Food Tourist:- The Kitchin by Tom Kitchin, Leith

When visiting Edinburgh for work recently, I opted to stay in the now trendy area of Leith, but once the scene of Trainspotting. It’s only a few mile from the city of Edinburgh and easily accessible.

The area has really gone through a revival with an abundance of new residencies which in turn has led to a surge in bars and restaurants, with one of the most famous being Tom Kitchin’s very own The Kitchin.

Opened in 2006 by Tom and Michaela Kitchin, the Michelin Starred restaurant can be found within part of the old docks area of Leith. Fronted by stone and cobbles, from the outside, its hard to know what you are going to get, but once you step inside you are transferred to a warm and homely environment. Stone, wood and furs are softened by clever lighting to create a relaxed and homely setting. The shades of greens, greys, browns and blues are almost creating a tartan like effect throughout the dining room.

Stone walls separating some of the tables look rustic, whilst also helping to create an attachment with nature, a theme that continues into the menu itself.

Priding itself on using seasonal produce, Tom’s philosophy is ‘From Nature to Plate’ and the restaurant aims to work with some of the best of Scottish produce.

I start off with a drink in the bar which is served with a canapé of rye crackers, made three ways. Rock Salt starts off my selection, an ideal drink accompaniment. Secondly I try the squid ink rye with its flavour punch being pleasant and enjoyable,  finally a honey and oat rye, how Scottish could you get.

I am shown to my table, which is just yards away from the open kitchen area where Tom Kitchin himself is standing, ensuring that his brigade are executing his dishes to his high standards.

Freshly baked sourdough and butter is placed in front of me with a smile and an explanation, this is joined with a map that details where all the ingredient have been sourced throughout Scotland, from the freshly caught fish to the locally produced butter.

I’m then served a chilled tomato consomme, which when tried was refreshing yet complex. Fresh cherry tomatoes burst in the mouth, balanced by black olive and cucumber, creating a dish that is a perfect blend of sweet and salty, which sets me up for the main menu.

I choose my starter of Pig’s Head & Langoustine. Boned and rolled pig’s head, roasted tail of langoustine from Tobermory and crispy ear salad is served, it consists of tender and juicy pork meat which just melts in the mouth and is topped with a thin crisp of pigs ears and langoustine tails.

The tails are perfectly cooked and flavours are elegant, whilst the pigs ear crisp is wafer thin yet crunchy, giving the an immense flavour of pork scratchings, the combination of flavours and textures are once again a true work of art. This is a perfect example of taking a few components and making them shine on the plate.

The langoustine claw meat is also served, cooked and topped with escargot butter and served in the shell, its sweet and succulent and I love each mouthful.

This is an ultimate surf and turf dish for me and leaves me excited for the second course.

Next up comes the main of North Sea wild halibut, smoked to order on oak chips, parsley purée and horseradish cream potatoes.

I start to get the aroma of the smoked oak a small while before I even see the fish dish approaching from behind. A stunning colour of smoke is contrasted against the bright green of the parsley purée.

The fish falls apart as I move towards it with my cutlery and the flavour of oak dominates the palette as I taste it, before mixing it with the purée which brings balance. I did fear slightly that the side of potatoes is going to be lost with such a powerful flavour in the protein itself, however I needn’t have worried. The flavour explosion as I try the potato is welcomed. The horseradish is clearly present and the seasoning spot on, why was I even questioning it, they have a Michelin Star for a reason!!

Finally I choose the dessert of Dark Chocolate soufflé, salted caramel sauce and caramelised Scottish honey ice cream.

Light, fluffy and rich, the soufflé had a bitter chocolate flavour which when mixed with the salted caramel and the ice cream gave a sweet, salty and bitter combo that danced on your tastebuds and was the perfect ending to the meal.

None of the dishes are pretentious, instead emphasis is on the flavours. Nobody in the restaurant was dressed up to the nines, instead people were relaxed and comfortable in their surroundings.

All of the food that I choose was on the a la carte menu, however there is also an option of a 5 course tasting menu where the chef surprises you, partly decided on what local specials he has managed to get his hands on that day. Whilst there I did see a few couples enjoying either the standard tasting menu, or the ‘ultimate’ which pushes the luxury ingredients into the spotlight. These are served without seeing a menu and gives you the chance to really see some creative flair.

During my visit I was also lucky enough to get an invitation to join Tom Kitchin in the kitchen for a chat. We discussed how the Manchester restaurant scene has strong parallels with Edinburgh, with its emphasis on local and quality, it’s always great to see so much passion and commitment in dishes and I can see why people would return to this restaurant time and time again.

I have to say that every minute of the experience was spot on. The food was faultless, the portions were more than sufficient, the service was attentive and have to say that every front of house member I met was a pleasure to interact with.

This is what dining experiences are all about – Thank You!

The Kitchin can be found at 78 Commercial Street (EH6 6LX) opposite the scottish government, building in Leith – Check out the website and make your reservations here




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