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The Kitchin, Edinburgh, restaurant review

Michelin star chef Tom Kitchin offers modern Scottish cuisine influenced by French cooking techniques in this chic converted whisky warehouse.

Published: March 16, 2015

This Michelin-starred nine-year-old eatery has been refurbished and extended into what was next door’s Chinese restaurant, Chop Chop.

I asked the waiter, who was wearing The Kitchin’s smart black uniform which includes the kilt, if the builders had found any residual dumplings in the pipes but, sadly, no.

Designed by chef patron Tom Kitchin’s wife Michaela, the new look manages to be luxurious but not straitlaced, classic yet quirky, Scottish but not Brigadoon-y. My bag even got its own seat – on a woolly stool that I named Sheepy.

There’s Timorous Beasties wallpaper, silver net placemats, bleached floors and a giant fish tank style fireplace, like Hades for guppies. My favourite detail is the wall of silver birch trunks, with that elemental clean woody smell that makes you want to strip off and run feral in a forest (or maybe that’s just me).

Lots of food for the eyes, but I could also wax lyrical about the actual edibles. We were presented with a whole sourdough that was like a freshly laundered puffball mushroom. Equally good: a basket full of ribbon-like rye crackers, the black versions of which were imbued with iodiney kelp and left a salty oily residue on one’s fingers.
The pre-starter – a chilled beetroot velouté with croutons and a Swedish cream – was light and frothy.

Just as well, as starter portions are monumental. My terrine of roe deer (£21) was introduced (like a Blind Date contestant) as being “from St Boswells” and was the size of a Wagon Wheel. It came with an assortment of pretty colourful things – pink (rhubarb), orange (fruity jelly and apricot dust), yellow (chunks of celeriac, which looked more like pineapple) and the green pistachios that studded the meat.

Despite the technicolour effect, this was an earthy dish. Still luxurious though. I found myself with a lump of foie gras in my gob at one point, and I’m not sure where it came from.

Our other starter – pig’s head and langoustine (£22) – featured a clod of shin meat that was rolled in a cumin powder, a soft langoustine tail and a “crispy ear salad” that consisted of lug bits, sauce gribiche, baby gem and apple.

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When the waiter described my John Dory main (£33), his mouth watered and he went all slurpy. A justified endorsement I think, as this dish featured huge chunks of fish and slippery sea kale in a buttery sweet emulsion.

There was even more work in the ox dish (£36), from the fried potato, cut to look like bone marrow and with a sticky filling of shallot jam, to the spiky Parisienne carrots, hunk of feathery meat, and a rich sauce as shiny as polished mahogany.

Puddings are symphonies of tasty bits. My square of pumpkin and chocolate gateaux (£11) was topped by a shiny quenelle of chocolate sorbet and surrounded by toasted pumpkin seeds, cubes of pumpkin jelly and amaretti biscuits that had soaked up the cocoa-y jus.

Meanwhile, the rhubarb (£11) option featured three cubes of baked crowdie cheesecake topped with wedges of poached rhubarb, sugar squares like lemony stained glass and loads of other accoutrements.
For those who enjoy celebrity chef spotting, during the meal we’d been able to see the back of Tom’s head through the glass aperture that divides the dining room and kitchen. You wouldn’t want to sit behind him at the cinema, but it was nice to know he’s still at the frontline, beavering away.

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Anyway, after all his lovely food, we had to be stretchered out onto Commercial Quay. I tried to take Sheepy with me, but he stayed to look after the handbag of the next diner. Maybe that will be your mummy, or maybe it’ll be you, because we all belong in The Kitchin.

The Kitchin

(78 Commercial St, Edinburgh EH6 6LX)


Dinner for two, excluding drinks

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Gaby Soutar is a lifestyle editor at The Scotsman. She has been reviewing restaurants for The Scotsman Magazine since 2007 and edits the weekly food pages.

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