It wasn’t kitsch

The Kitchin, Edinburgh

The Kitchin was recommended to us as one of Edinburgh’s best dining establishments; Kitchin being the surname of the couple who run it. It has quite an elegant dining room (although I wish they wouldn’t play background music) so we had good thoughts as we sat down.

Then we read the wine list. Daniel laughed at my yelps and grunts of disbelief. The mark-ups would make even the greediest London sommelier squeal with uncontrollable delight. Are the locals, who have a reputation for being frugal, really willing to pay such ludicrous prices or is wine only chosen by tourists? We picked an incredibly simple (and so rather dull) Brundlmayer Gruner Veltliner which was vaguely insulting to have to pay £32 for, and a perfectly acceptable bottle of Sancerre Rouge from Lucien Crochet, which clocked in at £41. Phew! They just about served their purpose and we didn’t want to get robbed buying anything grander.

I then turned my attention to the menu, and my mood began to lift immediately, there were lots of things I fancied. In view of this, we decided to go for the £60 surprise tasting menu. We chose well.

As an amuse-bouche they served a chilled beetroot soup with horseradish creme fraiche and tiny cubes of apple. The outstanding quality about it was the clarity of flavours. I would have liked a touch more horseradish creme fraiche, as I really like the stuff, but the balance was perfectly fine as it was.

My mood was improved even further when the next course was presented; a carpaccio of scallops served with apple, dried cranberry and citrus dressing. The scallops were not fridge-cold, so they carried their rich, mouth-coating flavour brilliantly. The accompaniments balanced the flavours of the scallops wonderfully. This was properly good food so by this stage it was clear we were in the hands of an accomplished chef.

When we we told the next dish was razor clams (‘spoots’ in the local lingo), my heart sank. Whenever I’ve had these in the UK they are invariably tough as old boots with bugger-all flavour. Not tonight. The key with them, it seems, it to slice them up into thin little discs and cook them hilariously quickly. They were totally delicious, and worked well with the accompanying miniscule cubes of vegetables and chorizo with a sliver of confit lime. Brilliant, brilliant, lemon brilliant[ref]To understand this joke I suggest you watch the film ‘In The Loop’ by Armando Iannucci. It is a hilarious film.[/ref].

As the next dish was brought to the table a subtle aroma of garlic filled the room. It was organic snails from Devon with Frog’s legs served with a wild garlic sauce. I love snails and these were cooked with skill and style. The frogs legs were meltingly tender and perfectly matched by the quite delicious sauce. Another hit.

The piece of red mullet that came with the next course was vanishingly small, but was cooked with skill. However, we both preferred the crab-stuffed squid ink ravioli that came with them. Incredible concentration of both flavours. Yum.

Finally a red wine-friendly dish came along. Rump and crispy belly of lamb served with a piece of kidney and a compote of red onions. The lamb was top meat, particularly the slow-cooked then crisped-up belly, and it was all prepared with obvious care. Surprisingly the kidney did not taste of piss, and was quite nice.

The selection of desserts were also really well made, a souffle was particularly tasty. We could have chosen a cheese course instead for an extra tenner, and it did look like they had a serious cheese trolley, but the desserts served us just fine.

Apart from the horror of the wine-list mark-ups we really enjoyed the experience. A good dining room, excellent, local ingredients prepared with class and imagination; those are the kinds of things that make us happy. Worth a visit should you be in Edinburgh, a really good one star.

Contact details, menus and the like are on their website.

Tomorrow’s report from Edinburgh will be a review of The Atrium.

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