Dining at The Kitchin was unlike any culinary experience I have ever had, and I’ve eaten at many great restaurants in NYC and other parts of the world.
Kitchin is a Michelin star restaurant in the neighborhood of Leith, within greater Edinburgh. I was very pleased to have secured a reservation…well in advanced. Dining at Kitchin was something I was savoring in my mind’s mouth.
My reservation was on a Thursday, my last evening in Edinburgh. I had forgotten to have lunch that day between my jaunts.
It began to rain again as I arrived at the restaurant. The restaurant was still setting up. The hostess welcomed me and invited me to have a cocktail in their bar lounge as they were preparing my table. Looking through their list of drinks, one cocktail piqued my interest – sea buckthorn & ginger (The Kitchin’s sea buckthorn coulis, tanquery gin, and lemom shaken and served tall over ice and charded with ginger beer). It was the sea buckthorn that caught my interest. I’ve never heard of it and I as curious about it.
While I enjoyed my cocktail, they also brought out a lovely plate of crudités with a wonderful blue cheese dip; creamy, smooth, and pungent! It was a shame I was enjoying this alone.
I also had a look through of the menu while I sipped my refreshing cocktail. Everything sounded delectable! I was gutted that I wasn’t able to order everything off the menu and eat it all. I had a terrible time deciding what to choose, and then I noticed the surprise land and sea chef’s tasting menu. There was no description of what would be served, hence the “surprise”. While I pondered what I would eat, I noticed a figure in white approaching towards me. I immediately recognized him. It was Thomas Kitchin! His presence was unexpected. He came over to say hello. He extended his hand out to me. I was in the middle of stuffing my face with a piece of breadstick. I was honored that he made an appearance.
When my table was ready, I was led to the back dining area. The restaurant in general is decorated in rich colors and patterns. The lighting seemed dim but was well lit at the tables with bright halogen down lights. The lighting created a nice effect where it highlighted each table, creating a vignette of the other dining parties surrounded by shadow.
I was seated at a corner table, which gave me a view of the dining area. It was the perfect spot to observe the other guests especially being a single guest. The kitchen is located behind me. There is a long glass window that lets guests view inside the workings of a Michelin star kitchen.
The menu was presented to me again and decided to go with the chef’s surprise land and sea tasting menu. I met Thomas Kitchin. I believe he will prepare something delightful and wonderful. I surrendered to his talents as chef.
Like many tasting menus, there was also a separate wine accompaniment. If I was not dining alone, I would have indulged in the wines. Instead, I ordered a recommended glass of Pinot Noir Hautes-Cotes de Domaine Delegrange to accompany my meal, and it was divine!
The first course was chicken consommé served in a small bowl. Floating delicately was a single thinly slice of radish, tiny diced apples, chives, shredded cabbage and at the bottom, wild rice. The apple bits added a nice sweetness to the rich broth.
The next course was personally explained by Chef Kitchin! The Shellfish Rockpool is a bowl of West Coast shellfish served with sea vegetables in a warm shellfish consommé.*
Chef Kitchin talked about his family vacation to the beach where he and his son collected various elements along the beach and placed them in a pool that they made. And he finished his story by pouring a broth over the seafood.
I took a moment to admire the beautifully arranged pieces of seafood. There were tiny tentacles and a small cluster of bright orange salmon roe. A langoustine was looking curiously up at me. Local herbs and seaweed delicately placed, completing the sea world in a bowl. Each spoonful was different, and a delight. Sweet. Tender. Savory. Playful. Herbal. Pure. Explosive.
While I waited for the next course, one of the wait staff offered Thomas Kitchin’s cookbook. I flipped through the book randomly and ended up on the page describing the scallops from the Scottish seas, and an accompanied recipe that involved a pastry crust. Coincidentally, the next course was the same dish I was reading in the cookbook – hand-dived Orkney scallops baked in their shell and served with a white wine sauce.*
The waitress placed the plate down and proceeded to pry open pastry covered scallop. The scallop shell was huge! I’ve never seen scallop shells as big as the one presented before me. Inside were two large lumps of buttered and herbed scallops with diced tomatoes. The wonderful aroma of the butter, chives, and diced tomatoes wafted up from the opened shell.
When scallops are good, they are sweet and tender, and these Scottish scallops were exceptional. It was only the third course, and I was beginning to feel full.
The fourth course was an interesting one. It is called the Pig’s Head and Langoustine – boned and rolled pig’s head, served with roasted tail of langoustine from the Isle of Skye and a crispy ear salad.*
I had noticed this in the menu and didn’t quite understand what it was. It wasn’t until one of the guests at the table next to me asked the waiter. The waiter explained that they took the meat of the pig’s cheek and rolled it in pig’s skin. I’ve never had anything like this before, and I thought it was an interesting way to serve the pig’s cheek. It reminded me of pulled pork but without the heavy BBQ sauce. It was rich and savory. The pig’s cheek paired well with the sweet langoustine tail. I also enjoyed the contrast between the textures of the shredded pig’s cheek and meaty wholeness of the langoustine.
The next dish was a lovely white fish called Turbot – fillet of wild turbot from Scrabster, served with a ragout of Swiss chard, lemon and basil.* The fish was fried to golden perfection, and served over some diced vegetables and an aromatic stock with fresh herbs garnished on top. The fish was fabulous, breaking off in large flakes.
The final entrée was Roe Deer – roasted roe deer from the Borders served with roasted root vegetables and a pepper sauce.*
As you can see from the photo, the roe deer was served with autumnal root vegetables, apples, grape, chestnuts, endive, sautéed spinach, and sauce. The meat was cooked to perfection. It was incredibly tender and flavorful but not gamey. The accompanied fruits and vegge added varying tasting notes that enhanced the natural flavors of the roasted roe deer.
My fine meal did not end without dessert, and I was curious what they would surprise me with. I requested a pot of mint tea to have with my sweet treat. To my pleasure, they brought out a glass tea-pot of mint tea with real mint leaves and green tea. That is how mint tea should be served, the Moroccan way. This level of tea service impressed me very much. No other restaurant that I have been to has served me mint tea this way. It’s always from a tea bag.
Dessert was a lovely pumpkin tart – spiced pumpkin pave served with maple and pecan ice cream and candied pumpkin*, and petite fours – mini blueberry tart, chocolate truffle, chocolate and pistachio nougat, and an orange macaroon with chocolate ganache filling. This was a perfect end to an amazing meal!
Service was impeccable as expected from a restaurant of The Kitchin’s caliber regardless of the Michelin star. The maitre’d and wait staff were all professional and attentive. I appreciated their warmth and kindness from the moment I walked through the door to the very last second when I departed.
Dining at The Kitchin was the best 3 hours I have spent, and I would rank this experience in the top 5 best moments of my life!
My favorite dish of the evening was the shellfish rockpool. I appreciated the personal experiences that Chef Kitchin drew from to create this wonderful dish. I especially loved the presentation of the shellfish rockpool; a miniature sea-world in a bowl. I find joy in eating things cute and small!
And I couldn’t leave without taking home a copy of Thomas Kitchin’s cookbook, “From Nature to Plate”.
For more information about The Kitchin, the Chef, and what is currently on the menu, please click here.