Chris and Jeff Galvin have been producing some of this country’s finest French food for the past ten years. It all started in their first restaurant Bistrot de Luxe, which opened in 2005 in London’s Baker Street and is now one of the capital’s great dining destinations.
Galvin at Windows followed this in 2006, gaining its Michelin star in 2010. Galvin La Chapelle opened in 2009 and gained its Michelin star in 2011. The most recent additions to their culinary empire were Galvin Demoiselle in Harrods, in March 2012, and Pompadour by Galvin and Galvin Brasserie de Luxe which both opened in Edinburgh in September 2012. The brothers' other restaurant, Café a Vin, first opened in 2009 but was refurbished and relaunched as a pub in January 2016.
Their restaurants all offer high-quality French cuisine served in luxurious surroundings. Family hospitality is key to the Galvin brothers’ appeal, and warm, professional service is a common theme.
Their food is ingredient-led, with simplicity, passion and seasonality central to their cookery – 'the best ingredients we can find, treated simply,' says Chris.
This attitude led to them championing cheaper cuts of meat (before it was trendy), even to them sleeping in their first restaurant to ensure they had access to the best produce, the moment it was available. They travel all over England and France, buying direct, and have even created an annual award to recognise their prized and respected producers and suppliers.
Years of building relationships with these suppliers and market workers means they are not only well placed to get the first of the season’s bounty, but can also take advantage of any over-supply – even if this means processing five huge pallets of collapsingly-ripe strawberries that arrive unexpectedly on the doorstep.
This frugality is driven by a key tenet of the brothers’ ethos – affordability and the democratisation of food. An admirable drive to ensure that fine experiences are available to as many people as possible. No one is treated any differently in their restaurants – from the customer who just fancies dessert to those regulars who have returned hundreds of times.
And return they do for those dishes that have made the brothers famous. From their signature Lasagne of Dorset crab – rich and decadent with a surprising pillowy lightness, to their Soupe de poisson, served with a silky rouille and some excellent Gruyère. On the sweet side, their unpretentious and deceptively simple Apple tarte tatin delights diners again and again, while their classic Crêpes Suzette never fails to please.
Growing up in a single-parent family in Essex, it was economical imperative that led Chris (twelve years older than his brother Jeff) to knock on the door of small neighbourhood restaurant, The Old Log, looking for work. But it was here he found his first mentor – Anthony Worral Thompson – who piqued Chris’ interest in the creative, modern food he was experimenting with at the time.