Overall ranking: 52 (70)
Chef ranking: 9 (8)
Chris and Jeff Galvin - Snapshot
Chris and his younger brother Jeff Galvin are the chefs with a Michelin-starred past, whose first venture – Galvin Bistrot de Luxe - was one of London’s most eagerly awaited openings last year. The 90-seat restaurant off Baker Street opened its doors in September 2005.
Chris also doubles as the chef-patron of the new 106-seat restaurant and 98-seat bar, Windows at the London Hilton on Park Lane. This joint venture with Hilton opened on the hotel’s 28th floor in May 2006 after a £1.5m refurbishment.
Chris and Jeff Galvin - Career guide
Chris Galvin was born in 1958 and his early career embraced a local restaurant under Antony Worrall Thompson, the Ritz hotel and Inigo Jones in London, and Worrall-Thompson’s Ménage à Trois in Knightstbridge, which Galvin launched as head chef in the late 1980s.
Chris gained further experience at Michelin-star restaurants in France and at L’Escargot and the Lanesborough hotel in London. He joined Conran Restaurants in 1995 as head chef of Mezzo, where he also helped launch Bluebird in 1997. The same year he became chef-patron of its new Orrery restaurant where he won the group its first and only Michelin star in 2000 and oversaw the 2001 launch of Almeida.
He was promoted to chef-director for the Conran Restaurants group in December 2002. In August 2003, he moved on to become executive chef of Jeremy King and Chris Corbin’s eagerly-anticipated new London restaurant, the Wolseley.
Jeff Galvin, who was born 1970, cut his teeth in London at the Savoy hotel (under Anton Edelman) and the Michelin-star Capital hotel before joining Chez Nico at 90 Park Lane in 1994 where, as sous chef, he helped win the restaurant’s third Michelin star.
Jeff took his first head chef jobs at The Greenhouse and at Marco Pierre White’s three Michelin-star Oak Room. In May 2000 he became executive chef of White’s L’Escargot, where he held a Michelin star for five years.
Chris and Jeff Galvin - What we think
The Galvin’s impeccable pedigree (Chris is one of an elect band of chefs to hold a BSc degree in international culinary arts) had the reviewers salivating long before Galvin Bistrot de Luxe opened its doors – and they were not disappointed.
Instead of seeking to woo the Michelin inspectors, the brothers decided to open a contemporary Parisian-style bistro inspired by the “bistrot moderne” movement in France.
“In the mid-1990s, the recession in France meant none of the senior chefs in the top hotels and restaurants were moving on, so many of their sous chefs started getting frustrated. They began buying up little bistros and cooking simple, fabulous food in them – offering a small choice and incredible value to diners. That’s what we wanted to do here,” Chris explained to Caterer.
The restaurant serves beautifully crafted, unfussy French classics at strikingly affordable prices (less than £40 for three-course a la carte menus and less than £20 for three-course set lunches and dinners) was an instant success with the critics and the dining public.
“Galvin is the archetypal must-see, hot-ticket, best-seat-in-the-house gig of the season. The menu is a hymn to French tradition,” enthused Marina O’Loughlin at London's Metro while the Daily Telegraph’s Jan Moir described the prices as “remarkably ungreedy for central London, verging on the sensational.”
Galvin Bistrot de Luxe scooped the Square Meal Best New Restaurant award within a month of opening and, in 2006, was the Catey Newcomer of the Year and Tatler’s Best Newcomer. It is regularly packed out, serving 80 covers at lunch times and 110 in the evenings.
Yet the venture’s success was by no means assured as the brothers drew heavily upon their own savings and borrowed up to the hilt to get it off the ground. They chose a site (the short-lived Anda restaurant) in an unfashionable thoroughfare where even leading restaurateur Alan Yau had thrown in the towel.
The Galvins have achieved their stunning price points by sourcing directly from suppliers in Paris’ Rungis market and choosing cheaper, less fashionable cuts of meat such as shoulders and necks (rather than fillets and sirloins) without sacrificing flavour. They only buy ingredients at the height of the season, when they are cheapest.
Chris’s mentoring skills at Conran won him enormous respect from his peers and his protégé at Orrery, head chef André Garret, now heads up the new Hilton restaurant.
Chris and Jeff Galvin – Further information