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The Michelin-starred restaurant atop the London Hilton on Park Lane impresses with its new Saturday brunch menu
You might be thinking brunch is an American thing, but it was actually invented back in 1895 when British writer Guy Beringer pleaded for a new meal, a mixture of breakfast and lunch. The brunch idea caught on big in the USA before enjoying a revival here in more recent years.
Now the renaissance continues at Galvin at Windows, as Head Chef Joo Won takes brunch classics prepared to Michelin-starred perfection with the finest ingredients and, inspired by his Korean background, adds dishes you won’t find anywhere else.
On the top floor of the London Hilton on Park Lane, the restaurant is light, bright and airy, comfortably stylish and modern with a relaxing atmosphere. The background sound is a happy, chatty murmur of contented diners.
The views really set Galvin at Windows apart from other high-quality restaurants and from the hotel’s 28th floor you not only get a full 360-degree sweep around London’s horizon but also a birds’ eye view into more intimate spaces – including the back garden of Buckingham Palace.
Guy Beringer wrote that for those out late carousing the night away, a later meal than breakfast would make the next day easier to bear. So if that’s you (and you can take your eyes off the Queen’s flower beds), on the drinks menu you will find a fine selection of cocktails and smoothies to soothe you.
The Galvin Mary (Absolut vodka, tomato juice, cucumber, spices) was perfectly spiced with enough heat to burn off a hangover, while the Revitalising (Absolut vodka, cucumber juice, elderflower cordial, strawberry syrup, Franklin and Son’s ginger ale) was thirst quenching. The Reviver smoothie (mango, cucumber, apple and vanilla syrup) was a light and refreshing mix.
As for food, some might see it as more of a lunch than a brunch menu – service starts at noon and there is such a wide variety of dishes to choose from. So you might well need more than one drink while you work out the best combinations. Or as we did, you could just rely on the very helpful and friendly Sarah to provide the necessary navigation.
Passing over the pastries, soup and Caesar salads, to start us off we went for something from the deliciously healthy Raw and Cured section and from the Sourdough Toasts. From the former, the Kombu cured salmon, nori mayonnaise and pickled ginger was sublime: soft salmon cured with kelp accompanied by more sea flavours from the smooth nori while ginger provided a bit of crunch and heat. From the latter, Cervelle De Canut (Fromage blanc delicately seasoned with chopped herbs) and soft avocado slices were arranged on a base of sourdough toast, with tiny slivers of orange and lemon.
The lunchy part of the menu offers vegetarian, fish, chicken, beef and lamb dishes (plus a burger for the really unadventurous) as main courses. More importantly, the brunchy bit includes traditional egg and muffin dishes, Eggs Benedict, Royal and Florentine but adds a dash of decadent creativity in Merguez sausage, boiled egg with harissa cream and Eggs Deluxe (tempura lobster tail, egg, Hollandaise sauce) which was delicate with a light crunch.
The Full English Breakfast (FEB) is one of Britain’s culinary gifts to the world. Done well, it’s an awesome thing and Joo’s Super Breakfast is the absolute star of the brunch show. I doubt you will ever eat a FEB as good to look at or as memorably delicious.
The five elements (polenta, Burford brown eggs, maple-cured rib eye bacon, stir-fried chilli oyster mushrooms and Anne Rose black pudding) are individually superb straight off the plate but the real pleasure comes from combining them on the fork – the polenta was soft and creamy and beautifully complemented the sweetly smoky bacon, while the spicy mushrooms gave it a lovely zing. As someone who expects to see it on every breakfast menu, I really enjoyed the black pudding, which was soft and tasty.
Dessert options included buttermilk pannacotta with fig and honey and a banana split with ice cream and chocolate, but the Paris Brest with hazelnut cream and chocolate sauce was the right choice. Invented to commemorate a bicycle race, Paris Brest at Galvin at Windows comes in a wheel of patisserie heaven from which your individual choux bun is carved. With a bit of ice cream and some lovely chocolate sauce, it was yet another delicious dish. The choux pastry was soft, of course, but a craquelin coating provided a little bit of crunch, and the sauce was a chocolate dream.
Back in 1895 Guy Beringer wrote, ”Brunch …. puts you in a good temper, it makes you satisfied with yourself and your fellow beings, it sweeps away the worries and cobwebs of the week.” He was right then and absolutely right now – our brunch at Galvin at Windows certainly did all that and more.
For a Michelin-starred experience, it was not prohibitively expensive: Joo’s Super Breakfast costs £22, the eggs £14 to £18 (with the Deluxe at £29) and cocktails £15, more than worth it for that special occasion.
And don’t forget – the views are free.
Galvin at Windows
22 Park Lane
Tel: 020 7208 4021
For a different style of Galvin Brothers Brunch try Galvin Hop in Spitalfields – with a bottomless option and Pilsner Urquell on tap.