Sabi Phagura heads to the Athenaeum Hotel, London’s legendary gathering place of the rich and famous to sample and review the current menu at the Galvin at The Athenaeum.
Galvin at The Athenaeum is the hotel’s restaurant headed by Michelin-starred London chefs Chris and Jeff Galvin. In a bold move, the brothers have stepped away from their trademark French-inspired menus in favour of championing Britain’s delicious homegrown produce and supporting independent farmers across the UK.
They execute an array of menus from private dining to afternoon tea. But it was their modern take on classic British dishes that Sabi Phagura was most interested in during her recent visit.
The restaurant is housed on the ground floor of the hotel which overlooks Green Park in London, making it very convenient for visitors from Mayfair, St James and Knightsbridge. It’s winter, so I didn’t take advantage of having a drink sat outside on its spacious pavement terrace watching the world go by, but I can just imagine how wonderful it must be on a summer’s day overlooking the aforementioned park.
As expected from a five-star hotel, there are lots going on in the lobby, but it became calmer from the moment we entered the restaurant. Its design is sleek yet laid back and not at all overbearing. Crowds of families, couples and friends made up the mix of diners here on this particular evening.
The menu here is spot on when catering for all budgets. You can have a burger for £12 or caviar for £170, or a range of excellent, decently-priced brasserie dishes. There’s also a Galvin Classics section where you can find both options for starters and main courses. Meanwhile, wine connoisseurs can have their fill trying the ‘tap’ wines which, the waiting staff are eager to explain how they are kept.
Both Richard and I opted for a light starter from the salad and soup menu because we had already eyed up our hefty main courses. It’s all about the balance after all. It was the parsnip and cider soup with pickled apple for him (£8.00) and the chargrilled vegetables, beetroot, toasted grains and seeds for me (£7.50). Just the right portion size, the vegetables were not too greasy and I was suitably ready for the main.
It’s been years since I have had a burger, but the Yellowfin Tuna burger with Asian sesame slaw and avocado (£21.50) was simply calling out to me. And I’m glad I listened. The tuna was cooked just right, it tasted super tasty and rather healthy, minus the chips which I helped myself to from Richard’s plate of Rose county beef rib eye (£28.00). They were home cooked and chunky, just the way they should be in my humble opinion.
Again, bucking the trend when it comes to desserts, I decided to have the selection of English cheeses, grapes and celery (£12.50) instead of something sweet. It rounded the meal off perfectly and made for a rare occasion of being satisfied without being too full when dining out. Mind you, it’s a problem easily solved with a lovely walk in Green Park just across the road.