Surrey’s Premier Lifestyle Magazine

My month in food

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Stephanie Brookes, foodie expert and BBC Radio London contributor, offers her pick of an eating establishment for this month, Galvin at The Athenaeum in Mayfair.

Prix fixe menus have become the norm in most restaurants throughout London, which offers both a positive and more inclusive culinary option, but also might give diners a moment of pause. While the prices can be competitive, there is often concern that quality will be lacking, however, with such fierce competition among restaurants, it has become a decidedly popular choice and one certainly worth exploring.

I also think there’s something a little comforting about a prix fixe menu: there’s a smaller choice of options making it easier for the undecided patron such as myself. It’s also sometimes a relief for the restaurant to make those crucial decisions for you. And you certainly know you’re in safe hands at Galvin at The Athenaeum, as the name itself is synonymous with a wealth of culinary experience. The restaurant is the creation of chef-restaurateurs Chris and Jeff Galvin of the eponymous Galvin at Windows in nearby Park Lane. The restaurant is also front and centre of this five-star luxury Mayfair hotel, which adds to a certain flurry of excitement and activity as guests mingle about the main foyer; yet, the restaurant itself hits just the right note with its relaxed, easy-going charm.

The prix fixe menu offers three courses and also allows a little flexibility as the sweet course has unlimited access to the dessert buffet (always music to my ears).
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Galvin at The Athenaeum - Photo copyright: Stephanie Brookes
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I began with a starter of Lasagne of Dorset crab and Nantais butter sauce – an altogether beautiful piece of culinary construction. As the fork pierced the delicate pasta layers, the crabmeat and pasta gently oozed into the soft, buttery puddle. When pasta is so thin and delicate it often has a tendency to become soggy very quickly, but the layers retained their bite, even when submerged in the mellow, butter emulsion. The waiter had noticed my obvious glee at the dish and mentioned that a guest had enjoyed it so much he proceeded to order it a second time as a main course. I think they should definitely consider giving this gem of a starter an upgrade as I would have quite happily devoured another, larger portion of this divine seafood pasta.

Chicken ‘saltimbocca’, polenta and grilled treviso was an instant hit at the table, not least for its Instagram-worthy aesthetics – photos were promptly taken at every conceivable angle. I do realise the current trend for food photos in restaurants can certainly distract from the focal point of the actual eating, not least because the dish is obviously getting cold. Yet, on first bite, nothing was seemingly lost as the chicken simply melted in the mouth with that delightfully crisp, yet chewy prosciutto casing. I was initially wary about ordering this dish as chicken breast is more often than not slightly overcooked, even in the safest of culinary hands, thankfully, each mouthful was moreish and velvety soft. The base of polenta was an unctuous, golden mound which I slathered on to each piece of the chicken. The additional contrast of the slightly bitter, lemon notes of the treviso made for a complex mouthful.
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Following the two rather splendid savoury courses, I was quite looking forward to stretching my legs over to the dessert buffet: there’s something quite exciting about ‘helping yourself’ to anything in endless rounds. Although in the refined surrounds of The Athenaeum, I felt it best not to pile it high and rather err on the side of restraint. I placed two miniature, blood orange cheesecakes, gleaming with their glossy jelly outer layers, on to a delicate little plate and felt I had become the buffet equivalent of a food martyr. However, once I took a bite of the creamy, feather-light cream cheese filling, I did regret my original instinct at not having filled the plate to capacity. It wasn’t long until I had a change of heart and did eventually go back for ‘seconds’ – most definitely the right choice.
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Chicken ‘saltimbocca’, polenta and grilled treviso - Photo copyright: Stephanie Brookes
If the notion of a prix fixe menu has you thinking of mass-produced vats of food that are nothing more than a watered-down version of à la carte, this particular restaurant will surely make you think again. Galvin at The Athenaeum’s laidback charm and attention to detail will have diners seriously considering this cost-effective dining option as enticing as its pricier counterpart.
essence info
Galvin at The Athenaeum
116 Piccadilly, Mayfair, London W1J 7BJ
Websites: and
Telephone: 020 7640 3333
Three courses and unlimited dessert buffet: £37.50
Instagram: @galvinrestaurants