Recently a friend and I took a break from the madness of the festive season to retreat into the stylish calm of the Pompadour by Galvin – an excellent restaurant tucked away in plain sight of the first floor of the Waldorf Astoria Caledonian Hotel.
You get into the Pompadour by the main entrance, as you would if you were simply to enter the main body of the hotel – then make your way up the ornate staircase and follow the signs through to the dining area on the first floor. Before you come to the main restaurant, you’ll be greeted by a small area where you can perhaps enjoy a pre-lunch drink and admire the views of the Castle.
The main dining area is every bit as classy as you would expect a restaurant in the Waldorf Astoria to be – with delicate painted flowers and birds on the walls, charming table decorations (it was Christmastime when we went – so there were these lovely festive tree decorations as part of the table settings, gorgeous) and other lovely little details.
We dined from the new Friday lunch menu, which is served between 12 and 2.30. Perfect for a little end of week pick-me-up, you can choose from three courses for £29 a head, or really treat yourself with the five course tasting menu for £45.
After we ordered our food, our waiter promptly returned to the table with three canapés to share – a puffed pork rind, a blini with salmon mousse and a pastry puff with a cheese filling. My friend really enjoyed the puffed pork rind, while I had the cheesy pastry puff.
My dining companion had a nibble of the salmon blini, but given she wasn’t really a fan of salmon in the first place, she couldn’t finish the whole thing. I imagine this particular canapé would go down well with seafood lovers though!
We didn’t have to wait long before our starters came out, with my pal opting for the velouté of roast chestnuts, Alsace bacon and ravioli of duck confit. It looked pretty substantial for a starter where I was sitting, however my friend happily lapped the whole thing up – the velouté in particular was really enjoyable.
Meanwhile, I had the salad of Anster Cheese, Roast Winter Vegetables and Candied Walnuts. When it was placed in front of me I was a bit nervous about breaking it up at first as it looked so bloomin’ beautiful – truly a work of art.
However, I persevered and started nibbling it at one end before working my way across the plate. Every element of the dish – the cheese, the nuts, the beetroot and carrot – worked together and complimented each other perfectly. It was a lovely balance of flavours and one of the best starters that I have had in a long time.
For the main course, my dining companion had a rather hearty looking beef dish with potatoes and vegetables. I can’t remember quite what cut it was and as most of the dishes are seasonal it can be difficult to do follow up research online, however safe to say she found it absolutely delicious.
Meanwhile, I had the vegetarian option – ravioli of roast ironbark pumpkin, spinach, baby onions and parmesan veloute. Once again the food didn’t disappoint, with the ravioli paired with a delicious creamy sauce that made the dish quite rich, but was soaked up quite wonderfully by the broccoli, sprouts and baby onions.
For dessert, my friend had a delicious looking Bruce Farm blackberry cheesecake with a scoop of sorbet. It looked like the perfect serving size after such a hearty meal, and she reported that the sorbet made a really good accompaniment to the fruity cheesecake.
Meanwhile, I finished my meal with a clementine soufflé and dark chocolate sorbet. The soufflé wasn’t quite to my taste – even though it was cooked to perfection and the texture was spot on, I found it really sweet and it was fairly sizeable. After all the food I had consumed already, I had to admit defeat after only eating half of it!
The dark chocolate sorbet I found particularly intriguing – to be honest part of the reason I ordered the soufflé was so I could try the sorbet that came with it! I really didn’t know what to expect. In the end, it was like a really rich and creamy dark chocolate ice cream – sensational! If I could have a bowl of that just on its own, I totally would. It was delicious.
We finished our meal at the Pompadour with some coffee and, not doing things by halves, they gave us some delicate petit fours to have with our drinks. At this point we were pretty much stuffed from our meal, but we couldn’t resist helping ourselves to a couple of these deliciously tempting sweet treats.
The food at the Pompadour was exquisite, and the Friday lunch menu is such good value for money it makes fine dining even more accessible. If you are in town for a weekend and want to treat yourself, or simply want to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the city centre, then this is the perfect place to go.
You can find The Pompadour by Galvin (website) in The Waldorf Astoria Caledonian Hotel, EH1 2AB. It’s pretty hard to miss, as the hotel is the iconic red brick building at the West End of Princes Street. The restaurant will close for a post-festive break on the 3rd January, but will reopen for dinner on the 19th.
Many thanks to the folks at the Pompadour for providing the meal for this review!