Review: The Kitchin

Right guys, stick with me, this is gonna be a long post, cause we’ve got a lot to talk about! Last summer, Sam and I officially tied the knot, and we were lucky enough to receive some incredibly generous gifts from our loved ones. One of these gifts was a voucher for The Kitchin, Tom Kitchin’s Michelin-starred restaurant at the Shore in Edinburgh.

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We booked our table back in December – yes, we had to wait a whole six months for a free table – and last weekend the day finally arrived. We decided to go for lunch because, frankly, the dinner prices were a little out of our range, even with the voucher, and arrived promptly at the restaurant at 1.45pm for our 2.00pm slot.

Being that I’m incapable of arriving anything other than early, we were sat at the bar while we waited for our table to become available. We ordered some drinks and perused the food menu while we waited, accompanied by a range of flavoured crispbreads and dip. It’s those little unexpected extras that tell you you’re in for something special, and both the cocktails and the crispbreads were delicious – I recommend the Sloe champagne cocktail, with Sipsmith sloe gin, elderflower and lemon.

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While we sipped, we were given the menu to peruse, which included a full A La Carte menu, the set lunch, and a couple of tasting menus. When we first looked at the set lunch menu, which is the most reasonably priced at £33 for three courses, we weren’t particularly enamoured with the choices, and Sam tried to suggest we go all out and order the full Chef’s Surprise six course tasting menu but considering that would have set us back a hefty £170, we decided against it!

As we were taken to our table and asked if we were ready to order, our faces clearly reeked of indecision, so the waitress explained that all of the menus were interchangeable, for example, you could pay a supplement to add an a la carte dish into the set lunch menu, which helped massively with our decision. In the end we decided to stick with the set lunch menu with matching wines, but I swapped my starter for one from the a la carte.

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After the stress of ordering was over, we were able to really take in our surroundings and the experience. A huge window pane allows diners to peer into the working kitchen, where the famous Tom Kitchin could be seen carefully monitoring the food that came to the pass, and the restaurant was tastefully decorated to reflect the ethos: from nature to plate. The entire menu is based on the finest Scottish food, with fresh, in season produce arriving daily at the restaurant. Each diner is even given a souvenir map of Scotland that shows where today’s produce has come from. We studied the map as we munched on fresh sourdough with house made salted butter, which was closely followed by our amouse bouche – a veloute of ginger, citrus and spring vegetables, which was bursting with texture and flavour despite its small size.

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My a la carte starter was “Pigs Head and Langoustine”, consisting of boned and rolled pigs head, crispy pigs ear ‘salad’, langoustine tails, and the langoustine claw meat grilled with escargot butter served on the side. It was a really substantial dish, much bigger than I expected, and absolutely stunning. The langoustines were perfectly cooked with that lovely natural sweetness, the pigs head was salty and soft, the meat just melted in the mouth. The pigs ear had actually been shredded and then deep fried in a sort of tuile or crisp and had the texture and crunch of crackling. The langoustine claw meat had been placed in the cleaned-out heads and served on the side grilled with escargot (snail) butter.

Sam, in the end, decided to stick to the set lunch menu because he figured, even if it doesn’t sound that great, its coming from a Michelin-starred kitchen, it will always be better than you expect, and he was right! He went for the shellfish starter, which consisted of mussels, razor clams and cockles, which had been cooked in the same snail butter as my langoustine claws. The rich, salty butter went perfectly with the delicate shellfish, although it was clear to see the difference between an a la carte starter and a set lunch one – mine was much more substantial!

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That all changed though when we came to our main course. I, perhaps foolishly, opted for another pork dish. This time featuring a braised Clash Farm pork rib, pluma fillet, courgette and basil puree, stuffed baby tomato and a pork and chorizo jus. The rib was delicious, beautifully slow cooked, and the fillet was still tender, and I really loved that fresh, herbaceous flavour from the courgette and basil puree, but my starter was far superior, and more filling!

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Sam’s main however, was the opposite! He opted for the risotto of braised North Sea squid, seared coley fillet and sea purslane, which was quite a substantial dish and full of flavour. The ‘risotto American’ which was the base for the dish is one of the best risottos Sam claims he has ever tasted and, as expected, the fish was cooked to perfection. It was topped with a seaweed tuile, along with some lightly grilled squid.

These dishes were further enhanced by the matching wines we had ordered, and it was really interesting to see what each of us had been given, especially considering how different our dishes were. Where I received a slightly sweet but dry white with my starter, Sam’s seafood was paired with a delicate rose. I expected Sam’s coley dish to be paired with white, but both of our dishes were paired with red, although it was clear to see just by looking at them that his was much lighter and more delicate than my rich red.

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Me being a sweet tooth, I was very much looking forward to dessert, and opted for the Strawberry and Vanilla dish, with layers of vanilla cream, Blacketyside strawberries and meringue, strawberry sauce and strawberry sorbet, while Sam ordered the lemon souffle with lemon curd and Knockraich Farm yoghurt ice cream. I have to admit, when I saw Sam’s beautifully risen souffle coming towards us, I was worried I would regret my choice, but I had nothing to worry about. Considering my dish was basically meringue, cream and a sorbet, the amount of flavour in it was unbelievable. The strawberry sorbet is one of the best I’ve ever tasted in my life. It was so incredibly fresh and helped even out the sweetness from the thin layers of meringue and vanilla cream. It was awesome.

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Unable to resist, Sam had supplemented his lunch menu to include a cheese course, and the incredible cheese cart was brought to our table for him to choose from. All of the cheese is made in the UK, and diners can choose a soft, hard and blue cheese, as well as one or two of their more unusual goat and assorted cheeses. It was an amazing array of cheese, but I’m glad I stuck to my three courses as by this point I was fit to burst!

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With the supplements, our pre-lunch drinks and the matching wines, and minus our voucher, the meal came to £122. Not cheap by any means, and I don’t think I would go back unless it was for a special occasion, but it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience with excellent food, incredible service, and a knowledgeable sommelier who paired some beautiful wines with our meal. If you want that Michelin-starred experience, you have to be prepared to pay for it, and it truly is an altogether different and very special way of eating, it’s no wonder there’s a six-month wait for tables. Hey, if you book now, maybe you’ll get in in time for Christmas?!

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