Edinburgh’s own Michelin starred fine dining destination, The Kitchin has been on my list of restaurants to dine in for a very long. I am a big fan of Chef Tom Kitchin’s ‘Nature to Plate’ philosophy and his passion for the finest, freshest Scottish seasonal produce. Seb and I were in Edinburgh a few weeks ago and the first thing I did when we got there was to call up The Kitchin and book us a table. It would have been wrong not too and I am so glad I did.
The Kitchin is located in a converted whiskey bonded warehouse in the old dock area of Leith in Edinburgh. You walk into a cosy yet intimate bar with huge comfy armchairs spread around a warm fireplace. It’s relaxed and designed to make you feel at ease. The dining room continues this theme in shades of grey and purple with a window to view the theatre-like kitchen in all its glory. It’s always nice to see celebrity chefs in their kitchens when you visit and I was happy to see Tom Kitchin deeply engrossed and involved in the food that was being dished up here.
Tom Kitchin’s famous ‘From Nature to Plate’ philosophy really comes to life here. The Kitchin presents ‘modern British cuisine influenced by French cooking techniques’ but what really stood out to me was the freshness of the the dishes. The produce is freshly sourced every day from Scotland’s natural larder including the fish and the meat, which is bought in whole with all of the butchering and filleting done in-house. This makes a significant difference and it shows in the excellent dishes served up at The Kitchin.
We started off with some Bread Crisps served up with a Blue Cheese Dip. They were a rustic explosion of flavours. I especially loved the honey and seaweed bread crisps – even better combined with a bit of that lovely blue cheese dip. The bread served up after continued with this rustic theme and tasted great. What really surprised me was the portion sizes – there was a lot of food already and we hadn’t even started with the taster menu by this point. Not that I was complaining.
Our waiter suggested we try the Classic Kitchin Surprise Tasting Menu as it was our first time at The Kitchen and we were happy to play along. First up was the Beetroot – a beetroot velouté served with horseradish cream, apple and bacon. Sounds amazing right? Beetroot has never been this excitingly delicious. I wanted to give the chef a hug after trying the velouté. The intensive flavours and textures in this dish were beautiful and there was enough of it to keep me satisfied.
This was quickly followed by our second dish – Razor Clams from the Isle of Barra served with diced vegetable, chorizo and wild herbs. The razor clams were incredibly fresh and the vegetables and wild herbs only emphasised the freshness even more. I loved finding bits of chorizo in this seafood dish – it just worked really well. Top marks for presentation too.
The Shellfish Rockpool was up next. This rockpool of West Coast shellfish served with sea vegetables in a shellfish bouillon was spot on. This dish looked like a beautiful photograph clicked deep under the sea – it was absolutely stunning. The shellfish bouillon was an explosion of flavours – intense and just right without ending up being too ‘fishy’. Complimented by a medley of brilliant flavours and textures from the sea, this was easily one of my favourite dishes at The Kitchin. The epitome of the ‘From Nature To Plate’ philosophy that underpins the food here.
My favourite dish of the night however, was the Pig’s Head and Scallops. Boned and rolled pig’s head served with seared hand-dived Orkney scallops and a crisp ear salad. The meat was surprisingly light and had a hint of sweetness that added so much depth to this complex dish. The crisp coating of the pork combined with the melt in your mouth meat is enough alone to warrant a trip to The Kitchin. Add to that the salad, wafer-like ear and the scallops you have a dish that leaves you wanting more. It does make me contemplate if this dish even needs anything more than just the pig’s head but then again, as it stands, it’s a great dish with complex flavours that work wonderfully. The perfect combination of land and sea brought to life in the kitchens at The Kitchin.
The menu surprises you with every dish that is served up and the Widgeon was a curveball that I wasn’t expecting. I was expecting this menu to be very much seafood based but the widgeon showcased how versatile Tom Kitchin’s dishes are. The roasted widgeon was as good as I expected it to be but what really impressed me was the endive tatin that accompanied the game meat. I am a big fan of this under-utilised vegetable and was happy to see Tom put it to good use.
The blackcurrent sorbet was a welcome transition as we moved on to our dessert. The Glazed Lemon Tart served with a Lemon Macaroon and Alston Dairy Frozen Yoghurt was fresh and refreshing. Again just like everything else on the menu, the portions were sizeable, probably the largest out of any taster menu I have sampled. By the time our waiter brought out the Homemade Petit Fours, we were absolutely stuffed and ready to hit the sack. I still wasn’t going to say no to the Orange and Chocolat Macaroons followed by Salted Caramel Chocolates. They were the perfect finish to an absolutely brilliant meal.
I really like the fact that you don’t know what’s being served up till it lands on your table – I love my surprises and each dish definitely surprised me and not in a bad way either! The waiter gave us a scroll at the end of the meal with a description of the meal we enjoyed which I thought was a nice touch. I really enjoyed dining at The Kitchin. It’s rare that a chef’s vision comes to life with so much clarity but Tom Kitchin has somehow managed the impossible, bringing his ‘From Nature to Plate’ vision to every single dish that leaves the kitchen here. The cooking is accomplished but still maintains its roots with the fresh ingredients taking centre stage. It’s complex yet simple cooking and this balance of contrasts is why the Michelin starred Kitchin is one of the best restaurants in the country. And I couldn’t be happier that it’s not in London.