30 October 2012

Lunch at The Kitchin, Edinburgh.



LAST YEAR on my birthday I visited one of Edinburgh’s Michelin starred eateries with the highest expectations; only for that expectation to turn into disappointment.  I regretted not visiting The Kitchin that night and hoped my visit this year round would go some way to rectifying that choice.

The restaurant was recently named eighth best restaurant in the UK and with the successful launch of a new cookbook, Kitchin Suppers, Chef Tom Kitchin’s reputation as one of the countries most talented chefs is ever rising.

It was a cold but sunny day as we walked into the bright reception/bar of the restaurant, taking in the lovely views of modern day Leith outside.   

Our table was ready, so straight in we went, noticing the large open panel where Tom’s chefs were beavering away for the lucky patrons of this full dining room.

Our server passed us our menus and placed down our crudités with Dunsyre Blue dip topped with buckwheat.  It tasted so good, I wanted to dip my finger in and polish it off!

Equally impressive was the amuse bouche; pheasant consomme with crispy bacon, apple and a nice citrus/aniseedy note.   
This had clearly been well thought out, not just the boring old gesture of some sort of Veloute or deep fried ball of something or other.

The dining room was very spacious and decorated elegantly, almost with an ‘in your living room’ effect.  Very pleasing to see a lot of younger diners out as well – something the Michelin scene can lack.

We placed our order and the sommelier talked us though the impressive wine list to match one to our pairings.  He was extremely knowledgeable and I even overheard him talking about one of the villages a certain wine had been produced in like he’d lived there all his life.

My ravioli of braised North Sea squid with langoustine bisque was sensational.  The bisque was light but packed with so much flavour I could have put it in a glass and drank it with a straw.  The ravioli was thin and packed with squid – great size of a portion, especially for lunch.

My partner had bone marrow with mushrooms and a stunning potato garnish (see picture). Tom’s famous for using lesser found cuts and this was a great example of his knowledge and technique produces dishes like this little gem.

Braised ox cheek with potato puree, baby onions and lardons awaited me.  I could cut the ox cheeks with the back of my knife.  The rich sauce and silky, smooth mash was the perfect dish to warm the cockles. 

You could see Tom Kitchin watching eagle-eyed in the kitchen, tasting, tasting and tasting to ensure every minute detail is perfect; you don’t become the youngest recipient of a Michelin star for nothing.

 Sarah’s poached guinea fowl from Burnside farm with celeriac, turnip, beetroot and gratinated polenta was just as good, and great to see the chef proudly showing off where his produce is sourced.   

The rich bird was so moist and just melted in your mouth, with earthy flavours from the winter veg being topped off by the melting sensation from the gratinated polenta.

Every great meal must come to an end but when the time comes, you most definitely want to end it with a dessert of this magnitude – Apple crumble soufflé with vanilla ice cream. 

The huge soufflé was equally risen and great to see it didn't come with the usual '20 minute wait for souffle' on the menu. The best part was getting that hot and cold sensation as your spoon unearthed the apple puree in the middle of the soufflé, which was as light as air.  The sweet, creamy ice cream counter acting the sharpness of the apple in this dessert you just didn’t want to stop eating.

I’d have cut my left arm off to stay for dinner.  From the Maitre d’ to the sommelier and the servers all were all a credit to themselves, and The Kitchin.  Tom’s ‘from nature to plate’ philosophy deserves to be championed and experienced by all.  If you haven’t been then The Kitchin needs to be at the top of your ‘places to eat’ list. 

Last year’s disaster was now a distant memory.

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