The Kitchin - part of Leith’s holy trinity of Michelin-starred restaurants (along with The Plumed Horse and Restaurant Martin Wishart), is the eponymous eaterie of Masterchef and Great British Menu alumnus Tom Kitchin. We went for my friend Sally’s leaving party after she requested a memorable last night in Edinburgh, and I’m pleased to report that The Kitchin served up an evening that was indeed memorable, in the most positive way.
Throwing caution to the wind, myself, Sally, and 3 other greedy foodie friends all opted for the Land and Sea Surprise Tasting Menu, which was priced at £65. Cheap, no, but for 8 unusual, exceptionally-executed and utterly delicious courses it delivered, in my mind, indisputable value for money. The full is menu below but for the sake of brevity I’ve pulled out a couple of personal highlights from an all-round superb meal.
First up, our third course of the evening, Arisaig Spoots (razor clams), which were served very pleasingly in their shells with finely diced vegetables, chorizo and lemon confit. For me, this course really demonstrated Kitchin’s flair for creating food that is both delicate and mouth-filling, not to mention packed with flavour. The dish was warm and creamy, with the faint smokiness of the chorizo and subtle citrus of the confit providing understated base notes that let the fresh flavour of the clams shine effortlessly through.
The next special mention must go to our “middle course” of rolled pig’s head with scallop and sautéed pig ear. Straying into controversial offle territory, even the most intrepid diners at the table cocked a dubious eyebrow – but fears were quickly allayed by meat (resembling nothing like a pig’s head, as it happens, and tasting more like shredded pork belly) that fell effortlessly apart on the fork and a golden, caramelly, gloriously crispy pig’s ear which could be described, with no amount of exaggeration, as the sort of pork scratching they might serve in heaven.
Dessert was a fresh-but-velvety cherry soup that found the perfect balance of tart, sweet and juice. Accompanied by a silken champagne mousse and gently fizzy champagne sorbet, it comprehensively demolished, with one sublime bite, my twin prejudices against fruit-based puddings and champagne that doesn’t come served in a glass. Rounding off 6 previous courses, I found it a very well-judged conclusion to the meal, proffering the palette that post-main snatch of sweetness without being cloying or filling. At Kitchin, you lay down your cutlery feeling not stuffed, just pleasantly full, and very very satisfied.
The star of Tom’s Kitchin is unquestionably the food, but undeservedly brief mention must also go to the attentive and patient serving staff – they really know their stuff – and to Tom himself, that clever and kindly poodle, who invited our Wakefield-bound Sally into the Kitchin as a special adios.
To shamelessly tear apart a metaphor, the Kitchin may see you spending considerable bucks - but you’ll certainly get a very big and delicious bang for them. Start saving!
Tom Kitchin's Land and Sea Surprise Tasting Menu (3rd June 2010)
Appetiser: Beetroot soup served with creme fraiche
Sea Trout: Tartare of sea trout from Montrose, served with apple, beetroot and a lemon creme fraiche dressing
Razor Clams (Spoots): Razor clams from Arisaig, cooked to order and served with diced vegetables, chorizo and lemon confit
Pig’s Head & Scallop: Boned and rolled pig’s head, served with seared hand-dived Orkney scallop, and a crispy ear salad
Sea Bass: Roasted fillet of wild sea bass from Mr Pullar served with wild garlic gnocchi and local St George’s mushrooms
Lamb: First of the season rack of spring lamb, sourced by Peter Flockhart and served with asparagus and asparagus puree
Dessert: Cherry soup served with champagne mousse and a champagne sorbet
Coffee and petits fours