Treat yourself to a wonderful meal from Galvin Brothers
Easter may not have been quite what tradition dictates this year what with festivities being curtailed for the second year in a row. The glum weather didn’t help either. Yet there were silver linings – my garden had burst into a bloom of blossoms and I was invited to review Galvin at Home’s Easter lunch.
A home meal kit from a Michelin starred restaurant is always a treat. Lacking the ambience of the interior of Galvin La Chapelle, the service and their hospitality, the food has to do all the heavy lifting. We eat out for entertainment not only for the quality of the food but alone in our dining rooms or at kitchen tables, the plate has to carry all the pleasure. With Galvin at Home, it really does.
When dining out, I love to nibble on an olive or a chunk of artisan bread while I peruse the menu. A bowl of Nocellara olives and a slice of homemade rosemary focaccia brought that experience home. My husband read through the printed menu that was provided while I checked out the very helpful video tutorials that show Jeff Galvin in his kitchen plating up the dishes.
I have tried out several fine dining home meal kits and they vary quite considerably in time spent and expertise needed in the kitchen. Galvin at Home gets this balance just right. As Jeff comments, they know home cooks don’t have twelve saucepans. Too right! We returned ravenous from a long walk, in inclement conditions, cold and windswept. We wanted lunch, not lengthy cooking. 20 minutes maximum was spent in the kitchen. For three courses. All the work had been done bar the warming through and plating.
The first course was velouté of broad beans, poached duck egg, crispy shallots and pea shoots. The large duck egg was already poached and just needed brief heating in salted boiling water. The soup was all prepped in a pouch while the garnishes were ready and waiting in little pots. I adore soup of all kinds but don’t often make a velouté because it requires too much work. When that work is being done for you by Jeff Galvin’s team that is a different matter. The velouté is the silky cousin to the chunky soups of winter and thus perfect Spring fare.
This was a soup of such gorgeous green that it made me wish it were a pot of paint with which to add a springtime vibe to my living room walls. It was as smooth as single cream with the slightly bitter note of broad bean into which the yolk of the duck egg began to swirl into the chartreuse green. Art in motion. The garnishes were lovely too – crispy shallots added both colour and texture while pea shoots brought yet more crunch and fresh flavour. Simply lovely.
I disappeared briefly into the kitchen to pop the par-cooked lamb rump into a hot oven for 11 minutes. While the meat warmed, I heated the crushed jersey royals and the meat sauce and boiled the purple sprouting broccoli. Roast rump of spring lamb, crushed Jersey Royals and wild garlic pesto was accompanied by a terrific black garlic purée plus a well-reduced meat sauce.
The plate was colourful with pinks and greens. The meat was perfectly timed for medium-rare and fabulously tender. Wild garlic is such a treat in spring. I am a nervous forager so was especially pleased to have it made for me into a pesto. As a spring plate, it could hardly be improved upon – lamb, Jersey royals, wild garlic and purple sprouting broccoli. This is the Easter lunch I would choose to spoil my loved ones but all the better that it was made for me. It looks deceptively simple but all home cooks know that the devil is in the detail – the wonderful sauce that has such depth of flavour from an excellent stockpot, the black garlic purée with its deeply savoury umami, the sharpness of the pesto and the top quality meat. I appreciated the two ways with garlic – the wild garlic and the black garlic – adding such interest to the meal.
Sicilian lemon tart and raspberry meringue brought the meal to a rousing end. Once again, here was a gorgeous, colourful palette. Ruby raspberry coulis with a sunshine yellow lemon tart and delicate mini meringues dusted with raspberry powder. The tart had a delicate pastry filled with a vibrant lemon curd that was just set – it had such a luscious texture that I marvelled at how it had travelled so well. Topped with free-standing meringues, it was a slightly deconstructed lemon meringue of the highest quality. The coulis was tart, the curd sweet and the meringues crispy. The simple beauty of the hot colours compensated for the darkly overcast sky and made me long for the warmer climes of Sicily. That is what a good dish does – it transports.
This was a beautiful end to a meal that danced with colour and flavour, a treat from beginning to end. It was easy to prep with no stress in the kitchen plus an accessible video to assist with plating. There were easy to follow written instructions as well as a full list of allergens for each course.
The delivery was very efficient. I received an email confirming my delivery date and informing me of the timing. On the arranged date, I received a follow-up email with more precise timing and then a text from the driver with the exact time of delivery.
Galvin La Chapelle has long been on my list of restaurants I want to visit in London. Its philosophy of fresh seasonality and French-style cuisine has made it a popular destination restaurant. Soon diners can enjoy returning to its tables. At-home meal kits have helped restaurants weather the Covid lockdowns but have also changed the way that diners want to eat. Sometimes we want the food to come to us, even more so for those who live outside London. I am delighted to read that Jeff and Chris, the Galvin brothers, intend to continue the Galvin at Home experience. Each week Jeff Galvin, Chef Patron, creates a three-course menu to enjoy at home. The price per person is in the range of £60 (£50 for the vegetarian option). Nationwide delivery in England and Wales is available on Fridays and Saturdays or diners can pick up their order from the restaurants in Spitalfields or Chelmsford, Essex. The website has a full list of upcoming menus from which to select.
While the hospitality sector has been especially affected during the lockdowns, it is heartening to learn that ongoing dining at home is set to create tens of thousands of new jobs to meet the growing demand. Research reveals that one-third of the UK population intends to continue to use fine dining at home while 78 per cent of businesses that have used an online sales plan to continue to offer this option post-pandemic.
Cooking the meals is one thing – chefs know how to do this well – but the logistics of transporting thousands of meals around the country is mind-boggling. What Slerp has done is to manage the logistics and technology so that chefs can focus on food, safe in the knowledge that the delivery will be managed efficiently. What makes Slerp different is that their software is designed to integrate seamlessly with the restaurant’s own website. So, when you check out your favourite fine dining restaurant and find they have a dine at home option, it may well be powered by Slerp. They have a wonderful list of restaurants as customers already.
As Jeff Galvin says on a YouTube video focussing on Slerp and Galvin at Home, most chefs are control freaks and with home deliveries, they have to give up control of their food box once it leaves the restaurant. Watching Jeff and his team filling the 1200 boxes lining the tables of Galvin La Chapelle, gives viewers some sense of the huge scale of the meal delivery undertaking. Slerp is experts at logistics, so the chefs can rest assured that the customer will receive their box as the chefs expect. Now I know how the Sicilian lemon tart arrived in such perfect shape. Whether the at-home diner is round the corner in London or further afield in Doncaster, home delivery is here to stay and I for one will raise my glass to that.
To order your own meal from Galvin Brothers just check their website.