Finding myself in the City by Spitalfields Market before a client meeting with about 35 minutes before I was due to arrive, I popped into Galvin HOP with a challenge: can you serve a two-course lunch within a window of 20-25 minutes? I was surprised, delighted and a little incredulous when they said yes.
I was seated in their tastefully colourful dining area and quickly ordered a starter and main from their prix fixe menu (2 courses for 19.95 GBP), although I was informed that anything I ordered would have come out just as quickly. I believe them too: I was seated at an angle from which I could see into their kitchen area and – aside from being pleased to see it so clean and orderly – it was obvious that food was fresh and made to order. The influence of their Michelin-starred chefs was on display in everything from the way the chefs handled their food to the way they ran operationally (observable even from my angle).
I also observed that they had at a corner of the restaurant a charcuterie slicing machine, and that their charcuterie is cut fresh. Had I not been in a rush and seen this before, I might have been tempted with a charcuterie board instead…
Not long after I placed my order, my water was brought to the table. I really appreciated that they left me the jug on the table: it’s not as much of a regular occurrence as it should be. Shortly after my soup spoon was brought to be on a dish, on top of a cloth napkin, with all the formality of a fine dining experience. These details are not lost on me.
I had chosen cauliflower soup as a starter, thinking I had opted for healthy choice. It hardly felt like a dietary sacrifice once it arrived: this beautiful bowl of creamy, tasty soup topped with crunchy, flavourful croutons and a delicate drizzle of olive oil tasted like a decadent treat. There was a healthy salt quantity which I’m sure made it seem that much tastier, but had I been at home I think I might have licked the bowl. It was wonderful.
For my main, I had ordered the teriyaki mackerel – and, as I’m not a fan of anything pickled, I asked them to improvise and replace the pickled cucumber with something else. They delivered a delicious dish of food: the mackerel was perfectly cooked and tasted of that uniquely sweet and sour flavour that is uniquely teriyaki; the lentil and diced vegetables were beautifully cooked to the right texture. It was a delight to eat.
As, in my haste, I asked for the bill to arrive with my main course, I was in and out the door in, amazingly, 20 minutes. That I can get this calibre of food in twenty minutes’ time is incredible: they redefine ‘fast food’ in an entirely new and pleasant way. Had I known in advance, I dare say I would have been tempted to order dessert! I’m sure it helped that I arrived early before the lunch rush, but it’s impressive nonetheless.
If I have to nit-pick, the size of the main could have been bigger… but otherwise I don’t think I can find a drawback. And by eating light I probably avoided the post-lunch drowsiness that would have made my client meeting ineffective. It was a surprisingly fantastic lunch and would gladly return again.
*Calories: I have estimated the full meal of soup and mackerel at approximately 600 calories – mainly because of how rich and creamy the soup was.
Food taste: 4 / 5 (Delicious- especially the soup)
Food/table presentation: 4 / 5 (simple but clean and considered plating)
Service: 4 / 5 (amiable but formally precise, and speedy of course)
Atmosphere/decor: 4 / 5 (Not bad at all for a cafe’/bar – and they have outdoor space as well)
Value for money: 3 / 5 (higher than the local competition, except for few exceptions like their sister Michelin-starred restaurant Galvin La Chapelle around the corner, but it’s at a higher standard than the average local competitors)
Overall rating: 3.8 / 5