Restaurant at the top of The Hilton Park Lane with views overlooking Hyde Park, serving value lunches
Editor’s note: review conducted at time of holding a Michelin star – venue subsequently demoted in the 2020 Michelin guide.
A return to the top of the Hilton Hotel in Park Lane where Galvin at Windows sits overlooking London with its adjoining bar. Regrettably, this visit showed a set menu that was not on par with the rest of its 1 Michelin starred family and multiple aspects made this stand out as a rather lackadaisical affair for this visit. I say this as there was a prolonged wait in the bar as the restaurant was not ready at 1200pm, I was invited after a 10 minute wait in to the restaurant where the staff were still in the middle of receiving reprimands from the floor manager (makes the customer feel awkward), some dishes were not explained during the meal and whilst I’m in favour of staff being able to relax and joke around, the manner of some staff doing this on this occasion gave an impression of thinking that because it was a quiet lunch, this service didn’t somehow matter as much. I have to say, au contraire. For paying customers, staff are on show at all times during any service. As usual, these factors do not affect the overall grade, but these, combined with a genuinely lower stakes lunch menu (see full review) made for a surprisingly disappointing visit.
Unusually for a Michelin starred London-based venue this lunch menu did not start with any canapés or amuse bouche but was a promotional menu for £33 with a complimentary bellini. There was the option to pay a supplement for olives, but frankly this is just over the top when comparing to other Michelin starred venues where you would get these as standard nibbles and complimentary at the likes of The West House, Murano, The Harrow, John’s House, The Mason’s Arms….I could go on. Although the bread was not made on the premises, the brown and white breads were served warm and the white onion bread was very nicely fragranced.
The starter of pork cheek “pot-au-feu” and braised vegetables came with a clear broth and a reasonable flavour. However, whilst I accept this version was in keeping with the classic nature that pot-au-feu is, the broth was a little bland and the dish itself was not hugely exciting for such a venue to be using. The pork was tender and passable but overall, I was confused how this would make it on to the menu when the impact of flavours and visual impact was so low.
The main of corn fed chicken, sautéed mushrooms, caramelised apple and braising jus had a good quality chicken but lacking in the prize which is the skin and a rather missed opportunity. The sauce was very good, but as the dish was not explained, it took a while to try (and therefore confirm) that the piece looking exactly like a potato was actually baked apple covered in the jus (and not used in the jus). Once this was in the mix, the flavour was completely different and it was more pleasing as a result when all parts came together.
The toffee apple terrine made with caramel cream & calvados ice cream was an indulgent dessert, more in keeping with French flare and the biscuit base was very good. The petit fours unfortunately were a little bit of an own goal as they were served in a slightly clumsy manner (not the end of the world but simply not what you expect at a Michelin starred restaurant) with the passion fruit petit fours being far too sweet and the dark chocolate truffles being so thick that they almost welded the jaws together. It’s actually been quite a while since I have pushed petit fours away after one small bite of the different options. Finally, the signature marshmallows came in strawberry and lime flavours. I note that this time they were not in a long, continuous thread, cut with scissors at the table as they once were years ago, but pre-cut in jars – I say this as that is a little bit of a shame as it provided a bit of theatre at the end when cut for the diner and can be more bespoke as well. Again, purely an observation – the actual flavours were fine for the strawberry but actually quite feint for the lime.
So, overall, sadly this was not a brilliant show and certainly a downward trend from my previous, two visits. I’m surprised at the absence of any of either canapés, amuse bouche or pre-dessert and charging for olives as this seems like a savings measure, but having seen how it was, this has a far more negative impact to the diner I would say than the benefits of cut backs (certainly for myself anyway). Whilst there were some good flavours, there were also as many parts, if not more where the flavours were lacking, along with overall flare. The overall environment gave an impression of the restaurant not being ready for this service and it was a shame, as I know that it can simply produce more on the plate and on the floor. Regrettably, this visit simply was not to be one of these occasions. I am sure if I were to come in the evening and do the full-blown tasting menu, the overall experience would be significantly higher, but it is interesting to see how venues fair at the quieter and B-list times as well to get the the broader picture. Perhaps the bar snack menu may have some enjoyable things for next visit, whenever that may be…?
Food Grade: 48%
A very good option for set menu lunch as the menu is very reasonably priced with some genuinely nice flavours of classical French cooking, loaded with pleasant extras, which are always nice to receive. The views are obviously stunning and all in all it is a very safe option for something different, fun and has the added flare of the views and would be highly suitable for lunch catching up with anyone or go to for any evening occasion to celebrate or pre-going out.
The only draw back I have is that if you are wanting a calm, more mature crowd and an absence of any people who come out solely for the evenings (for work or pleasure or both) and you are not in a younger age bracket, my advice would be to avoid here on a Friday or Saturday evening; could be a little too ‘trendy’ for any traditional folk.
Another lovely lunch, another perfectly reasonable option at 1 Michelin level. Perfect for the occasion to catch up over lovely food with the bonus of a nice view and quitter surroundings. Only the two course option this time as a quick lunch required, however, equally as good as the first time.
Food Grade: 79%
A very good option for set menu lunch as the menu is very reasonably priced with some genuinely nice flavours of classical French cooking, loaded with pleasant extras, which are always nice to receive. The views are obviously stunning and all in all it is a very safe option for something different, fun and has the added flare of the views and would be highly suitable for lunch catching up with anyone or go to for any evening occasion to celebrate or pre-going out. The only draw back I have is that if you are wanting a calm, more mature crowd and an absence of any people who come out solely for the evenings (for work or pleasure or both) and you are not in a younger age bracket, my advice would be to avoid here on a Friday or Saturday evening; could be a little too ‘trendy’ for any traditional folk.
Food Grade: 79%
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