Galvin HOP in Spitalfields: Hearty, ethically sourced dishes that taste as good as they look
Galvin HOP, a modern-day bistro and bar, can be found on Spital Square right next door to Michelin-starred Galvin La Chapelle. Despite the close proximity to its sister restaurant, the former tells an entirely different story. Inspired by the trendy bistro resurgence, it successfully encapsulates the café culture ambience that is often found in European cities. The interior is decked out with exposed brick walls, granite counters and soft lighting topped off with huge copper tanks hanging above the bar where they serve brewery-fresh Czech Pilsner. With the weather on our side, we decided to sit on the terrace and were joined by groups of post-work diners hoping to enjoy a bit of al fresco dining.
Whether it’s just a leisurely drink you’re after, or something to whet your appetite, the focus seems to be on beer and wine. There’s a large selection by the bottle and a few available on tap which can be enjoyed by the glass. For food, you can choose between set menus, bar snacks or à la carte, making this the perfect spot to either grab a drink and a bite or sit down for an evening meal.
To start we had the charcuterie board. This came with a variety of meats, delicious pork rillettes and several farmhouse cheeses served with chutney, pickles and Normandy butter. These platters are ideal for sharing and many other diners obviously had the same idea, often accompanying their order with a side of French fries (which are excellent, by the way).
For the main, we opted for the Skate au Beurre Noir with Pomme Purée – a classic bistro dish and a tricky one to execute. The skate was beautifully tender and soft, giving way to an unmistakable texture and taste. The black butter sauce managed to provide some full-bodied depth to the plate without overpowering the flavour of the fish, and the crunch from the croutons provided the perfect finish. An excellent offering that managed to live up to its impressive presentation.
We also tried the Suckling Pig Belly with Smoked Mash, Shallots and PX Jus. The chefs really mastered the crunchy crackling without compromising on the meat or making it overly fatty. The smokiness from the mash really came through and added another delicious layer of flavour to the dish.
For dessert we had the pannacotta, which was almost custard-like in consistency and paired with tart raspberries and a dash of grappa. This was a clear winner for me. We also tasted the Valrhona Chocolate Marquise. The marquis was fabulously dense and rich and counterbalanced with a cooling menthol-fresh scoop of mint ice-cream.
While it was hard to pin down the cuisine (the menu seems to draw from French, Italian and Spanish culture), the food was nothing short of excellent. Hearty portions, ethically harvested ingredients and classic bistro dishes that were executed in style. The terrace was also a bonus feature and with the long, hot summer approaching (fingers crossed), Galvin HOP should be top of your list.
★★★★★Food ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮Drinks ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮Service ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮
Alex Julie Woods
Photos: Cristiana Ferrauti
To book a table at Galvin HOP, 35 Spital Square London E1 6DY, call 020 7299 0404 or visit their website here.