March 5, 2012 Italian, Stockbridge 3 Comments

The Italian Kitchen's Exterior

MJ’s Verdict
On Sunday I met B at Hula Juice Bar for him to try porridge for the first time. Little did I know he’d be trying a latte for the first time too!

After a wonderful breakfast, we wandered on a city-side walk to the Arthur’s Seat, then to the beach and back to town. We found ourselves in Stockbridge around lunch time and settled on trying out The Italian Kitchen, which was situated in a basement locale near where the Sunday Market is held.

We were seated in the nice, purple walled dining area and given menus that were comprehensive, without being over the top like some Italian restaurants can try to be. There was a nice selection of starters, pastas, a few pizzas and a few desserts.

Small and well-appointed interior

I considered ordering the mussels for a starter and a pasta with a courgette and lemon-based sauce, but instead forewent the starter and ordered the linguini allo scoglio (linguini with seafood and shellfish in a cherry tomato sauce).

I had a feeling that this is one of those places where you go to stay for a while, really Italian in the way you are expected to linger over a bottle of wine and good chat. Sadly, we were on a training walk and were sans the wine, but there was plenty of good chat to be had!

B’s starter looked amazing. It was pretty, and if it tasted half as good as it looked he was in for a treat.

Linguini

Before we had finished out discussion about flying cats, our mains had arrived. My dish was nicely presented and was a good amount of pasta. The bits of seafood and shellfish were small but plentiful, with mussels around the plate that were better than the ones I had the Mussel Inn recently.

The tomato sauce was rich and well judged both in quantity and seasoning.

We were considering making a move for another handful of miles, when lo-and-behold, it began to chuck down hail! So we opted for coffee, which tasted a bit thin, or something.

I think I’d like to go back to the Italian Kitchen. It was good, and I could see myself there lingering with one of the bottles of DOCG wines that dot holders on the wall.

Blythe’s Verdict
I’ve grown very fond of Sundays, recently. Taking a turn around our magnificent city, in the company of a charming young lady, with good food to fuel us on our way is a jolly lovely way to spend day.

This day started with sunshine and rain. The rain was provided by the weather; the sunshine by Hula Juice Bar. But more of that tale, over at Total Food Geeks. By the time we’d walked to Portobello, then along the promenade to Joppa, the rain was off and it was a pleasant, if chilly, day. Our walk took us back towards town, during which we stopped at Morrison’s at Piershill, which by supermarket standards has a truly impressive array of herbs, fruit, vegetables and other whatnots.

our mains

For a change, I didn’t have an idea of where to go for lunch in my head, but after six or seven attempts to come up with a plan, we settled upon the Italian Kitchen, in Stockbridge. We stopped off at the thriving Stockbridge market, which pushed us over the edge from hungry to ravenous.

So, it was with considerable relief that we sat ourselves down in the Italian Kitchen’s light and airy surroundings. It’s notable how bright the place is, considering it’s below street level. They’ve done excellent work with the lighting to give the place a sunny feel.

Their new spring menu was full of tempting dishes, which were augmented by a few daily specials from the board. I deviated from my usual soup route, but in a highly predictable way, as Melanzane alla Parmegiana is pretty much my favourite dish of all time, so any mention of it on a menu, whether as a starter or main, usually has me ordering it up, straight away. Today, I had it as a starter, choosing their four cheese and rocket ravioli, from the board, as my main.

Our attendant waiter, who kept things relaxed, throughout, asked MJ, who had opted for just a main course, whether she wanted it to arrive with my starter or main, which I thought was a nice touch.

Melanzane alla Parmegiana

My melanzane arrived promptly and looked extremely pretty, and quite different to the usual baked lava (which I nevertheless love) that’s often served up. This neat tower, with alternating layers of aubergine, cherry tomatoes, and buffalo mozzarella with hints or basil in the drizzle around it. It’s exactly the way the dish should be served to best show off the quality of the ingredients in the Mediterranean classic.

Sadly, whilst the tomatoes were sweet, the mozzarella beautifully creamy, the aubergine still had too many notes of the bitterness. This is often the way with the aubergines you get in this country, which at least in part explains why the dish is routinely served with lots of volcanic tomato sauce. So, while this was a simple, stylish idea, the dish was let down by the quality of the main ingredient.

In a strange twist, the ravioli that followed was covered in way too much tomato sauce! The photo doesn’t quite do it justice, as the dish did still look very bonnie, but the surfeit of sauce did impact negatively upon things. The fresh ravioli was nicely made, with the cheese and rucola filling really well judged and subtle. But the tomato sauce, although very tasty in and of itself, was too powerful for it. It was a shame, because there was real potential for this to be an excellent dish, if it was a little better balanced.

Ravioli

So overall, the Italian Kitchen was really pretty good. Their neatly presented dishes showed some fresh and considered thinking, and would have been very good indeed if just a little more care had been taken to balance things more elegantly. We’ve been served very well on our Italian quests, and this place continued that trend. If you’re in the Stockbridge neighbourhood, I’d be more than happy to recommend that you pay the Italian Kitchen a visit.

extra touches

Scores

MJ scores the Italian Kitchen:
4/5 for food
4/5 for presentation
3.5/5 for service
3.5/5 for setting
giving an overall 15/20

Blythe scores the Italian Kitchen:
3.5/5 for food
4/5 for presentation
3.5/5 for service
3.5/5 for setting
giving an overall 14.5/20

Today’s questers were: Miriam, Blythe

We ate: Melanzane alla Parmegiana, seafood linguine, four cheese and rocket ravioli

We drank: sparkly water, espresso

We wore: action footwear, golfing trousers

Total bill: c.£40

Italian Kitchen
www.italian-kitchen.net

Italian Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Written by BKR