Great Places to Eat in Scotland
- The Kitchin, Leith, Edinburgh

The Kitchin

The Location
Commercial Quay, off Commercial Street, Leith, should be renamed Restaurant Row. This cobbled pedestrian precinct is an attractive place for an evening out - it's very convenient for diners with a large car park opposite the Scottish Executive building. You'll find a series of international restaurants, many with outside seating beside the narrow canal for summertime drinks or lunch and ideal for smokers year round. French, Indian or Mexican, there's a restaurant here for you. But now at number 78 there's a newcomer in town. Formerly Palourde, Hugo and The Rock as the property changed hands over previous years, The Kitchin opened in summer 2006. Cuisine? Modern Scottish with classic French undertones.

The Restaurant

Head Chef Tom Kitchin has the perfect name to open his eponymous restaurant in close collaboration with his wife Michaela as restaurant manager. Originally from Edinburgh, he has worked all over Europe in many of the world's finest restaurants, training and perfecting his skills under top Michelin star chefs, Pierre Koffman, Guy Savoy and Alain Ducasse. The emphasis is on creating a fine dining experience yet the mood is casual and relaxing. Sit for a while in the oh-so-comfortable cocktail bar while you study the menu and enjoy a glass of fizz perhaps. The interior design is cool and contemporary, with polished chestnut-coloured wood floors, steel grey walls and petrol blue armchairs. Then around the corner (past floor to ceiling wine cabinets) you walk into the intimate, softly lit restaurant, decorated with silver silk leaf patterned wallpaper, dark wood tables, fresh flowers and candles. For added entertainment an open window offers a fine view of the theatre kitchen with its hanging racks of glistening pans and the chefs hard at work. The Kitchin offers excellent wheelchair user access and facilities.

In January 2007, The Kitchin became only the third restaurant in Edinburgh to win a coveted Michelin Star for excellence. Which was quite an achievement for a restaurant that had opened only just over six months previously!

The Food
The philosophy of The Kitchin is From Nature to Plate. The ingredients are always fresh and seasonal. The provenance of the food served is of vital importance to Tom Kitchin who claims that you will not be served asparagus in December, even if it can be sourced from overseas. Vegetables, poultry, game and fish will all be sourced locally and across Scotland. The menu offers specials each night according to fish in the market that day. On this particular night, starters included hand dived West Coast Scallops, delicately seared with a tasty fricassee of ceps, rocket leaves with a sprinkle of parmesan. The freshness of every ingredient was outstanding -a simple but truly exceptional dish.

Also tried and tested was Tartare of Mackerel served with a tiny quail's egg and cucumber and beetroot dressing. Again a cacophony of fresh flavours to get the taste buds zinging. Alternative starters included Foie Gras served (most inventively) with roasted apple and blackberries. For main courses, fish lovers will have a field day with an excellent choice (depending on the season). My selection of Wild Turbot was served with Scottish girolles and artichoke. Unfortunately the supersize portion of tiny girolle mushrooms in a rich jus, swamped and smothered the distinctive flavour of the fish. Poached Monkfish scented with touch of saffron, served with spinach, capers and diced vegetables was voted first class by my partner. For meat eaters, there was a choice of Wild Scottish Mallard duck, with braised cabbage, and Scottish Grouse, cooked whole on the bone.

Following the typical top notch Michelin star restaurant style of dining, you can expect several little extras and a surprise amuse bouche. Before our starter course, we were presented with a tray of nibbles and dips - olives, salt cod puree, tapenade and wafer thin crispbread. There was also choice of home made bread such as sun dried tomato or sour dough. As you would expect, the Kitchin wine list is carefully collated with house wines including a South African Chenin Blanc and Chilean Santa Ema, besides well priced New Zealand, Sauvignon Blanc and Fleurie Beaujolais. Top marks too for serving Prosecco by the glass (£5.00).

To finish, the choice of desserts is well composed with light fruit-based dishes such as Gratin of Figs & Blackberries, ice cream and sorbets as well as classic Chocolate Tarte and Cheese plate.

Throughout the meal, the service was utterly professional and attentive, and the overall mood and atmosphere was conducive to a relaxing evening. The restaurant was buzzing with couples of all ages and a large party table - everyone thoroughly enjoying the exceptional standard of food and overall dining experience. On this Friday evening, the restaurant was fully booked with tables turning over two or three times between 7 and 10pm. After just a few months since opening, many diners have returned on a regular basis.

The Bill
See for current menu and prices.

Further Information
For further information, see The Kitchin Web site or e-mail The Kitchin is at 78 Commercial Quay, Leith. Telephone number is 0131 555 1755.

Inspired and influenced by working alongside some of the most acclaimed chefs in Paris and Monte Carlo, Tom Kitchin has now created his own individual, artistic style of cuisine. Dining at The Kitchin is not just about exemplary, freshly prepared food; it's the genuinely warm welcome and sense of style and sophistication without formality and fuss. Everything is polished from the shiny tables to the immaculate service. This is a class act and highly recommended for people who enjoy seriously good food.

Previous diners have also been extremely enthusiastic about The Kitchin:

"This is a real Chef's kitchen, fantastic food, superb atmosphere and delightful service". Ron McDonald.

"The food was frankly fantastic. A very welcome addition to Edinburgh's top restaurants" Mouse

Vivien Devlin
November 2006

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