Scotsman Review
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  • Drink - Is the wine or cocktail list as exciting as the food, or does it fall short? Same goes for soft drinks. 
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March 31, 2017

The Pompadour by Galvin, Edinburgh, restaurant review

The Pompadour by Galvin does one of the best Saturday lunches in town, says Gaby Soutar

Dear mumsy, if you are reading this, I’m sorry I won’t be taking you to The Pompadour tomorrow for Mother’s Day.

The special date, alongside the fact that this hotel restaurant is now offering a weekend lunch service, was supposed to be my reviewing peg. After all, it’s the sort of luxurious chocolate-box of a grown-up venue that you’d enjoy.

However, I’d forgotten that it’s not called Mothering Sunday for nothing, and they’re only doing this deal on Saturdays.

So, you’ll be receiving the usual type of card, with a funny cat on it, in the post. Oh dear, there are no deliveries tomorrow. Expect it on Monday.

Yours sincerely, your favourite child.

(I’m pretty sure Peacock Alley, just downstairs, is doing afternoon tea tomorrow, if you are stuck for somewhere to take your mum. Or just write her an IOU, and she can stick it on the pile).

Anyway, The Pompadour’s new lunchtime menu is £29 for three courses, which is reasonably accessible considering that’s the starting price for a main on the evening à la carte.

Or, you could go for the five course Menu Gourmand for £45, though we stuck with the cheaper option.

My mother in lieu, Rolf, was dining with me, and we’d smartened up, since a meal here is usually a fancy occasion.

Indeed, there’s still white linen and orchids on the tables, though the vibe was slightly more casual in the afternoon than their twinkly evening affair. Someone was even (whisper it) wearing jeans. The shame.

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The new set menu features three options per course. I started with the crispy ox tongue, which featured four crispy and feral pellets of sea-salted breadcrumbed meat with struts of red apple, pine nuts and a bolster of lushly thick tartare sauce.


The pork belly option was rather splendid too, It consisted of a clod of meat, topped by an aerated puff of crackling, a pile of pickled cabbage and an elemental-tasting and bonito-flake-sprinkled shiitake dashi stock, which the waiter poured over the top.

Punchy and rich, ooft.

Mains didn’t disappoint either. I think the better was the fillet of coley, a vibrant dish with a piece of crispy-skinned fish flanked by smoky pieces of endive, daubed with turmeric-coloured curry oil, with a scattering of pine nuts, raisins and capers providing dinky pops of flavour.
My corn-fed chicken breast consisted of three hunks of confit, a pale yellow plank of “olive oil panisse” (a polenta-ish carb made of gram flour), curls of chopped Savoy cabbage and some lovely meaty jus, which I would have liked much more than just a tablespoon of.

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This option was draped with early wild garlic leaves, but there were none of the billed “sand carrots”. Maybe the beach bunnies ate them. Lovely overall, though.

Puddings were poetically presented, with pretty bits here and there.

I had a dense and date-y palm-sized disc of chocolate brownie topped by a creamy “Valrhona dulce and manjari cremeux”, or piped-on and pimped up ganache to the layman. This offering was zinged up by a perfect sparrow-egg-sized scoop of Buddhist orange passion-fruit sorbet.

The low on sugary-ness Yorkshire rhubarb, hibiscus and buttermilk panna cotta featured a thick and milky base topped by a wine-coloured layer of sweet-salty jelly. On the side were two wersht strips of rhubarb, resembling strawberry shoelaces, and a couple of pretty edible flowers, all making for a dish that looked as if it had fallen from the pages of a Nordic cookbook.

Oh, and I forgot to mention the amuse bouche and petit fours that bookended this feast, with sourdough crackers topped by crème fraîche, chives and caviar at the front and tiny citrussy friands and sugar-coated blackcurrant jellies at the back. It’s an occasion eating here, even at lunchtime.

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I’m sorry about the card, mum, I should have really taken you to The Pompadour by Galvin instead.

Here’s an IOU, file it alongside the others.

The Pompadour by Galvin

Princes Street, Edinburgh (0131-222 8975)

How much?

Lunch for two, excluding drinks, £58

Gaby Soutar is a lifestyle editor at The Scotsman. She has been reviewing restaurants for The Scotsman Magazine since 2007 and edits the weekly food pages.
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