Restaurant Review: Galvin at the Athenaeum at The Athenaeum Hotel in London
The Athenaeum Hotel on 116 Piccadilly is a building seeped in history. Originally a luxurious MP’s home in the 1800s to a renowned gentleman’s club through the Victorian era. The building was converted to an Art Deco apartment block in the 1930s and then 40 years later was sold to The Rank Organisation who developed the building into a 5-star hotel, which has long been associated with the rich and famous, including Grace Kelly, Steven Spielberg, Russell Crowe and Take That.
Galvin at The Athenaeum is the hotel’s restaurant from the infamous Galvin brothers, Chris and Jeff. Their impressive restaurant portfolio includes Galvin La Chapelle and Galvin at Windows, to name a few. The menu at Athenaeum steps away from their usual French theme with a modern twist on their classics and they are passionate about supporting independent British farmers by focusing on delicious home-grown produce.
Nelly and I dined there on a hot and sticky evening during the England-Columbia World Cup football match and found the cool tranquil interior of the hotel welcoming. The décor of the hotel is quintessentially Art Deco, whilst the restaurant is modern, with soft lighting, vibrant music and beautiful wooden parquet flooring, leather chairs and statement lights. The restaurant was practically empty (as were the surrounding streets!) but this didn’t detract from the overall atmosphere.
Nelly and I decided to start the evening with a mocktail and they were truly delicious. I had a Bambinone (orange cranberry and elderflower) and Nelly chose a Tropicano (passionfruit, pomegranate, peach and apple). We are both teetotal but there is an impressive wine and Champagne menu to suit all tastes. Whilst we waited for our starters we were brought fresh sourdough bread with Glastonbury farmhouse butter and it was so good we had to ask for more!
Our waiter was wonderful, very attentive and informed us that unfortunately the asparagus and scallops were off the menu as the chefs felt they were not a good enough quality. Disappointing but synonymous to their integrity. I chose Galvin cured smoked salmon, Burford brown egg, sour cream and caviar. This was my favourite dish of the evening, the fish was beautifully smoked, with chopped egg, tart sour cream topped with caviar, pickled onions and rye bread. Nelly chose the dressed Portland crab, Hampshire watercress and rye bread. The dish arrived without any watercress or rye bread (I think this had been put on my plate) and we brought this to the attention of the waiter who was very obliging. The crab was gorgeous, the perfect combination of white and brown meat, topped with chopped egg and paprika and the portion size was very generous.
There was an interesting choice of mains, with pasta, fish, seafood and meats on the grill. I chose Dingley Dell pork eye rib, apricot and harissa mash potatoes – succulent pork on a bed of spiced mash with pea shoots, broad beans and apricots. For me the harissa was a little overpowering and not to my liking and the apricots were al dente, but it was a very interesting dish and one for those who like spice. Nelly opted for Portland crab and lobster linguine, chilli and coriander. The seafood was tasty, but nelly remarked that the dish was a little dry for her taste and could have done with a sauce.
For dessert I chose Porter chocolate sponge, peanut butter mousse and cherry sorbet. The sponge was heavier than I was expecting, a dense brownie texture rather than a sponge, with the lightest peanut butter mousse and soaked cherries and was very satisfying. Nelly felt full, so opted for chocolate ice cream and cherry sorbet – both were delicious, the sorbet was very refreshing and the chocolate dark and creamy.
The Galvin brothers do not disappoint with their sleek and modern menu. Classics mingled with caviar, seafood and grill and the Sunday menu is refreshingly simple with a roast sirloin of beef. For the theatre goers, there is a reasonably priced prix fix menu from 5.30-7pm, with 3 courses for £24.50, which is very competitive for the area.
Their support of UK farmers is heartening and ensures their produce is fresh and of the highest quality. The hotel itself is iconic and a feast for the eyes, with modern art work mixed with geo metric furnishings. A wonderful addition to the Galvin portfolio and I highly recommend a visit.
Address: 116 Piccadilly, Mayfair, London W1J 7BJ / 020 7640 3333