WHY IT’S NOTEWORTHY
Galvez is a Spanish restaurant, the latest in a growing number of local Iberian restaurants specializing in tapas, paella, and lots of lusty dishes involving chicken, garlic, chorizo, garlic, serrano ham, seafood, and garlic. There’s a tiny bit of New Orleans food on the menu, probably put there for the benefit of the many out-of-towners who find it. But New Orleans food has more than a little Spanish heritage, and the Spanish dishes fit right in with Creole flavors.
Chef Laura cooks up all the familiar classics of Spanish cuisine, but she doesn’t stop there. Even devotees of that style of cooking will find unusual new Spanish dishes here. All of it is made with first-class groceries and served with polish. The elegance of the food is very much up to that of the surroundings. The only customers who might be disappointed will be those who equate Spanish food with cheap, peasant eating. The cuisine deserves all the attention it gets here.
The restaurant is named for Bernardo de Galvez, the first Spanish governor of the vast Louisiana colony that Spain had just won from the French in 1777. (Same guy Galvez Street and the city of Galveston are named for.) It opened in 2009 under the management of Laura and Cesar Cedillo, who moved here after operating a restaurant in New York City. It was the first restaurant to open in this space since Bella Luna closed as a result of Katrina damage. The building is a new part of the French Market, constructed in the late 1970s and originally built for Jimmy Moran’s Riverside.
Galvez inherited its dining rooms from the extinct Bella Luna. The view–from the second floor of a building right next to the floodwall–is of the bend of the Mississippi River where New Orleans was founded. Streetcars pass by on the tracks downstairs. This is arguably the best view in town. The room is long and spacious, with tables spread almost too far apart. The decor is not quite as handsome as it was in the Bella Luna days, but it still may be the most stunning place to dine in these parts.
Spanish cheese plate
»Shrimp sautéed with chorizo, garlic and white wine
Shrimp marinated with tomatoes, red onions, cilantro, citrus juices
Skewered grilled shrimp wrapped in serrano ham
»Albondigas (Spanish pork meatballs, tomato sauce, Manchego cheese)
Crab cake, salsa fresca, chipotle aioli
Fresh spinach sautéed with sherry, garlic, raisins and pine nuts
»Grilled Spanish olives, blue cheese, wrapped in serrano ham
Grilled asparagus, beurre blanc sauce
Fresh clams or mussels, roasted tomato, chorizo
»Creole barbecue shrimp
»Patatas bravas (roasted garlic potatoes)
Fried calamari, saffron aioli
»Empanadas al dia (savory turnover pies, stuffing of the day)
Manchego bombas (fried potato croquettes, Manchego cheese, quince sauce)
Sauteed garlic chicken, white wine and paprika
Ensalada mixta (green salad, carrots, cabbage, olives, red onion)
»Fresh avocado, fanned out, salsa fresca
»Red heirloom beets, shredded carrots, red onion, spinach, blue cheese, cilantro-sherry vinaigrette
»Caldo Gallego (traditional Spanish soup, chorizo, pork, potatoes, white beans, broccoli rapini)
»Roasted garlic soup, serrano ham
Creole crab and corn bisque
Sopa del dia
»Paella de mariscos (clams, mussels, shrimp, calamari)
»Paella de carne (chicken, chorizo, pork)
»Paella Valenciana (mussels, shrimp, chorizo and chicken)
»Pan-seared scallops, potato cake, asparagus, mushrooms, crisp serrano ham, mint-pea pesto
»Bouillabaisse de mariscos (clams, mussels, scallops, seasonal fish, shrimp, calamari, seafood and tomato broth)
Seared red snapper, avocado, white beans, cherry tomatoes, green olive salad
Grilled salmon, spinach, asparagus, chorizo sauce
Pan seared fish, grits cake, crab cake, shrimp, crawfish cream sauce
Mar y tierra (filet mignon, red wine demi-glace, manchego bombas, asparagus, grilled shrimp
»Chuletillos de cordero (marinated, grilled rack of lamb, mushrooms, red wine fig sauce
»Pollo chilindrón (chicken, tomatoes, roasted red peppers, potatoes)
»Chuleta de cerdo (grilled pork chop, balsamic vinegar reduction, sweet potatoes, market vegetables)
»Bread pudding, currants, sliced almonds, cinnamon bread, bourbon caramel
Chocolate Decadence (flourless chocolate cake, fresh berries, passionfruit whipped cream)
FOR BEST RESULTS
A meal made entirely of tapas would not be a bad idea, if only because of the great variety of small plates on the menu. Start with sangria, each glass of which is made to order. The wine list is rich with the many fine Spanish bottles we’ve come to enjoy lately.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPROVEMENT
The most unsettling aspect of this restaurant is that it is usually very sparsely occupied. The second most unsettling is that it’s tucked away on Dutch Alley, behind the main French Market buildings. Dutch Alley is patrolled, but could be brighter. When Chef Laura isn’t there, the food goes down noticeably (but not terribly). The service staff could use more education about service. All of these problems would be solved if the place were busier.
FACTORS OTHER THAN FOOD
Up to three points, positive or negative, for these characteristics. Absence of points denotes average performance in the matter.
- Dining Environment +3
- Consistency +1
- Value +1
- Attitude +1
- Wine & Bar +2
- Hipness +1
- Local Color +3
- Live music some nights
- Courtyard or deck dining
- Good view
- Good for business meetings
- Many private rooms
- Open Sunday lunch
- Easy, nearby parking (validated in French Market parking lot; enter at Decatur @ St. Peter).
- Reservations honored promptly