- Soil Association
- Spring - Restaurant review The Kitchin
Restaurant review - The Kitchin, Edinburgh
I will remember it as a perfect destination for special occasions.Suzanne Black
Heaven’s Kitchin – fine dining with an environmental conscience
Author, Suzanne Black
The plate in front of me resembles a work of art more than food. What was described on the menu as a rhubarb cheesecake is in reality an exquisite array of cheesecake squares, glistening rhubarb, translucent nut brittle, pink sorbet and a delicate macaron arranged like semi-precious petit fours. This is the moment during the meal when I realise how far lunch at The Kitchin goes beyond mere food.
Having lived in Edinburgh’s Port of Leith previously, I was aware of the renowned restaurant owned by chef Tom Kitchin and his wife Michaela as well as the Michelin Star it garnered almost as soon as it opened in 2006. I took an old friend for a catch-up over the vegetarian set lunch menu, which promised to deliver Kitchin’s ethos of “from nature to plate”.
Arriving first I was solicitously ushered into a tasteful yet understated dining room with gunmetal girders and natural wood features containing a variety of smaller dining areas. With my coat whisked away, my bag given its very own stool to perch on next to my armchair and a complimentary glass of fizz, I was feeling slightly over-awed by the sheer class of the establishment. Before too long my dining companion joined me and the combined efforts of a series of attentive servers made me feel very welcome.
Having previously heard about Kitchin’s reputation for the more obscure carnivorous dishes, such as sweetbreads, I was surprised and delighted to discover that the vegetarian set lunch menu offered three options each for starter, main and dessert, which is enough to make any vegetarian feel spoilt for choice. After speculating on what some of the more unusual menu terms meant – I have to admit, ‘velouté’ was new to me – we made our selections.
At this point, small and intricate dishes began to appear in rapid succession and I was worried that they had confused our order with that of another table. The first was comprised of thin, crispy breadsticks flavoured with honey or sesame accompanied by a Crowdie cheese dip. This was my first introduction to Crowdie, which is one of Scotland’s oldest varieties of cheese and is a traditional snack to line the stomach before a ceilidh. It would inadvertently become a feature of my meal. This was swiftly followed by a heavenly-smelling round of bread nestled in a little jacket like an upside-down tea-cosy. Then came an appetiser of a pot of creamy and crunchy salad. The servers took great care to describe the elements of each dish, often stressing the ingredients’ sources and sustainability. They also gave us little scrolls which revealed a map of Scotland locating the origins of our menu’s ingredients, which was both informative and provided a nice keepsake.
We had already enjoyed three varied and delicious courses before the starter and by the time it arrived, the tone had already been set: this was an experience, not just a good meal. There was something magical about the parade of tantalising culinary masterpieces, each more wondrous than the last. I adventurously tried the wild herb velouté, which turned out to be a delicious thick and frothy soup that had three succulent Crowdie tortellini in the centre. My companion had a colourful mound of sea kale studded with orange and candied walnuts. For the main course, my carrot tatin consisted of discs of Crowdie and sweet carrot atop a slender pastry base, surrounded by a constellation of geometrically cut vegetables. Each bite was as tasty as it was attractive and I would have been left wanting more had there not been so many other delectable courses.
Over our desserts – my rhubarb-themed gems and my companion’s majestically billowing apple crumble soufflé – we were intoxicated by the good food and sense of occasion. I had expected a delicious three-course lunch but I received something more: an event-worthy afternoon of unusual and, without exception, wonderful food. I had always considered The Kitchen to expensive but with the set lunch priced at £29.50 – it was so expansive that I couldn’t eat dinner.
It is clear that The Kitchin aims to create something special and they manage this while retaining a comfortable and accessible atmosphere. Their passion for using local, sustainable, organic and seasonal produce is matched only by their passion for delivering it in an exceptional manner.
The Kitchin, 78 Commercial Quay, Edinburgh, EH6 6LX, 0131 555 1755, thekitchin.com