The re-launch of the marvellous mouthful that is The Caledonian, a Waldorf Astoria Hotel, has heralded the arrival of Chris and Jeff Galvin on the Edinburgh dining scene. I think it’s fair to say that Pompadour by Galvin, their fine-dining restaurant, has been the main focus in reviewers’ minds, over the last wee while, but their large brasserie, Galvin Brasserie de Luxe, has attracted considerable attention from diners, too.
On the site previously occupied by cocktail bar Henry J Bean’s, the transformation to smart, light, airy brasserie has been quite considerable. With a seafood bar at the centre of the room, there is space for 100+ diners, in roomy comfort.
The place bears some similarities to two existing Edinburgh restaurants: Hadrian’s Brasserie; and The Honours. It’s not such a surprise that Hadrian’s is in the mix, given that we’re talking about the two major city centre hotels that mark the pillars of Princes Street. Also, the Galvin’s Executive Chef, Craig Sandle, used to work at that fine establishment. The Honours influence is also unsurprising as that is perhaps viewed as the most successful recent venture in the brasserie oeuvre. For me, in many ways Brasserie de Luxe is the restaurant that The Honours wishes it was.
First off, the service is excellent, with a battalion of well-trained attendants to cover your every need. Every aspect is working well, and the atmosphere they create steers a measured course between friendly and formal.
From their ever-changing prix fixe menu, offering two courses for £15.50, I opted for parsnip veloute with spiced apple, to be followed by Loch Duart salmon.
The soup promptly appeared and looked very elegant. A beautiful velvet finish accented well-judged seasoning and plenty of parsnip goodness. The apple added sweetness, but things were kept firmly in the realm of the savoury. The excellent fresh bread provided a good medium for soaking up the residuals. It was a very promising opener.
The main course that followed was one of the best dishes I’ve eaten in 2012. The salmon skin was shard crisp, and the flesh of the fish perfectly wonderful. The potato cake was lovely, too. The mushrooms provided good textural variety, and the whole dish was unified by a really satisfying red wine jus. Each forkful, combining the elements, was a totally unabashed joy.
I chose to conclude things there, so was promptly brought the bill. I toddled back to work with a very pleased expression on my face, having been completely won over by the excellence on show.
So overall, I’d strongly recommend that you pay Galvin Brasserie de Luxe a visit, at your earliest opportunity. It really is mightily impressive, with some masterful cooking on show. I look forward to my next visit, as I’m keen to share the place with others, so they can get a dose of pure culinary class.
Blythe scores Brasserie de Luxe
4.5/5 for food
4/5 for presentation
4.5/5 for service
4/5 for setting
giving an overall 17/20
Today’s quester was: Blythe
I ate: parsnip veloute with spiced apple, salmon with boulangere potatoes and shiitake mushrooms, in a red wine jus
I drank: sparkly water
I wore: Turnbull & Asser tie
Total bill: c.£20