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
Arts & Entertainment
Madonna in her music video for 'Like A Virgin'
music... and other misheard song lyrics
Sport
Steven Gerrard had to be talked into adopting a deeper role by his manager, Brendan Rodgers
sportThe city’s fight for justice after Hillsborough is embodied in Steven Gerrard, who's poised to lead his club to a remarkable triumph
News
Much of the colleges’ land is off-limits to locals in Cambridge, with tight security
educationAnd has the Cambridge I knew turned its back on me?
News
Waitrose will be bringing in more manned tills
newsOverheard in Waitrose: documenting the chatter in 'Britain's poshest supermarket'
VIDEO
News
The energy drink MosKa was banned for containing a heavy dose of the popular erectile dysfunction Levitra
news
Environment
People are buying increasing numbers of plants such as lavender to aid the insects
environmentGardeners rally round the endangered bumblebee
Sport
Australia's Dylan Tombides competes for the ball with Adal Matar of Kuwait during the AFC U-22 Championship Group C match in January
sportDylan Tombides was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2011
Arts & Entertainment
Customers browse through Vinyl Junkies record shop in Berwick Street, Soho, London
musicBest exclusives coming to an independent record shop near you this Record Store Day
News
Ida Beate Loken has been living at the foot of a mountain since May
newsNorwegian gives up home comforts for a cave
Extras
indybest10 best gardening gloves
Arts & Entertainment
tvIt might all be getting a bit much, but this is still the some of the finest TV ever made, says Grace Dent
Arts & Entertainment
Comedian Lenny Henry is calling for more regulation to support ethnic actors on TV
tvActor and comedian leads campaign against 'lack of diversity' in British television
News
Posted at the end of March, this tweeted photo was a week off the end of their Broadway shows
people
News
peopleStar to remain in hospital for up to 27 days to get over allergic reaction
Arts & Entertainment
The Honesty Policy is a group of anonymous Muslims who believe that the community needs a space to express itself without shame or judgement
music
News
Who makes you happy?
happy listSend your nominations now for the Independent on Sunday Happy List
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    NGO and Community Development in Cambodia

    Unpaid: Kaya Responsible Travel: There are many small development projects in ...

    Sports coaching volunteer jobs

    Unpaid: Kaya Responsible Travel: Kaya Responsible Travel offer a variety of sp...

    Turtle Nesting and Coral Reef Conservation in Borneo

    Unpaid: Kaya Responsible Travel: Volunteer with Kaya in Borneo and work on a p...

    Elephant research project in Namibia

    Unpaid: Kaya Responsible Travel: If you have a passion for elephants and want ...

    Day In a Page

    How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

    How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

    Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
    Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

    British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

    The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
    Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

    Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

    Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
    A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

    A History of the First World War in 100 moments

    A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
    Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

    Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

    The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
    Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

    Cannes Film Festival

    Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
    The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

    The concept album makes surprise top ten return

    Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
    Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

    Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

    Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
    10 best baking books

    10 best baking books

    Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
    Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

    Jury still out on Pellegrini

    Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
    Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

    Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

    The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
    Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

    Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

    The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
    Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

    Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

    As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
    Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

    Mad Men returns for a final fling

    The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
    Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

    Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

    Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit