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Come dine with me: Luncheon at Pompei

There are few names in the local culinary landscape that have stood the test of time like Pompei. For decades, the restaurant, situated within an old railway club, has been a benchmark for Italian cuisine. Refusing to employ faddish trends or catchy gimmicks, Pompei stands on the strength of its own legacy. The passing of seasons has only made the comforting dishes so much more special, and with the addition of new and contemporary dishes it remains a first choice for classic high end cuisine.

The floor-to-ceiling panoramic glass wall drapes the spacious interiors with natural light creating an old school comforting vibe. The overall warm palette is accentuated with unique art which adds character and charm to Pompei’s casual feel.

Pompei exterior

Serving freshly baked bread before the meal is a true mark of a quality restaurant. And in this matter Pompei does not disappoint. A warm, crusty baguette with a dab of butter is just what you need before the feast.

The appetizer menu has all the bistro standards. The carpaccio, spinach and artichoke al forno, grilled mushrooms are all done flawlessly, but the baked goat cheese stood out among the tried and tested.

The creamy goat cheese and tomato dip delivers a subtle richness followed by the mouth watering notes of the sauce. The soft and crispy ciabatta completes the dish. The creamy cheese and sauce spread on warm, toasted bread provides contrasting textures and subtle flavors.

Baked goat cheese

The perfectly broiled melted cheese bursting with a richness is amplified even more when combined with the vibrant flavors of the marinara.  The flavor medley is so simple and satisfying that it is tempting to order second or third servings.  The gooey mess has instantly become one of our favorite appetizers as it surprises and elates with each ingredient. It would be worthwhile to come back just for this.

Pompei still thrives as it always has because even when they innovate and create new dishes they always remain true to their origins.

If you must tear yourself away from the heavenly goat cheese in favor of a main course, salmon is the way to go. Moist with a subtle sweetness, the way premium Norwegian salmon should be. The buttery flavor and texture of the salmon is perfectly contrasted by the richness of the creamy pesto sauce. The grilled vegetables served on the side are a bit of a disappointment. Something slightly acidic to temper the richness of the dish would have been preferable. Still, the fish is of the best quality and is light and refreshing on a hot summer day.

norwegian salmon

If you are in the mood for something more substantial, the balsamic beef with feta cheese is outstanding. It’s the sauce that makes the dish a rich reduction of balsamic vinegar thick and sweet.  The beef is cooked to perfection and is tender and flavorful. The other components of the dish weave their own distinct notes, from the freshness of the peppery arugula, the subtle warm hints of the beetroot, and the cool contrast of salty feta. The diversity of flavors are balanced and each bite is a delight.

beef pompei

After such a rich meal, Pompei’s signature bread pudding or tiramisu would be just too much. So instead the home-made burnt caramel ice cream hits the spot. Soft and creamy, the dense smooth texture and potent flavors make this a winner.

This is no sweet sticky caramel, the almost burnt sugar gives the ice cream an intense caramel flavor with a slight tinge of bitterness.

The crunchiness of the spun sugar garnish takes it over the top.

Pompei still thrives because even when they innovate and create new dishes they always remain true to their origins. The food is modern and nostalgic at the same time, bringing the best of both worlds in one place.  People come here for the love of the food they’ve eaten before but they keep coming because they know there will always be a delicious new taste to explore.

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