Bistrot de Luxe was the first solo venture of chef brothers Jeff and Chris Galvin who opened the restaurant in 2005, following long careers in Michelin-starred restaurants and hotels. Since then, the restaurant has consistently delivered the kind of elegant but understated French bistro experience for which the brothers are now well-known: quality French cuisine, using the very best seasonal ingredients, at affordable prices.
Serving the locality was absolutely central to the brothers’ plans when opening the restaurant – a desire to bring something to an area which, although a short distance from fashionable Marylebone, was more used to dim sum restaurants and chains than fine dining. This drive to make what the locals actually wanted to eat saw them rewarded with overnight success, hailed by food critics and customers alike, with queues snaking out the door and around the corner (before that was fashionable). The champagne they offered to the waiting queue both placated customers and attracted new queue members keen for a little bubbly!
Their aim when opening this restaurant was to still be in business in ten years time, to strive for longevity in a market used to seeing new restaurants and concepts come and go with dizzying speed. They wanted their bistro to become a London institution – and become an institution it has.
Following the success of Bistrot de Luxe, the Galvins opened six more restaurants across London and Edinburgh, but that isn't to say they've taken their eye off of this flagship location. In fact, Bistrot de Luxe just keeps getting better. Here, the brothers have achieved a distinctly bistro vibe - think crisp white table cloths, rich wood-panelled walls, leather banquettes, antique mirrors and fine upholstery - with a superb atmosphere.
But it's the food that has helped Bistrot de Luxe stand the test of time. The menu at the bistro is short but very sweet, with lunch and dinner prix fixe menus as well as à la carte, and dishes like Caramelised Veal Brains with Capers and Beurre Noisette and Tournedos of Angus Beef with Dauphinoise Potatoes. Their signature dessert is Tarte Tatin, and what better way to show off British ingredients than in this distinctly French dish? Picture a generous tart full of chunky, caramelised apples encased in buttery pastry, perfectly complemented with a delicate quenelle of créme fraîche.
The food and experience at Bistrot de Luxe is so true to the bistro style that some have claimed that the Galvin brothers have beaten the French at their own game, turning out dishes that are often many times better than their French equivalents. Whether this is true is a matter of personal opinion, but there's no denying that it spearheaded a new fashion for bistro cuisine in London and across Britain, and has continued to raise the bar since it first opened its doors.