Celebrated chef Dean Banks, has revealed exclusively to The Scotsman that his new Edinburgh restaurant has found its home in one of the city's most iconic dining rooms - The Pompadour.
Dean Banks at The Pompadour, which is located within the five star Waldorf Astoria - The Caledonian hotel, is being billed as "the ultimate Dean Banks experience."
The Pompadour sadly closed its doors in January 2020, and had been home to the Galvin brothers as The Pompadour by Galvin.
After the chefs left Edinburgh in 2019, it was being run by head chef Dan Ashmore.
Regarded as one of the most grand dining rooms in the city, it has intricate features and views to the Castle.
Dean's first restaurant Haar launched in 2019 as a relaxed yet refined restaurant, but Dean Banks at The Pompadour will be a fine dining affair fit for the beautiful location.
The restaurant will offer tasting menu experiences only, five evenings a week from Wednesday to Sunday from June 9.
Speaking of the restaurant, a delighted Dean said: “Originally we wanted to move to Edinburgh pre-pandemic. So I always had the drive to come to the Capital.
"I have built my reputation in St Andrews but I lived in Edinburgh for four years and trained there so always saw myself having a restaurant there.
“The concept has changed in that Haar is a relaxed dining experience enjoyed by people maybe coming off the beach from walking the dog, whereas our Edinburgh restaurant is more refined.
"We still want to use the term ‘relaxed dining’ but want to make it even more premium, more of an occasion. I want to put the Dean Banks name against the restaurant to represent me being there in the city.
"It is something I dreamed about in the younger years of my career especially when I worked at No1. (at the Balmoral).
"I knew at the other end of Princes Street was the Pompadour, I have to pinch myself to think I am taking it over.”
The Pompadour dates back to 1925 and is known for its category A-listed, hand painted walls and views of the castle.
It is named after Madame Pompadour, the “cerebral” mistress of Louis XV, and opened to the public in 2012 after being painstakingly restored as part of a £24 million refurbishment of the building.
Dean's excitement and joy at being part of the future of this iconic dining room is palpable, as he explained: “You think of iconic locations for food in the whole of Scotland and the legendary Pompadour is one of them.
"The room is one of the most historic dining rooms in the city and the chefs that have passed through the doors are incredible. To be part of that history is superb.
“It feels like I am ticking off a life goal achievement but just like opening Haar for the first time, I am nervous. I really want to push myself and Edinburgh is the main stage, and I will give it my all."
When it comes to produce and suppliers, fans of Dean's cooking won't be surprised that he's sticking with what he knows best.
“We are using locally sourced produce and working with many of the suppliers I have built relationships with through Haar, he said.
"We have meat from all over Scotland, shellfish and fish from Fife and Angus, the organic farm we work with in Fife for vegetables, and in general will work with local suppliers as always – that’s at the heart of everything I do.”
Despite some initial nerves, Dean is confident the Pompadour will see him at his absolute best. In fact he says this is unquestionably his proudest moment to date.
He said: “Definitely, so far, this is my greatest achievement. The opportunity to come into Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh and be part of the story is massive in itself, it’s almost ‘is this real?’
"I came home and started my business two years ago and one of those years has been living through a pandemic.
"To now be in one of the best restaurants in Scotland is incredible. My team and myself have worked so hard in such a short time to achieve massive goals and this is moment for us all.
“I have to single out Dale MacPhee, General Manager at Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh, who has been simply incredible. She understands my vision perfectly and has completely embraced it. She and her team are stellar and the opportunity to work with such amazing people in such an iconic venue has me lost for words.
"I feel very lucky, this is the culmination of a lot of work but the beginning of a lot more and I cannot wait to get started and welcome our first guests into Dean Banks at The Pompadour.”
Dale MacPhee, general manager, Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh – The Caledonian, on the announcement of this new partnership, said “We are delighted to be welcoming such a charismatic and driven Scottish chef who shares not only a passion for showcasing the best of local produce but also a mutual appreciation of this very remarkable venue, a venue that holds such a special place in the hearts of locals and visitors alike.
"Dean and I hit it off immediately and I look forward to seeing Dean build on the legacy of this very special Edinburgh dining institution.”
Those keen to dine at the restaurant can make a booking now, ahead of the June opening.
Main picture: Conor McGrath