The Pommery Champagne Café Bar at the Signet Library is back for the Edinburgh Festival with a sparkling, fizzing POP.
This popular, innovative venture by Heritage Portfolio creates a peaceful sanctuary – away from the buskers and jugglers outside - to enjoy fine food and drink in elegant surroundings.
And there's also an appetising series of informative and entertaining Food and Drink tasting Fringe shows staged here.
In Parliament Square off the Royal Mile, beside St. Giles Cathedral and the High Court, the Signet Library is a grand Georgian building dating to 1822; during a visit to Edinburgh, King George IV described it as “the finest drawing room in Europe”.
The ornate ballroom of a place with its giant pillars, archways, domed ceiling, ornate cornicing, (and shelves of antiquarian legal books), creates a unique historic setting for lunch, afternoon tea, pre-theatre supper, dinner, or indeed share a bottle of Champagne.
Tables are well spaced out with seating for either couples, groups of four, and in the centre, high tables for a large party of friends. Also a small Bar area with club armchairs for drinks and nibbles, and an outdoor patio too with large umbrellas for sun and rain.
“Only people with no imagination can’t find a good reason to drink champagne” (Oscar Wilde).
Greeted at the front door and taken to the reception desk on arrival, the personal, professional style of hospitality is calm, cool and civilised – with a lively sense of Festival fun. The female servers wear T shirts with logos such as “ Let’s get Fizzical” and “Feel my Bubbles.”
Jokes aside, these ladies know their Pommery fizz and describe the extensive choice of champagnes as if masters of wine.
As an aperitif before lunch, Ken selects the Pommery Springtime Rose, which is not at all pink, but a soft peachy blush. Made from Chardonnay grapes, it has a subtle, delicate, floral taste, described as “instantly appetising”.
I selected the Pommery Prestige Cuvee Louise. Immediately in the tall flute, the fast flowing tiny bubbles reflect the quality and vintage. Exquisitely dry with a lingering after taste. To be sipped slowly.
A couple of girls near us have made a wise choice, selecting the Pommery Champagne Tasting – a tray of four different Pommery fizz, to savour and compare, before selecting your favourite, to enjoy a further glass.
For our starter, we selected (of course), six Loch Creran oysters to share. Served with lemon, Tabasco and a pipette of a home-made vinegar (Pommery brut, Pickerings gin, herbs and spices), we could each add our own accompaniment to each oyster. Fresh, salty, and oh so sophisticated.
The menu emphasises seasonal Scottish produce - Shetland salmon, lobster, Aberdeen Angus beef burgers, as well as gourmet salads and sharing plates of charcuterie or grilled vegetables or seafood.
I selected the Taste of Smoked Salmon platter – speciality beetroot cured and oak smoked fish, bursting with flavour. Over the table, Ken had a huge bowl of Crevette prawns, roasted in a spicy, chilli sauce, with a rocket salad. Cooked in their shells, they were slightly messy to eat, but assisted with several napkins and licking of fingers. We also shared a small bucket of fat potato wedges (naughty but nice), and to drink, a bottle of dry Languedoc Colombard Blanc wine.
To finish an espresso coffee – although we could have sampled a Belgian chocolate brownie, strawberries and cream and other desserts.
By now, mid afternoon, several tables were filling up with several ladies, friends and families to indulge in a sumptuous Afternoon Tea with towers of sandwiches and cakes. Such a traditional and fashionable treat with of course a glass of bubbly.
For a special occasion, birthday or Festival get-together, the VIP Cuvee Louise Lounge can be booked for a private party for up to 15 guests.
If this were a Fringe show, the Pommery Café Bar would get 5 stars for glamorous style, graceful direction and fizzing fun. Performances daily, 1 – 25 August.
The Pommery Cafe bar opens at midday and lunch is served from 12-4 pm, Afternoon tea from 12-6 pm and hot food until 10pm, with drinks and snacks till late. There’s also a shop selling a wide range of Champagnes, from mini Pop bottles (200ml) to Grand Cru vintage, associated gifts and souvenirs.
Be sure to reserve a table in advance – www.thesignetlibrary.co.uk
t. 0131 226 1064
FESTIVAL FOOD AND DRINK EVENTS
As part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, a series of Food and Drink Events presented by professional experts will take place in the Upper Signet Library.
Sara Hicks, the UK Ambassador for Pommery Champagne will be giving tutored tastings. 13, 14, 15 August, @ 5.30 and 7pm.
“Chocolate, Whisky and Cocktails” with The Whisky Belle – Amanda Meikle’s masterclass.
3, 10, 17, 24 August @ 2pm.
“Single Malt Sundays” with The Whisky Belle – single Malts and Tapas.
3, 10, 17, 24 August @ 5pm.
Exclusive Dinner and Tattoo package: 3 course meal with a Pommery cocktail and ticket to the Tattoo on selected dates, Thursday – Saturday.
These Signet Library Tastings and Tattoo Dinner package are listed in the Festival Fringe brochure. (See Events). www.edfringe.com