Caledonian Hotel

Galvin Brasserie De Luxe

19/03/17

The Caledonian is of course, home to the Galvins’ Pompadour, a superb fine-dining restaurant we’ve already reviewed and loved. But the brothers have another venue housed in the same hotel, this one with a less formal, more bistro-like ambience, so we decide to head along and try out one of their special deals, which offers two courses and a glass of prosecco for just £17.50 a head. (Three courses: £21.50)

There’s a nice bustling atmosphere on the Sunday evening we choose to visit, though we note that the special deal doesn’t exactly give us a great deal of choice – just two starters and two mains from their seasonal menu, but they both sound suitably enticing, so we make our respective selections. I have the carrot & coriander velouté, served with pickled carrot and coriander oil. This is beautifully done, the thick sweet soup making a perfect contrast to the crunchy vinegary pickle and I use some of the excellent sourdough we’ve been greeted with, to mop the plate clean.  The confit chicken roulade is also nicely cooked and presented, a tasty savoury dish dressed with a thick tarragon mayonnaise.

No sooner have the plates been cleared than the main courses appear and it’s hard not to feel a little rushed. The coley fillet, with cauliflower and almond cous cous is very good indeed, the fish virtually melting in the mouth; bit I must confess to being rather less pleased with the lamb shank with aubergine caviar, courgette and fennel and basil puree, mostly because the lamb has been ‘pulled.’ Pulled meat seems to be everywhere these days but it makes for a less satisfying eating experience, because no matter how flavoursome it might be (and this surely is), there’s no real texture to it. To confound matters, the side order of fries we order doesn’t appear until we’ve actually finished eating and when it finally does show up, it’s just a tin container filled with the kind of tasteless frozen fries you’ll find pretty much anywhere. To be fair to the restaurant, because of the delay they don’t charge for these, but their absence means we’re waiting instead of relaxing while we eat, and this puts a bit of a crimp on the meal.

We eschew a pudding and indulge ourselves with a second glass of prosecco. A quick perusal of the wine list shows that there isn’t a decent bottle of plonk under £40 and this strikes us as a failing. While we’d be happy to spend that if we were having a more expensive meal, there should surely be a range of lower cost wines to accompany the bistro experience?

All-in-all, we’d go back to The Pompidour in a heartbeat, but the Brasserie probably needs to up its game a little if it hopes to compete with its more sophisticated neighbour.

3.5 stars

Philip Caveney

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The Pompadour by Galvin

Princes Street, Edinburgh

29/01/17

Situated in Edinburgh’s famous Caledonian hotel, the Galvin brothers’ Pompadour restaurant is a real delight. We’re here because… well,  because, why not? We have family visiting, and we want to give them a treat. And a jolly lovely treat it turns out to be.

We’re eating from the seasonal menu, which is £45 for three courses – and well worth every penny. To start, I opt for the salad of poached winter fruits, speck and toasted macadamia nuts. It’s a triumph: sweet and salty and bursting with flavour. Philip has the lasagne of North Berwick crab with beurre nantaise, which is the chef’s signature dish. It’s wonderfully aromatic and so light it virtually melts in the mouth.

Next up, the main courses. I have the corn fed chicken breast, with pommes mouuseline, roast chervil root and purple sprouting broccoli. This is quite simply the best chicken dish I’ve ever tasted; it’s almost ridiculously delicious. I didn’t know chicken could be quite so… chickeny. And the accompaniments are perfect too. Philip has the haunch and faggot of venison, with wild mushrooms, pommes Anna, red cabbage and charred onion, which, served pink, is as rich and tender as can be. He’s a very happy man. One of our guests samples the roast fillet of Peterhead sea bream, with pearl barley kedgeree and a confit egg yolk; she pronounces it ‘delicious’ too.

Thankfully, this isn’t one of those restaurants where they try to get us through quickly, so that they can offer our table to the next set of  diners in the queue. We’re allowed to progress slowly, which means that we can take a breather before pudding, and enjoy the rather pleasant New Zealand sauvignon blanc we’ve chosen to accompany our meal. And I’m glad of this, because the puddings are lovely. I have the salted Valrhona dulce chocolate crémeaux, with almonds, prunes and rum ice cream, and it’s gorgeously reminiscent of my starter, with its salty-sweet flavours and lightness of touch. Philip goes for the classic apple tarte tatin with vanilla ice cream, which is perfectly executed too.

Would we come back again? Of course we would. The food is faultless, and the service impeccable.

5 stars

Susan Singfield