Galvin’s Brasserie de Luxe, the Pompoadour’s less formal sibling, is on the ground floor of the Caledonian Hotel. It’s a bright space, with white walls, blue leather seats, and wall panels in white tiles and dark wood that matches the tables. The restaurant has three rooms, the main one houses a large, elegant bar with copper fittings.
The food is distinctly French, with steak tartare and snails staples on the menu, as well as smoked salmon, oysters and crab. The wine list is interesting and varied and the service is attentive and friendly.
To make your Sunday afternoon perfect, the Galvin now has a jazz band playing on a Sunday. C. and I went to experience it.
The Jazz Sunday menu has a good variety of dishes. I was torn between the salmon rillettes, the salad of beetroot and whipped goats curd, and the charcuteries. In the end, I decided on the rillettes, and C. opted for the beetroot salad. Both dishes were delightful. The yellow and purple beetroot was tender, with a bit of added crunch from shavings of raw candy cane beets, balanced by the gentle acidity of the goats curd and the crunch of candied walnuts. The rillettes were moist and flavourful, with a good amount of the herb that I think goes best with salmon: dill. It was served with a thin sliver of rye bread and a tart and garlicky crème fraiche.
The room was full of couples and small groups enjoying a leisurely Sunday lunch. It was quite a mix of people, from young couples to families, which I enjoyed. The traditional British roast beef lunch was popular and the Yorkshire puddings were puffy and huge. That’s not what we had, though. For my main, I had sea trout with saffron braised squid, fennel and chickpeas. The skin on the sea trout was crispy, the flesh was meltingly tender. The squid was cooked to perfection, and the chickpeas, in their broth, were lovely.
Meanwhile, C. had lemon thyme gnocchi, fried to give a crispy side that makes me think of delicious potstickers, sautéed jerusalem artichoke and curly kale. I really enjoyed my taste of the gnocchi and they worked very well with the earthy flavour of the artichoke and kale.
The three-piece jazz band – guitar, keyboards and bass – played while we ate, bathed in sunshine where they were set up against the window next to the entrance. The tunes they played were up-beat and not too challenging to my untrained ear. The Galvin can be quite a loud space but the music adds atmosphere and cloaks individual conversations and gives you privacy. I enjoyed listening to the music and C. enjoyed watching the bass – bass was his instrument.
For dessert, I was torn again: whether to have the oeufs à la neige, chocolate marquise or buttermilk panacotta? Oeufs à la neige it was. Christopher opted for the mature cheddar, a crumbly cheese with a long, palate tickling flavour and a distinct scent of wax and that slight hint of ammonia you get with a very mature cheese. The ‘snow-eggs’ were lovely. A firm but light meringue tasted almost salty on its own which was perfect with the the sweet, rich vanilla custard. A good sprinkling of almond praline added crunch and delicate flavour.
The Jazz Sunday lunch can be adjusted for the size of your stomach and pocket: have two courses for £24, or three for £29.
Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh – The Caledonian
Edinburgh EH1 2AB
Telephone: 0131 222 8988