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Galoupet, London SW3, restaurant review


Galoupet is a new Knightsbridge restaurant where the food is as elegant as the decor and clientele. But is this a good thing?

Galoupet 13 Beauchamp Place, London SW3 1NQ
Contact: 020 7036 3600
Price: Four plates: £30.75

Galoupet is perfectly pitched: its clean, white lines, highly designed white seating and artfully lit tilted mirrors may not add up to a place you’d linger in for hours, but it’s designed for its environs. It is made for the Knightsbridge shopper.

Everything, from the jazzy Enomatic wine system (you charge up a card, then serve yourself 25ml at a time. It’s like an Oyster card, only with booze) to the discreetly lo-cal menu, is all tailored to the ‘hood. I say that with admiration: it may not be my cup of tea, but it is one delicious cup of tea.

Seasonal dip (£3.50) was carrot with fennel fronds and an orange-coloured, salty crispbread on the side that had both crunch and chew. B thought it was related to the Italian flatbread piadina, but I am used to him showing off. What I am not used to is a simple, ‘This is really good.’

Bass notes of olive oil underscored the sweetness of the carrot. Flashes of fennel greenery delivered the ‘what feels right for the time of year’ freshness that the menu (slightly hammily) promises. But don’t listen to me griping about menu rhetoric; this was good.
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Heritage tomatoes (£5), beautifully hued from bright red to a tortoisey green, came with shiso, that Japanese leaf that looks like magnified mint and tastes exactly like itself and nothing else. A red-pepper dressing was exquisitely done, tiny pieces snipped to near oblivion, full of flavour.

There followed (it’s a tapas-style arrangement, although you can order the dishes in larger sizes and just approach them traditionally, like starters and mains) some corn-crusted aubergine (£6).

You know how there are inhabitants of the Far East who lack the enzyme to process alcohol? I think I lack the enzyme to process corn. It never tastes of anything, particularly in this finely ground form.

The aubergine pieces were arranged as triangles, like squishy Doritos. The texture of the vegetable worked well with the crunch of the crust, but, as flavours, they didn’t do a lot for one another, both being too mild. However, there was a great goat’s curd on the side, along with a tangy, star-anisey tomato chutney, which lifted the affair to something much more stylish and moreish.

Of the two fish dishes, the octopus (£9.50) was superior. It arrived underneath some minced kohlrabi, with some more judiciously applied fennel, and the whole thing… seriously, I can’t even explain the perfection. Something to do with the chewiness of the octopus, set against the near-purée of the kohlrabi, both flavours distinctive but self-effacing – as an ensemble it was glorious. Sea trout with citrus fruits and wood sorrel (£11) was pretty good, but not as much of an event.

The lamb (£11) came with chilli-pickled fennel, and the phrase ‘job lot’ sprung to mind, but, frankly, I respect that. A load of incredibly flavourful fresh fennel comes in – why not use it in every other dish? High-quality meat, never too lean but not at all fatty, simply presented, letting the pickle flavours do the work, singing out with pure lambiness.

I loved this dish, and I also loved a pork ‘rib eye’ (£11.50), a fusiony affair in which the pork had been spice-rubbed to an almost Cajun sensibility, while the salad had been subtly doused in nam pla fish sauce and tasted Thai.

A heap of madeleines in hazelnut, lemon and lavender flavours (£5) was dainty but generous. I don’t believe in putting lavender in food, but B said it was nice. The lemon were amazing. His pistachio, vanilla and olive oil cake (£6.50) was nutty and eggy, with that gorgeous light-yet-dense crumb that is the conundrum of the olive oil cake.

I’m not in love with this place – it’s a bit too neat and careful – but I was charmed by it.


Cafe Mauresque 8 Butchery Lane, Canterbury (01227 464300)

Regulars love the downstairs room for its elaborate Moorish decoration. Spicy merguez sausages (£4.50), squid and chorizo brochettes (£5.50) and aubergines cooked in red wine (£4.50) all make good grazing partners.

Hummingbird Kitchen Stainbeck Corner, Harrogate Road, Chapel Allerton, West Yorkshire (0113 307 0111)

A new opening that’s causing a buzz with its starter-sized dishes. Salt-and-pepper squid arrives in a mini frying-basket (£4.95), while grilled sardines are scattered with pretty heirloom tomatoes (£4.95)

Cafe Ikon 1 Oozells Square, Brindleyplace, Birmingham (0121 248 3226)

A sharing platter of Spanish meats and olives (£13.50) is the perfect start to a menu of Spanish nibbles. Continue with honey-roasted vegetables, including the chef’s home-grown kohlrabi (£5.50) and patatas bravas (£3.50)

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