What’s On chats to Jeff and Chris Galvin, owners of Demoiselle by Galvin about their restaurant opening in Dubai.

Fans of the British luxury department store Harrods will know the name Demoiselle by Galvin. It sits in Harrods’ striking fruit, vegetable and pantry food hall on the ground floor. Now, brothers Jeff and Chris Galvin are making waves in Dubai’s City Walk neighbourhood with not one but two venues. We talked to the British gents to find out more…

What’s On is delighted you’ve made it onto the culinary map of Dubai. How has the process been? 

Jeff: Thank you! We have loved the thought of coming and opening in Dubai. Initially, we looked at City Walk 1, which we thought showed loads of promise. Later, we spoke to the architect of City Walk 2 and we really felt like Demoiselle would be a perfect fit. It’s similar to our Harrods venue, in that City Walk 2 focusses on retail, and we’re a great place to grab a bite in between your shopping.

Why did you eventually settle for City Walk and not a hotel as your location?

Chris: One thing we said we wouldn’t do is go into a giant marble-walled, five star hotel, put our name on the door and leave it at that. We wanted something that had character and was a part of the community. We wanted something that was stand-alone, that lives or dies by the quality of its offerings. We also wanted it to be easy to find and tourists can find us here!

Demoiselle by Galvin has quite possibly the prettiest interior in City Walk…

Can you tell us a little bit about Demoiselle by Galvin. What can we look forward to?

C: A really wide selection. We make artisanal bread on site along with a range of viennoiserie. Afternoon tea is served in the salon de thé, a modern day tea parlour on the first floor of the restaurant. We also have an all-day offering with breakfast, lunch, dinner and afternoon tea.

J: Look out for our signature dishes like the steak tartare and the apple tart tartin.

Here’s a look at one of their signature dishes, the steak tartare. Yum…

Dubai’s seen quite a British chef invasion of late (Atherton’s opened Marina Social, Aikens opened Pots, Pans and Boards, Ramsay’s taken over Atlantis). What do you make of their successes?

 J: Yeah, they are top operators that took the local market very seriously. We’ve learnt from them that you need to learn to adapt a little bit. We see a lot of people come to London and not do that. You know, it’s not good enough to just be ‘Galvin’. You know, we have to work extremely hard to make sure that we fit into the market and that we are relevant.

C: These guys are our peers. They are amazing operators; they are highly successful wherever they open in the world, but they work jolly hard at making it work and continuing to make it work. They have an eye for detail, they are sticklers for great ingredients. You can ignore all those at your peril.

Jason Atherton 02
Jason Atherton has made his mark in Dubai, and the Galvin brothers hope to follow suit…

How much involvement will you have at Demoiselle? Will you be in Dubai a lot?

J: Chris and I will each travel to Dubai twice a year, which means we’ll have a presence every quarter. We have key people both in the kitchen and front of house that have together almost 40 years experience of working with us. That is the most important thing when we operate a restaurant remotely that we have those key people.  

We heard about a second venture can you tell us about that?

C: Yeah, so Galvin Dubai will open literally 400 metres from Demoiselle. Demoiselle is a very casual meeting place, whereas Galvin Dubai is a more grown up venue. We hope to be open around September or October this year. Here it’ll be a little more serious, but still laid back. Lots of precision and attention to depth of flavours. There’s a large horse-shoe shaped bar, where you can sit and drink. You know I love bars. And I love eating in bars, and I think this will work so well here in Dubai. We’ll have a slightly open plan kitchen but, you know, some chefs really aren’t that good looking, so guests will see the odd arm and leg moving around [chuckles].

Grand stairs inside Demoiselle by Galvin

What are the biggest blessings and challenges when working so closely with family?

C: It’s always been great. I feel very blessed. Not everybody could work so closely with their family. I feel very lucky and inspired, really.

J: Oh man, I better go get a hanky!

How do you find Dubai’s foodie scene at the moment?

C: It’s so diverse, so exciting. It’s always changing and I think it will continue to change. There’s a lot of talk about saturation but I think that just drives quality. People who do not have a great offer just will not survive.

J: We’ve seen over the last decade how the momentum has grown, and if you think about it, these are really the early days. Not only has it caught up with London, Paris and New York as a dining destination, it’s got such energy and investment, the sky is the limit for Dubai.

Who would you share an afternoon tea with?

Jeff: A great sportsman. Maybe someone like Bobby Moore.

Chris: Well, it ain’t going to be Donald Trump. He’s not on my invite list! Probably Winston Churchill. I reckon he’d be a lot of fun. Brave man and I think he’d be off-the-wall.

Demoiselle by Galvin, City Walk, 8am to midnight, daily 8am to midnight. Tel: (04) 5905076. Taxi: City Walk, near the cinema. facebook.com/demoiselledubai

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