Restaurant review: The Kitchin, Leith – Sheer heaven

Restaurant review: The Kitchin, Leith – Sheer heaven

by Jackie Anderson
article from Friday 27, April, 2018

A VISIT to the Kitchin in Edinburgh is always a much-anticipated treat as my hubby and I have had some outstanding meals there over the years. 

My husband’s first visit was November 2006, with the Kitchin opening earlier that June, so he takes great delight at returning there. I have to say, however, that the meal we had recently was considered by both of us to be the best meal we have ever eaten. I do not say this lightly as we are both “foodies” and have eaten all over the world at some very impressive restaurants run by chefs you will probably know of. 

Tom Kitchin’s concept of “Nature to the Plate” is an impressive one, sourcing all his ingredients locally in Scotland, developing dishes that take what’s on offer to us all at a certain time of year, and creating mouth-watering plates. 

No doubt like others that go back, we are always welcomed as old friends when we visit, a nice nod to our continuing support of this creative chef.  It is an event to go there as it’s not just about the meal, it’s that they make you feel special just to be there. The service from staff would be hard to beat anywhere, they take an obvious pride in what they do and take the time to explain the menus in great detail if you wish, but without being over attentive.

On arriving we were ushered through to the bar area, a lovely room beautifully decorated in a modern style, with large comfy seating, and had a glass of bubbly accompanied with delicious home-baked nibbles, whilst we made our menu choice. 

We selected the Chef’s Prestige Tasting Menu deciding it was a great way to sample a little bit of everything that was so tantalisingly offered on the à la carte menu. The Prestige Tasting Menu is offered at £130 and the Chef’s Surprise Tasting Menu is £85, but we decided to splash out as we had received a Kitchin Gift Voucher for our birthday and it was time to celebrate. For veggie’s there’s also a Vegetarian Surprise Tasting Menu, also at £85.

Hubby went for the exclusive wine pairing of £130 each (there’s also one at £60 per head), which was a relief as he can take ages selecting each bottle, so for it all to be selected for us gave us more time to enjoy our fizz. 

Our order in, we were then taken to the chef’s table, situated inside the kitchen. This was new to us, and what a great idea. To be able to have another glass of fizz watching the chefs do their thing with Tom overseeing was an absolute treat. We were greeted warmly by Tom who was keen to point out that his restaurant was always evolving making it a little different each time regular guests visit and his enthusiasm for what he has created here just shone through. 

We were then taken to our table, still with a lovely view of the kitchen through its large window, and waited with anticipation for the meal to begin. The restaurant was full and the atmosphere had a real buzz. This is not a place for the old and stuffy like us, but anyone of all ages to experience very good food. 

The first wow of the night was the arrival of what looked like an ordinary unpeeled onion as the amuse bouche, but on taking the top off, a Langside farm onion veloute was revealed inside, with Pak Choi and bacon crumbs – absolutely delicious and served with a bold choice of a Philipponnat Reserve Champagne which complimented the veloute. Wow indeed, we thought, we are in for a real treat as we waited for the next course. 

We were then served with a 2016 Riesling Angevin from Mount Barker, Australia, so we suspected a fish course was to come and boy, what a course. Tartare of Langoustine with a wild herb and lemon cream, so pretty on the plate it was almost a shame to eat it, but eat it we did, with lots of mmmm’s from hubby.

My husband was delighted when crispy Sweetbreads, Morel mushrooms, spring vegetables, served with a lemon and thyme jus was next up. I never order sweetbreads and was a little nervous of this course but I have to say they were really delicious. Crispy on the outside and sweet and tender on the inside they just melted in the mouth and I’m now a convert. Served with a 2015 Pinot Noir Heritage Reserve from the Russian River valley this course did not last long!

Our French wine waitress was so knowledgeable and took the time to explain why each glass of wine was selected for each course and answered all our questions, as we have a penchant for asking aboutgood wines as well as good food. With a wine tasting it might be an idea to bring the bottle out when served as hubby likes to take a look at the labels and believe it or not takes photos so we may source wines for the future.

Our waitress for the night was so attentive without being intrusive, always making sure we were satisfied and bringing bowls of homemade bread when hubby had eaten it all. She then brought a wild Halibut, caviar, seaweed and Beurre Blanc dish which prompted more mmmm’s, served with a 2015 Pencarrow Chardonnay from the Palliser Estate in New Zealand. I am not usually a Chardonnay fan but this was delicious.

How can this meal get any better, we asked ourselves but then a real treat for me, being a carnivore – a beautifully presented plate of Wagyu beef from the Highlands with carrots, and a celeriac and bone marrow marmalade. I was in heaven, each mouthful melting in the mouth and the marmalade was to die for. The 2012 Les Hauts de Perganson from Bordeaux was so good we asked for another glass which was not a problem, in fact the wine waitress took a delight that we enjoyed it so much.

We then asked for a small break whilst we let our considerable plates of food digest before the next course and just enjoyed watching other diners’ reactions to the food placed before them. (Actually we also popped out for a quick smoke on the terrace outside – Ed!)

Next a huge trolley of cheeses rolled before us and after selecting four cheeses (quite a feat in itself as the choice is truly amazing) we opted for a nice glass of port with the homemade fruit bread and had no problem in polishing this course off. We were then informed that we were to be served a pre-dessert, wow, two puds, my kind of restaurant! 

A vanilla rice pudding with a salted caramel sauce and decorated with blood oranges was just superb; very creamy, and I could have had a huge bowl of this but perhaps not wise when the main dessert was still to come...

A 2014 Maury Mas Amiel was served just as the pièce de résistance of a chocolate soufflé arrived. A bottle of Glenmorangie Signet Whisky had already been placed on our table and this was poured through a hole in the soufflé to mix with the chocolate sauce, served together with butter milk ice cream. The height of the soufflé was something us cooks aspire to and even when pierced it did not collapse. Absolutely wonderful and a fitting end to such an outstanding meal. 

We took our Maury outside to the welcoming tables where we could have another smoke and discuss the meal we had just eaten. As we were sipping our coffee Millionaires’ shortbread arrived; I protested I couldn’t eat another thing and the waiter said “you will, just taste it”. He was right, we ate it all.

Now I have written about this restaurant before, I’m a fan, but this meal was the best yet. The whole experience from the care and attention of staff, the absolute honour to witness these chefs in action, and of course to Tom who took the time on a very busy night to stop and chat made it an experience we will always remember. We go back in September with friends who have never been there (or to Edinburgh) and I can’t wait to take them.

Edinburgh is such a fortunate city to have the calibre of a restaurant such as The Kitchin – and that it remains there and flourishes.


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