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.
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.
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. Fab.
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. 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.