THEY hail from Essex and perfected their craft in France, but proud guardians of the Capital’s culture and heritage need not fear – the Caledonian is in safe hands.
Soon to be stripped of its Hilton branding as it is taken under the arm of Waldorf Astoria, the historic hotel has served up its restaurant to the only two brothers in Britain to both hold Michelin stars, Chris and Jeff Galvin.
The Pompadour restaurant – named after Madame Pompadour, the “cerebral” mistress of Louis XV – opened to the public earlier this week, having been painstakingly restored as part of a £24 million refurbishment of the building.
The brothers will then open the Galvin Brasserie de Luxe at the hotel in three weeks’ time.
It’s the seventh restaurant opened by the Galvins in as many years, and their aim is for it become the benchmark for luxurious and decadent dining in Edinburgh.
While it is the brothers’ first venture in the city, and in Scotland as a whole, they intend to be faithful to their new territory.
“Craig, our head chef, used to work at Restaurant Number One in the Balmoral and is from Edinburgh,” says Chris. “Plus, our manager, Baxter, is from Aberdeen.
“Something that’s been a real surprise is that – unlike when we need staff for any of our London restaurants – we have not once had to call an agency.
“The whole team has come together through other chefs in Scotland who have called us up and recommended people. It’s been so nice. We’ve been really lucky.
“People do ask us why we keep on opening more places. They think we’re mad, but how do you pass up an opportunity like this?
“There’s so much history surrounding this restaurant and so many incredible chefs have worked here. We’re actually thinking of inviting them all back for a special meal one night.
“There has been so much attention to detail in the design and restoration, we wanted to keep the connection with the past. The hand-painted wallpaper was cleaned and restored by local artist Rachel Bell, and the furniture was designed especially by Laurence McIntosh down in Leith.”
Jeff adds: “If you’re going to restore something so famous, which so many people have such a history and connection with, you feel a real sense of responsibility to get it right.”
The local recruitment drive is ongoing, with the brothers, pictured below with The Pompadour’s head chef Craig Sandle, bringing more than just food to the table.
“We’re all about giving back too,” says Chris. “So our next step will be to get in touch with local catering schools and colleges so we can start seeking out the best up and coming talent, the ones with that glint in their eye.”
With the Brasserie’s opening around the corner, Chris, 53, and Jeff, 41, have put down roots in the Capital for at least the next three months. Jeff, who was “barbecuing in wellies” at the aborted Taste of Edinburgh festival, says he’s already enamoured with his adopted home.
“I’m loving living in Edinburgh. It’s so different from London, everything is walkable but there’s still so much to discover, including some great restaurants. And not just the big names, I’ve made some great little finds. First Coast near Haymarket is very enjoyable, I’ve been in there loads.”
Described by Chris as currently resembling “a lady without her make-up”, the finishing touches are yet to be made to the Brasserie, but it will be quite different from The Pompadour.
“There are quite distinct styles between the two,” says Jeff. “Fine dining upstairs and something more affordable, but still offering a fantastic experience, down here.
“The first thing you’ll see when you walk in from Rutland Street will be the crustacean bar, full of fresh Scottish
• To book for The Pompadour by Galvin or the Galvin Brasserie de Luxe, call 0131-222 8888 or visit www.hilton.co.uk/caledonian