The Galvin brothers’ empire now includes (in order of opening) Galvin Bistrot de Luxe (a benchmark for bistros, in Marylebone); Galvin at Windows (haute cuisine, with views from the 28th floor of the Park Lane Hilton); and Galvin La Chapelle (the beautiful refashioning of St Botolph’s Hall).
Galvin Café à Vin sits next to the last of these, in a slightly confusing arrangement that includes terraces at front and back, a bar area and quite a small dining space. It can’t match La Chapelle for decor or dish dazzle, but it’s handsome enough, and prices are considerably kinder on the wallet.
Classic French bistro cooking dominates the menu. Charcuterie maison comes with celeriac remoulade and cornichons in a generous, well-balanced serving (and only £8.50). There are snails, and steak tartare, and oysters elsewhere among the starters. Mains stray a bit more from le vrai Français, with a burger and risotto among the small selection. Desserts largely return to the mother ship: tarte tatin and petit pot au chocolat might bother be there to tempt you.
As the name suggests (it opened as Café de Luxe, but has since been renamed Café à Vin) there’s an emphasis on wine, with plenty by the glass and ‘pot’ as well as by the bottle. For the best set of bottles under £30, turn to the page containing wines from Languedoc/Roussillon. A useful, grown-up spot.