The fifth restaurant in the Galvin brothers’ already impressive little empire sees them set up shop in Harrods, with Chris’s wife Sara this time holding the reigns.
As part of what appears to be a concerted effort to attract big culinary names, Harrods follows up Thomas Keller’s mind-blowingly expensive (and mind-blowingly popular) French Laundry pop up of last year with one of the capital’s very best operations, giving the Galvin brothers (and sistah) their own little slice of the food hall. Hugging one of the walls, and with the space judiciously raised so diners can gaze out across all that very fine produce, Demoiselle certainly looks the part, even if it suffers a little from its location – it’s never going to be particularly intimate when the hoi polloi are pottering around the peas and parsnips below. Still, it looks good, with room for sixty covers stretched out via mint leather banquettes, marble tables, flashes of gold and booths for very small bums. A little open kitchen catches the eye before ocular awe settles on Harrods’ own sumptuously intricate ceiling display.
Despite a certain lack of exclusivity, the kind of exemplary service found at Galvins elsewhere remains, with front of house deferring to wonderfully sweet and professional waiting staff once the welcome is done. This will no doubt go down perfectly with the type of clientele Demoiselle seems set up for - ladies of a more mature vintage, perhaps, grabbing a spot of lunch without even a second glance at the hardly democratic prices. But perhaps that’s a disservice; the Galvin brothers’ reputation will certainly draw fans (of which there are many), and the area certainly looks intriguing enough for shoppers of all pockets, palates and persuasions to wander up inquisitively.
The seasonal French menu sounds pretty bistro but there’s certainly plenty of finesse – the flavours may be big and bold but the dainty presentation and more than manageable portions seem well judged, especially for that refined bunch with the little mouths and impeccable breeding. The quality is every bit as good as you’d expect from the Galvins but prices are steep.
There’s a different soup or potage (£9) every day, with Tuesday’s potage of mussels, saffron and curry spices a luxuriously rich and creamy delight with suggestions of spice, rather than anything too vocal. The goat’s cheese salad (£10.50) is just about the prettiest thing in the whole of Harrods, with three little rounds of Golden Cross’s exquisite cheese placed atop slices of brilliant beetroot and blood orange, with edible flowers on the periphery and some very flavoursome walnut oil giving things a bit of depth.
The signature dish, the baked lobster fishcake (£19.50), is pretty substantial and very good, benefiting from generous chunks of lobster and a perimeter of ginger and chive vinaigrette so perfect a bedfellow it’s a shame there’s not quite enough. The lamb’s fez fits thanks to France’s connections with Morocco. This very impressive dish (£19.50) has all the hallmarks of a very fine tajine, with ridiculously tender Cornish lamb nestled amongst soft and sticky apricots in a little Creuset, alongside a colourful tray of couscous flecked with almonds and raisins.
Elsewhere, the menu seems perfectly geared toward flexibility – you can imagine some folk simply popping in for some mille-feuille and a coffee, while others reinvigorate themselves slowly over an imposing tower of afternoon tea. Breakfast is also available for the early birds, even if it is just a light, continental offering of croissants and tartine au beurre.
A short and sweet wine list includes the Galvin’s surprisingly good bubbly (Grande Reserve Brut NV - £11 a glass), alongside six whites and six reds, kicking off with a 2010 Côtes de Gascogne ‘Cuvée Marine’ from Domaine de Ménard at £25. That might be a steep starting point for some but every bottle is available by the glass and the carafe, ensuring that sampling the excellent 2010 Pascal Jolivet Sancerre is perfectly viable – it's every bit worth its £10.50 a glass tag. Harrods’ own perfectly decent lager comes in at an eye-popping £6.50 (for a 450ml bottle), but if you prefer to keep things totally tee then the coffee is really very good indeed, though at £4.25 for an Americano, similarly expensive.
The Last Word
It might be geared toward a different kind of diner but Demoiselle is yet another very impressive operation from restaurateurs who really know their stuff.