In today’s tough restaurant climate, customers want to know their restaurant of choice is making the right choices for them, with independent outlets offering personalised, even quirky individual service geared specifically to their own customers – not to a broad palette across the UK.
Typical of the breed is Chris Galvin who, with his brother Jeff, runs two quite distinct operations- Galvin La Chapelle luxury dining and Galvin HOP Bistrot and Bar – from linked buildings in London’s Spitalfields. “We are all about family and sustainability,” he says. “The family is our team, our suppliers and our customers present and future. We train our team on a constant basis both sending them on courses and on the job. We support and develop rather than criticise and restrict.
“Sustainability is at the core of everything we do. I take that to include being faithful to carefully chosen suppliers, buying the best produce – locally in the UK whenever we can – and constantly looking for new ways to ensure we reduce the environmental impact of everything we do.”
The latest area to come under Galvin’s restless gaze is on-demand wine from Uncharted Wines of Bethnal Green. “They have a range of over 70 wines that come in 20 or 30 litre recyclable lightweight kegs. So that means no bottles, no corks, no caps and no foils. It also reduces waste.
“People don’t realise how hard it is to efficiently manage wine by the glass. What’s supposed to happen is that the server notes the date and time the bottle is opened in pencil. But under pressure to serve a busy bar this rarely happens. So, when the next shift comes on, no-one has a clue how good the wine is. The first person to find out is the customer. But, being British, well we don’t like to complain, do we? We just don’t come back!”
Chris explained that he was so sceptical about the concept at first that he demanded, before trying a sample of a wine, that a bottle was also on hand to compare. “Blow me, the wine from the tap was at least as good, sometimes better than from the bottle. As we all know wine always tastes better in magnum than in bottle. Well, this container is 20 litres so imagine how happy that wine is. And every glass is served at optimal temperature, not from a bottle that could have been standing on a shelf for half an hour.”
The wine by any measure then, is of repeatable high quality and reduces environmental impact – and Chris sees even more to like. “First we can access tiny parcels of land and meet producers we’d never get the chance to work with which is always exciting. Rupert Taylor from Uncharted Wines and I are planning just such a trip in the next few weeks to see what gems we can unearth. Also, if someone comes into the bar and wants to try a wine, we can serve a mouthful for them to taste. And then we can take expensive wines which in other ways we could never sell by the glass and do just that. The system allows for up to nine weeks life– and for a top-quality French wine that is a game changer.”