls, while floor to ceiling windows fill the room with light. As we arrived, we were warmly welcomed with two glasses of Champagne, which really set the tone for the rest of the afternoon.
The four-course Taste of Christmas (£75 per person) is a true celebration of local, seasonal produce. Head chef Marc Hardiman is known for his take on quintessential British cuisine, and true to form each plate was executed with precision. As we tucked into our bread basket, we sat back to enjoy views of Buckingham Palace and even Queenie’s own backyard.
My date kicked things off with the juicy beetroot tartare with smoked cod roe, a refreshing dish that looked as pretty as a picture. How do they get those tiny cubes the exact same size? Being a vegetarian, I was given my own dedicated menu and started with the Jerusalem artichoke velouté. The exquisite, creamy sauce provided the ideal accompaniment to the earthy, slightly smoky mushroom brioche and the chives gave an extra hit of flavour. Topped with shavings of truffle, this indulgent starter was my favourite dish of the night.
We opted to have a wine pairing with each course (£50 per person) as Galvin at Windows are renowned for seriously knowing their grapes. We received two glasses of white with our first course, the first to cut through the fat in the fish and chardonnay from Chile to complement my velvety velouté. Restaurant manager Antonino and head sommelier Rudina took great pride in explaining each course, plus their efficient waiting team were so lovely and helpful.
Next came the cured Faroe Island salmon with Portland crab, peppered with tarragon and drizzled in a vibrant pink grapefruit sauce. The gold-gilded plate was a sight to behold, featuring edible purple flowers with flecks of green and vivid pink. I had a veggie version of my date’s first dish, but this time featuring crunchy cashews and earthy hazelnuts. With grub this good, how are we ever going to go back to cooking our own food?
After, my date’s favourite dish of the night arrived; the Merryfield Farm duck with turnip, glazed chestnut and blackberries. An exceptional plate of food that saw a rich, full-bodied sauce poured by our waiter, giving it a glazed and decadent finish. I had the pleasure of sampling the fermented shiitake risotto with truffles and oxalis, a satisfying yet refined dish that was remarkably silky in texture. We were given a generous large glass of red wine here too, Domaine Faiveley from France, which was slightly cooled and respected the taste of Christmas theme. I could imagine myself on the 25th December relaxing with a glass or two. I properly took my time with this tipple.
My bet is that a certain brand of hazelnut-dotted domed chocolate or orange-flavoured sphere is up there with one of the first things you think of when someone mentions Christmas. Imagine these, but combined and given a huge VIP upgrade. The mandarin sorbet was so fresh, unbelievably light and created a stunning end to our four courses when mixed with the decadent ‘rocher’. After a recommendation from a friend, my date had to try their legendary tarte tatin with Tahitian vanilla ice cream. It was jam-packed with sumptuous caramelised apples and the cinnamon gave us all the festive feels. Rudina accompanied our dishes with a charming dessert wine, a classic French pairing, which reflected our dishes perfectly.
Our drinks were picked up and we were escorted to the 10 Degrees bar at Galvin at Windows, named after the dusky glow that covers London before darkness appears. And sure enough, as the sun went down, we were able to see the city come alive at night and the views were breath-taking, especially the neon of Winter Wonderland in nearby Hyde Park. The cocktail lounge evoked the glamour of the 1920s with a laidback vibe, think velvet surrounds, dim lighting and swish décor. Cocktails can be made to order, and owing to the weather outside, my partner went for a tangy Dark and Stormy (£12) as I nursed that damn fine red wine.
The DesignMyNight Digest
There are no two ways about it, this was a very special afternoon indeed. We felt festive the moment we entered, and from start to finish, the dishes were impeccable with the service to match. Fun fact: Fred Sirieix used to be general manager here. And put it this way, if you had your first date here, good luck trying to top it for your second. Nothing can actually beat this.
💰 The damage: £75 each for four courses, plus £50 for wine pairing. Excludes service.
📍 The location: 22 Park Lane, Mayfair, London
👌 Perfect for: The most special of date night; think anniversary suppers or a Christmas treat.
⭐ Need to know: Secure a mid-afternoon spot to admire the London skyline by day and night. The special balcony area gets booked up quickly, but it’s well worth it.