There are some invitations that however high-minded or ethically sensitive you consider yourself as a blogger, you do not turn down. A multiple steak tasting at Hawksmoor, a Brindisa ham carving school and any number of lavish Bibendum sponsored wine events certainly qualify for an immediate "yes", and have subsequently turned out to be every bit as fun as they promised. And so last week when Fred Sirieix, restaurant manager at Galvin @ Windows (Hilton Park Lane), attention drawn presumably by a couple of (completely un-sponsored, I might add) glowing reviews on these pages over the last couple of years, invited me and a couple of lucky others to try some special Pauillac salt marsh lamb that André Garret (head chef) had managed to get hold of, my response was a foregone conclusion.
And speaking of ethical dilemmas, the consumption of suckling lamb is itself a bit of a tricky one. This is, after all, very young lamb, torn away from its mothers teat and mercilessly slaughtered barely before it's had a chance to take its first steps, with a subtle, sweet flavour and meltingly soft pink flesh. I had tried suckling lamb once before, from a tiny little restaurant in Paris called La Cerisaie, and the tender rich flavour of my own slow-braised shoulder in a rich jus took me right back to that meal all those years ago. And although the focus of the evening was the lamb, I should also mention my starter of "salad of salsify & heritage carrots, deep fried duck egg and truffle cream", which was nigh-on-perfect.
Towards the end of the meal Fred, presumably deciding that serving the worlds most exclusive lamb wasn't quite enough of a highlight for one evening, flourished a bottle of Armand de Brignac rosé champagne. This ludicrous bottle of bubbly, its gleaming packaging as flamboyantly flashy as some of its most notable customers (Jay Z is apparently a fan), is sold by the bottle at Galvin for about £600, and here we were knocking it back like it was Ribena. For the record, it was very nice, but am I too much of a pleb for much preferring the vanilla-y, rich Pommery Brut NV we had as an aperitif? Probably I am.
The Pauillac suckling lamb will be on the menu at Galvin @ Windows until the end of January, and as well as the braised shoulder is available as an assiette. The evening dinner menu is £58 and comes highly recommended.
Many thanks to Hollow Legs for letting me nick her photos, battling hardly favourable lighting conditions