Maybe it’s the heady impact of the creamy froth on the unpasteurised Pilsner Urquell, but things go peculiar more or less as soon as our meal starts at self-branded “Pub Deluxe” Galvin Hop .
We order a scotch quail’s egg as an appetiser and it turns up with unheralded slices of sausage roll.
Why? Clearly it’s not big enough, hardly deluxe. Maybe the pig’s been brought on board to try to conceal the lack of yolk, but it’s poor camouflage even if it tastes decent.
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Things improve when the starters arrive. My companion’s onion and cider soup is nicely sharp in all senses and my crab on toast is a light confection with pleasing crunch.
Better still (despite the weird garnish of crisps that rapidly go soggy) is an aged saddleback T-bone, perfectly grilled. Wines are well priced and selected too.
But then it all goes wrong. Sides of Tuscan black cabbage (salted to Atlantic levels) and wild rocket and pecorino salad (provided unprompted) are woeful.
Worse is my companion’s fish pie. Apparently blowtorched, it’s well below Galvin standard with a watery, bland interior.
I find myself apologising in my head to the creatures caught for its creation. It’s hard to believe we’re in the little sister of the brand’s La Chapelle outpost next door.
The desserts aren’t much better. Bread and butter pudding comes curiously de-constructed and my Valrhona chocolate choux bun evokes the spirit of a delinquent blancmange, unjustly imprisoned in a cold, lonely cell for a crime it didn't commit.
By all means celebrate London Beer Week (commencing Monday, February 22) with a rarity lager and a super chop at Hop. Just remember, pies-wise there are other fish in the sea. A main costs around £16.
Galvin Hop, 35 Spital Square, London, E1 6DY, 020 7299 0404.
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