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 and Entertainment
The cast of The Big Bang Theory in a still from the show
tvBig Bang Theory filming delayed by contract dispute over actors' pay
Sport
England celebrate a wicket for Moeen Ali
sportMoeen Ali stars with five wickets as Cook's men level India series
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Travel
travel
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
News
Robyn Lawley
people
News
people
News
people
News
i100  ... he was into holy war way before it was on trend
Life and Style

Between the 25-27th of July, Earls Courts’ gloomy interior was doused in shades of bubblegum and parma violets as it played host to Hyper Japan, the venue’s annual celebration of anime, art, Kawaii street fashion and everything that encompasses the term J-culture. Bursting with Japanese pop culture and infused with Asian street food Hyper Japan is an invigorating culture shock that brings cosplayers, creatives and gamers like myself from across the globe.

Life and Style
lifeDon't get caught up on climaxing
Life and Style
food + drinkVegetarians enjoy food as much as anyone else, writes Susan Elkin
Arts and Entertainment
Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) and Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint)
newsBloomsbury unveils new covers for JK Rowling's wizarding series
News
scienceScientists try to explain the moon's funny shape
Sport
Usain Bolt confirms he will run in both the heats and the finals of the men's relay at the Commonwealth Games
commonwealth games
News
peopleHowards' Way actress, and former mistress of Jeffrey Archer, was 60
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

    Sales and Office Administrator – Sports Media

    £23,000: Sauce Recruitment: A global leader in sports and entertainment is now...

    C++ Software Engineer - Hounslow, West London - C++ - to £60K +

    £40000 - £60000 per annum + Pension, Healthcare : Deerfoot IT Resources Limite...

    VB.NET and C# developer (VB.NET,C#,ASP.NET)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: VB.NET a...

    Visitor Experience volunteer

    Unpaid voluntary role: Old Royal Naval College: To assist the Visitor Experien...

    Day In a Page

    Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
    Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

    How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

    As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
    We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

    We will remember them

    Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
    Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
    Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

    Acting in video games gets a makeover

    David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
    Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

    Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

    Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
    Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

    Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

    Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
    Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

    Spanx launches range of jeans

    The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
    10 best over-ear headphones

    Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

    Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
    Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

    Commonwealth Games

    David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
    UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

    UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

    Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
    Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

    The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

    The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
    A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

    A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

    Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
    Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

    Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

    How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
    Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

    From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

    He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star