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Friday 4 March 2016

Galvin HOP - Pub Grub with Knobs On!

Name: Galvin HOP

Where: 35 Spital Square, London, E1 6DY, https://www.galvinrestaurants.com/section/62/1/galvinhop

Cost: Starters cost from £6 to £10.50. Main courses range from £7 to £19, with desserts priced at £4 to £8. The average cost per person is around £30 excluding drinks.

About: Brothers Chris and Jeff Galvin, well known for Galvin La Chapelle next door as well as well 5 other Galvin restaurants across London and 2 in Edinburgh, launched Galvin HOP in January 2016.

With their background in successful Michelin-starred restaurants over many years, this venue represents a foray into the more casual though upmarket pub offering. The Galvin 'Pub Deluxe' (which descriptor they prefer to somewhat jaded label of 'gastropub'), is situated on the site of the former Galvin Cafe à Vin in Spitalfields Market, a stone’s throw from Liverpool Street Station.  It is a traditional pub where you can stand or sit at the bar and enjoy a pint, but with the option of some seriously good food.

The pub has a stone-coloured floor, with cream and green wall tiles, and two environments - one a darker, traditional pub-style room, the other a conservatory with a flat plate-glass roof. There is also a heated, covered outdoor area to smoke or for City types to enjoy a Havana cigar from the thermidor. On the Sunday lunchtime we were there, the place was packed with a mix of families, tourists and Spitalfields Market shoppers.

Galvin HOP is an innovative partnership between the Galvin brothers, Pilsner Urquell, and Maille, the French mustard maker. Urquell comes from Plzen in the Czech Republic, where the company has been making beer since 1842, and the recipe has not changed since then. Galvan HOP has four huge copper tanks containing unpasteurised Pilsner Urquell over the bar, filled by weekly deliveries from the Czech Republic. 

Maille is a premium French mustard brand founded in 1747, and well known for its fine Dijon and wholegrain mustards made with Chablis Premier Cru vinegar. The menu at Galvin HOP offers classic pub dishes and a range of premium hot dogs. Uniquely, it has a professional hot-dog station by the entrance, so people can eat in or take away. The 'Luxe Dog' is a range of gourmet hot dogs served with Maille's seasonal mustard.

What We Ate: I was lucky to have a chat before lunch with the Sous-Chef Chris Barrett, who showed me around the spankingly new kitchen. He suggested a range of dishes he felt I should not miss. We started with an appetizer of tarte flambée (£8.50) - a lovely wafer-thin and crisp base, topped with crème fraiche and smoky Alsatian lardons baked in their state of the art wood oven.

Next came a mixed platter - Galvin gala pie (£7.50), Cumbrian sausage roll (£3) and steak tartare with toasted sourdough bread (£8). The gala pie had traditional water pastry made with hot water, flour and beef fat, with a filling of minced pork, kidney and liver, herbs and a hard-boiled Clarence Court egg, all topped with a jelly of Marmite and pork stock. It had a fine crust of crisp pastry, and a richly flavoured, not too offal-laden filling. If like me you have reservations about meat and kidney pies, this is definitely a dish to try at Galvin HOP – it will change your mind I’m sure.

The sausage rolls were light with deliciously buttery pastry and a flavoursome filling. It was a delight to see this pedestrian British snack given the Galvin treatment, generously brushed with Maille truffle mustard. 

For me, steak tartare is always a good way to judge a restaurant, in addition to being one of my favourite things to eat – highlighting freshness of ingredients, seasoning and presentation. Galvan HOP's version had hand-chopped fresh, good-quality beef, well-seasoned with herbs and caperberries and served with crisp toasted sourdough. I very much enjoyed it.    

There are three hot dog options on the menu, and we went for the Galvin Dog Deluxe with a portion of straw chips (£8.10). This had a Frankfurter sausage made from beef and pork, and a choucroute of white cabbage and carrot, topped with crispy shallots and Maille truffle mustard, all served in a soft bun made in-house from potato flour. I loved the choucroute, an unusual but delicious Alsatian addition to the hot dog, which added freshness and acidity. The bun, though delicious, was a tad too soft and did not hold it all together, so I resorted to knife and fork.

The Galvin HOP's fish pie deluxe (£17), served with a side of glazed carrots and peas, was filled with smoked haddock, prawns, scallop, and salmon, topped with mashed potato and Pecorino cheese. With a rich, creamy and cheesy sauce, this fish pie was delicious and as good as it gets.

But what about Galvin HOP’s Sunday Roast? On the day we visited, we tried the Brisket Beef Sunday Roast with all the trimmings, including Yorkshire pudding, cabbage, roast potatoes, parsnips and carrots (£16). Cured in salt, then slow roasted for 18 hours, this was a super-tender and well-flavoured piece of beef. The meat was thoroughly cooked, with no pinkness (as would be expected from cured beef), which I thought detracted from its appearance. 

For dessert, being rhubarb season, I ordered the Yorkshire rhubarb doughnut (£4) - this was light and fluffy, and I just wish I had had room for more.

What We Drank: The Galvin brothers and Pilsner Urquell are collaborating at Galvin HOP, and the latter’s unpasteurised draft beer features on the menu at £5.50 per pint. Bottled beers cost from £4 to £4.50, including St Peter's Old Style Porter and Lindemans Kriek cherry beer. Wines are available on tap by the glass, at £4.50 to £6.80. By the bottle, the entry level white is a Languedoc blend of Grenache Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc and Ugni Blanc (£18.50), with the red being a Tannat/Syrah blend from Gascogne (£23).

We started with a half pint of unpasteurised draught Pilsner Urquell (£4), which was a classic clean, refreshing beer. We then tried the Roosters Fort Smith American Pale Ale, from Knaresborough, UK (£4) - served from a can, it had a wonderful aroma of hops and a rich, complex flavour. The Adnams Broadside English Strong Ale (£4.50) was a rich, dark beer with chocolate and coffee notes.

Likes: The Gala pie, the steak tartare and the fish pie were stand-out dishes for me. The opportunity to drink fresh, unpasteurised Pilsner Urquell is a rare one, and there is a small but delicious range of craft beers. Super friendly service.

Dislikes: None.

Verdict: The newly opened Galvin HOP is a great option for top quality pub grub, gourmet hot dogs, unpasteurised Pilsner and craft beers. Conveniently located whether for a quick City lunch or a more leisurely Sunday roast for weekend shoppers at nearby Spitalfield Market, it ticks all the boxes. Recommended.

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