Back in 2013 I previously reviewed The Kitchin. Their philosophy ‘from nature to plate’, quality of cooking, service and the overall experience was above and beyond my expectations meaning I gave it my only 10/10. Since then the expansion of The Kitchin has taken place by knocking the wall down between the original ‘Kitchin’ and the restaurant next door. I was concerned that the changes would cause the restaurant to lose its charm and warmth.
These concerns were left outside; as soon as we entered we were greeted and taken to the bar area. The décor is still very minimalistic and is designed around the original stone and wooden features. While we sipped our aperitif we enjoyed a selection of homemade rye crackers served with a Moreish blue cheese dip.
When we moved through to the dining area I was surprised at how well they have managed to maintain the same atmosphere despite the expansion. The focus is still on the Kitchen, with a window allowing diners to see chef Tom Kitchin and his team at work. The passion for local produce is highlighted with all diners receiving a map to show where the ingredients are sourced.
As a table of four we all opted for the tasting menu. There is now an option to have two different tasting menus; ‘Chefs Classics’ and ‘Chef’s seasonal’. This gives the diners further choice and can suit different taste preferences. I opted for the ‘Seasonal’ however two of my fellow diners chose the ‘Classic’. We were given homemade warm crusty bread and soft butter to tuck into before the start of our 7 courses.
Our amuse bouche was titled ‘Carrot’. This was an absolutely delightful start to the meal. The Carrot Veloute was smooth and creamy with crème fraiche and apple adding a refreshing sharpness and lightness.
The pre starter of ‘Mackerel’ was to follow. This was line caught mackerel tartare from Newhaven. The fresh chopped fish was surrounded by a wall of thinly sliced cucumber which worked well as a palate cleanser against the oily fish. Crunchy bread croutons sat on top of the fish for added texture. Beetroot, quails egg and a lemon cream all complimented the fish perfectly.
Prior to our starter arriving we were impressed by the attention to detail shown by the waitress. Having spotted that one of our party was left handed on the previous course she made a point of setting the cutlery out differently for this diner from then on. This is just a small point, and would have made no difference to the overall experience if it hadn’t happened. However, it is just an example of the kind of thing that sets this restaurant apart from the others in my opinion.
The starter, titled ‘Partridge’ was one of the most outstanding dishes I have tasted. The partridge leg was tender and the stuffing delicious. This was served with creamy potato risotto which had a beautiful cheesey flavour and was the perfect partner for the partridge. The partridge brain was served on the side which certainly added a talking point and a bit of theatre.
The fish course was seared fillet of North Sea Hake. The fish flaked apart and was cooked perfectly. The dish overall was very light and was a well thought out as a following dish to the rich partridge course. The hake was served with a subtle fish mousse and wild Perthshire mushrooms which added an earthy element.
‘Mallard’ from the Borders was the star ingredient of the main course. The breast was served pink and was succulent and juicy but for me the confit leg was superior. The mallard was served with a carrot tatin and an orange sauce. This gave the gamey dish a sweet element and the sauce brought it all together beautifully.
Pre-dessert ‘Pear Sorbet’ was refreshing and cleansing. Very simple, but as a pear fan I was delighted at the amount of flavour the chef managed to get into the sorbet.
The dessert of ‘Sea Buckthorn’ certainly left a lasting impression at the end of an exceptional celebration of the season menu. The centre of the dish was a smooth, creamy panna cotta made from Knockraich Farm yoghurt. This was served with granny smith sorbet which had an intense flavour of apple. East Lothian Sea Buckthorn Consomme completed the dessert. The sea buckthorn was balanced well and the acidic citrus-like fruit was sweetened to perfection.
After our dessert we opted to go back to the bar area to enjoy our coffee. It wasn’t until I got home and reflected upon my copy of the menu that I noticed the only slight flaw in one of my most memorable meals; we did not receive the petit fours. I am not that concerned as I was completely blown away with the quality and quantity of food however the menu said ‘salted caramel chocolate’ which is my favourite.
To accompany the meal we opted for the tasting wines. Not only did the wine match perfectly with the dishes but the explanation to why they were chosen was impressive. This is one of the other small, but important, details that I feel sets the Kitchin apart from other Michelin star restaurants in Edinburgh. The somelier will explain the wine in great detail and highlight why it works with the food. Any other fine dining restaurants I have been to the wine and food are described separately which I find doesn’t make a lot of sense.
The service throughout was outstanding and very personal and I feel that the waiting staff really work as a team. Tom Kitchin and Maitre d’ Sylvain Ranc go above and beyond to make sure your experience is remarkable with the finest food and first rate service.
Price: £125 for 7 course tasting menu and matching wines
Food: Fine dining