Galoupet, 13 Beauchamp Place, London SW3

The mark-up on the wine leaves a sour taste in our critic's mouth at Galoupet

It has long been my contention that the simplest way to boost the appeal of our restaurant trade, and so elevate the place of good food in our culture, is to reduce the off-putting mark-ups on wine. So many middle-class eating experiences are tainted by that awful moment when eyes are dragged reluctantly to the farthest right column on the wine list, where some pedestrian Picpoul or charlatan Chardonnay is winking away at a cool four times the supermarket price.

The restaurateur's defence is as predictable as it is invalid: I have to make a profit somehow and everyone else does it too. Alas, this is myopic. My dear fellow, you might make more of a profit by not causing eyes to bleed on reading your drinks menu; and as for marching in step with your peers, leave that to the Army.

Wine is allegedly the central attraction of Galoupet, named after its owners' vineyard in Provence and which by appearances has slipped comfortably into the ostentatious despotism of Knightsbridge. It has a giant Enomatic machine at the front, from which 36 wine varieties can be extracted via a top-up card system. It looks like a spaceship designed by oenophile aliens, and the idea is to encourage contemplation of how different wines and foods best align. There is also a basic retail service, so this restaurant acts as local off-licence for the denizens of SW3.

Unfortunately, this makes buying wine to accompany the food very annoying – eventually. For reasons I cannot fathom, at the end of the meal we are shown the retail list, so that only then is it clear how much extra we're paying for the privilege of sitting in this long, thin room, with its clinically white upholstery and tilted mirrors. The last of these are a nuisance, because by hanging off opposite walls, they make it hard not to spend the meal staring at the back of one's head.

The summer menu has 14 dishes, six of which come in both small and large sizes, and each comes with a recommended wine. It is mostly underwhelming fare; several dishes have ingredients speaking at, rather than to, one another. They give off noise rather than polite conversation.

The grilled watermelon, Thai basil and baby fennel is a case in point (£7.50 large); so too the corn-crusted aubergine with green-tomato chutney and goat's curd (£8.50). Similarly, the chilli pork "Rib eye" with cucumber, coriander and lime (£11.50) has perfectly serviceable components, but they don't associate to mutual advantage. The onglet steak with mandarin, peanuts and papaya is confused and confusing.

But there are hits among the misses, each of which reveals chef Chris Golding's experience at Nobu, Nahm and Zuma. Octopus with fennel, kohlrabi and miso (£9.50) is excellent, and the lamb with chilli-pickled fennel and pistachio (£11) is a pseudo-Korean delight, a real thump of spice and nutty flavour. The heritage tomato with shiso (a Japanese herb from the mint family) and pepper dressing (£7.50) is well-balanced, and the stone bass, with burnt tomatoes and coriander (£11) is wonderfully muscular with a shimmering, tungsten skin.

These come with wines ranging from £4.10 to £13.80, and at that upper end a 2009 Meursault is fine. My friend Peter happens to be erudite on matters wine, and after I insist that we get a bottle of Châteauneuf du Pape at £71, we spend a few glasses savouring a lovely flavour.

And then, after the bill is settled, comes the mood killer, as our otherwise delightful waitress presents us with an unrequested retail price list. And what do you know? This £74 bottle is just about half that price if we want to drink it again, outside, with only each other and the swallows of Hyde Park for company.

This is distressing in the extreme. Peter is as baffled as I am. At least don't tell us we've been ripped off, for goodness' sake. Doubtless some – especially those who make a living out of this trick – think it naïve to expect anything else. What with food inflation and soaring rents, perhaps we punters ought to understand booze is your best business, and shut up.

But I'm afraid that's not how it works. Vast riches will flow to those who realise that such mark-ups generate resentment, and leave a very sour taste in the mouth. Restaurants should, of course, aim for the exact opposite, but at Galoupet they seem not to have noticed.

5/10

Scores: 1-3 stay home and cook, 4 needs help, 5 does the job, 6 flashes of promise, 7 good, 8 special, can't wait to go back, 9-10 as good as it gets

Galoupet 13 Beauchamp Place, London SW3, tel: 020 7036 3600

Lunch and dinner daily. About £125 for two, with a mid-range bottle of wine (not the Châteauneuf du Pape)

Worth it for the wine

Enoteca Turi

28 Putney High Street, London SW15, tel: 020 8785 4449

The best Italian wine list outside Italy is cleverly matched with expertly prepared dishes, in a lovely setting

Old Bridge Hotel

1 High Street, Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, tel: 01480 424 300

An ivy-clad riverside hotel, where consistently good food plays an honourable supporting role; its owner, John Hoskin, is a Master of Wine, and his list is remarkable

Hotel Terravina

174 Woodlands Road, Netley Marsh, Hampshire, tel: 023 8029 3784

Acclaim is growing for this boutique hotel's subtle cuisine. And its wine? Let's just say patron Gerard Basset won this year's World's Best Sommelier contest...

Reviews extracted from 'Harden's London and UK Restaurant Guides 2011' www.hardens.com

Suggested Topics
News
The surrealist comedian at the Q Awards in 2010
people
News
Russell Brand arriving for the book launch in East London
peopleRussell Brand cancels his book launch debate due to concerns about the make-up of the panel
Sport
Christiano Ronaldo enjoys his opening goal
champions leagueLiverpool 0 Real Madrid 3: Ronaldo and Benzema run Reds ragged to avenge thrashing from their last visit to Anfield
Arts and Entertainment
Awesome foursome: Sam Smith shows off his awards
music22-year-old confirms he is 2014’s breakout British music success
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Life and Style
Six of the 76 Goats' cheese samples contained a significant amount of sheep's cheese
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Contestants during this summer's Celebrity Big Brother grand finale
tvBroadcaster attempts to change its image following sale to American media group
Extras
indybest
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Nicholas Serota has been a feature in the Power 100 top ten since its 2002 launch
art
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Dales attempts to sell British Breeze in the luxury scent task
tvReview: 'Apprentice' candidate on the verge of tears as they were ejected from the boardroom
News
Call me Superman: one of many unusual names chosen by Chinese students
newsChinese state TV offers advice for citizens picking a Western moniker
News
Wilko Johnson is currently on his farewell tour
people
Voices
New look: Zellweger at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
voicesRenée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity, says Amanda Hess
News
Let’s pretend: KidZania in Tokyo
educationKidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day
Life and Style
CHARGE BOOSTER: Aeroplane mode doesn't sound very exciting, but it can be a (phone) hacker's friend. Turning on the option while charging your mobile will increase the speed at which your phone battery charges
techNew book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone
Arts and Entertainment
Julianne Moore and Ellen Page are starring together in civil rights drama Freeheld
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    SCRUM Master

    £30 - 50k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a SCRUM Master to joi...

    Franchise Support Assistant

    £13,520: Recruitment Genius: As this role can be customer facing at times, the...

    Financial Controller

    £50000 - £60000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: A successful entertainment, even...

    Direct Marketing Executive - Offline - SW London

    £25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A fantastic opportunity h...

    Day In a Page

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

    A crime that reveals London's dark heart

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
    Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

    Lost in translation: Western monikers

    Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
    Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

    Handy hacks that make life easier

    New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
    KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

    KidZania: It's a small world

    The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
    Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

    'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

    The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
    From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

    Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

    From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
    Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

    Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

    A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
    The 10 best smartphone accessories

    Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

    Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
    Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

    Liverpool v Real Madrid

    Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
    West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

    Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

    Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
    Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

    A new American serial killer?

    Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
    Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

    Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

    Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
    Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

    Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

    Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
    Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

    Wildlife Photographer of the Year

    Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
    Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

    Want to change the world? Just sign here

    The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?