[Edinburgh] The Kitchin
I had a lot of dining recommendations for my trip to Scotland, but The Kitchin is the one I was looking forward to the most. Of my entire U.K. expedition, this was one of the two most memorable meals (the other being a grouse dinner I have yet to write up). A stunningly glorious meal as I am still recalling the most amazing razor clam I have ever tasted...
Dampierre 1er Cru Cuvée des Ambassadeurs, Champagne, France N/V
Amuse – Cauliflower soup with apple and crème Fraiche. A simple way to start a meal, but already showing bold moves to put a crème fraiche in a white, creamy soup. One would anticipate too similar textures being boring, but it was anything but. So often a cream of any vegetable soup tends towards the grainy, but this was absolutely perfectly smooth with a subtle base of coriander and the crème fraiche was not a hindrance in any way. The single beet root slice was eaten almost immediately and I regret not savoring it more slowly with the rest of the soup.
Dry Riesling Donhoff, Nahe, Germany, 2007
Razorfish (Spoots) from Arisaig, served with diced vegetables, chorizo, and lemon confit. Largest razor clam I have every seen; eight inches at least in length. It was studded with the smallest brunoise I have ever experienced with only the bites of razor clam being slightly larger than the vegetables. I had initially dismissed any additional servings of bread as I did not want to fill up, but in experiencing the elegance of the creamy lemon confit beurre blanc, I requested more bread to get every drop. It was that good.
Chardonnay Swamp Reserve, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand, 2006
Snails & Bone Marrow – roasted bone marrow served with sautéed snails from Devon, Iberico ham, and Scottish grolles with quail egg.
As with the razor clam, I was astonished at the size of the serving. In this case, the marrow was served “open face” with all the marrow easily accessible under the unctuous offering of snails, quail egg, and ham. My only complaint on the dish was that only a small toast bit was offered to scoop up the ample marrow, but I still had some bread left so all was fine. Intensely rich, the snails were not at all chewy with the addition of the Iberico ham being the only non-Scottish ingredient in the dish. Rich and satisfying, I knew I had to start pacing myself based on the confluence of flavors being presented.
Trimbach Gewurtztraminer, Alsace, France 2006
Pig’s Head & Langoustine, boned and rolled pig’s head, served with roasted tail of langoustine from Anstruther, and a crispy ear salad.
Inside was pork cheek and on top, fried pig ear. Bringing it all together was a collection of wilted lettuce greens, a creamy sauce akin to the most decadent tartare, and a rich circle of sauce. The langostine was perfectly cooked with no hint of being either under cooked and flabby or overcooked and hard. The thin layer of fried slivered pigs ears provided a great salt and textural crunch to the richness of the pig jowl.
Pinot Noir Hautes Cotes de Beaune, Domaine Delagrange, Burgundy, France, 2006
Poached halibut from Scrabster, served with ink pasta and a samphire sauce. I have to admit that I am not sure what samphire sauce is. With bits of saffron, I can honestly say I have never had a more stunningly perfect hunk of halibut. The “asparagus of the sea” bites were a bright juxtaposition of crunchy delight next to the tender and smooth fish and vegetables. Hints of saffron brought the dish together.
Mourvedre Yalumba, Borassa Valley, Australia, 2007
Venison – saddle of roe deer from Humbie, served with pumpkin, celeriac, roasted apple from Moira’s garden, and pepper sauce. A rather classic example of a protein offering with a root vegetable puree, a few slivers of vegetable that are fried to offer a crunchy texture, and some wilted greens. So incredibly tender
Mas Ameil, Maury, France, 2007
Cheese; Gabietou (ewe), Trappes (walnut cheese), Mont Briac (South France), Criffel (Dumfries), and Ealisa Craig (goat). Gorgeous cheese cart and points on being offered a wide selection of Scottish cheeses.
Recioto Della Valpolicelloa, Tommasi, Italy, 2006
Dark chocolate tart with served figs, chestnuts, and port ice cream. A perfect culmination to a fabulous evening. I have gotten tired of U.S. restaurants feeling the need to offer two and three desserts. One is fine for me and this was neither too sweet nor too heavy. I am only used to California figs and these Turkish offerings are milder and fatter.
A note on service; the waiters and waitresses are definitely international – from Australia, Barcelona, and France. They were young, energetic, and provided impeccable service without being over-bearing. I had to laugh that two or three times my napkin slid off my lap to the floor. Before I could realize it, a brand new cloth was offered even though the "dirty" one that had hit the floor would have sufficed. The room is elegant and modern. I am glad I had an early seating for a Friday night, there were two large parties which arrived at 8:00ish made the room rather loud. But I have found a reason to return to Edinburgh to eat Kitchin's stunningly brilliant food.
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What a great write-up for what was obviously a fabulous meal. Care to volunteer the cost? I haven't been to Scotland in a few years but we had a great dinner in Glasgow that showcased regional foods. I think there's still a strong international predudice against UK food, i.e., boring. You sure put that to rest. Somehow I don't think my chicken salad sandwich is going to be quite as satisfying after reading your review.
re: c oliver
C Oliver, I'll be happy to tell you how much when I come across the receipt. I just arrived back in San Francisco less than 12 hours ago and am just now going through my notes and pictures for write-ups, but haven't dealt with receipts yet. I just ate and handed over the credit card...
I will have a few Glasgow write-ups as well in the next few days!
re: c oliver
Thanks for the review. I'm really happy that this meal was brilliant for you. There had been some talk as to how the Kichin kitchen (sorry, couldn't help myself) had slipped. I was very impressed with Tom Kichin's cooking when he was on several TV shows over here, and I'm definitely going to book a table next time I'm up there to visit a cousin.