Our second foray into the world of Michelin starred lunching took us to The Kitchin. We’d previously lunched at their “sister” restaurant, Castle Terrace, where we’d been treated to some incredibly flavour-rich food, so expectations were set high.
MJ was a little less slavishly prompt than usual, so I had a generous swathe of time to survey my surroundings. The place has recently had a refit, and the result is really impressive. It makes stylish use of the space, with a excellent view of the workings of the kitchen (and Mr Kitchin, himself). It’s a welcoming set-up and not at all stuffy. And there’s quite a battalion of folks to welcome you. I reckon, counting kitchen staff, there were nearly twenty people working on the modestly sized premises, at this lunchtime. At the start of service, they more than outnumbered diners, but the room soon filled, making the staff seem much less obtrusive.
From their daily set lunch menu, I opted for crispy ox tongue, followed by rump cap of beef, while my super-elegant companion opted for seafood, with a brown crab salad followed by a fillet of hake.
A little dish of crudites soon appeared, accompanied by a blue cheese sauce. These were fine, if rather unremarkable. Nice looking bread arrived in a little hat.
Today’s amuse bouche was a chicken consommé, with grape, cabbage and pear. The consommé took me back to my childhood, as it tasted incredibly like Knorr chicken noodle soup. The cabbage made a good job of mimicking the noodles, too. This was an inauspicious start.
My starter arrived quickly and looked neat and tidy. The ox tongue wasn’t so much crispy as just plain tough. It was extremely tricky to cut. The melange beneath it had a good variety of textures, but was salty as a opposed to flavourful.
The main course beef continued that theme. The mini burger was full of soft chunky pieces, but the rump cap was totally forgettable, and the sauce bringing them together was indistinct salty brownness. The potato filled with bone marrow was ordinary, and for some reason there was a chunk of lettuce of the plate. The lettuce bore very little relation to the other elements of the dish. Overall, it was as ill thought-out and poorly executed as the starter.
The cheeseboard that followed, from the impressive cheese wagon, was really good, with the little range of hand-crafted oatcakes and crispbreads providing a nice array of different accompaniments for the cheese.
We took espresso in their beautifully airy bar section, at the front of the restaurant, but it was suffused with the over-roasted burnt taste that pervades so much of the poorly made coffee that plagues our fine Edinburgh restaurants. This was offset by the delightful petit fours, with the mini carrot cakes probably the finest thing I tasted on my entire visit.
In summary, The Kitchin is a super-stylish place, with excellent attentive service, serving neatly presented dishes. They don’t taste very good, though, making the overall experience completely forgettable. It left me entirely cold.
I’m not sure what exactly to say about the Kitchin, but I am fairly certain that no matter what I say, it won’t make a chip in the Kitchin’s stellar reputation which includes that prestigious Michelin Star.
When I arrived, B was already waiting on me (he is getting to be quite good and arriving before I do), and I was shown to a seat in a smart restaurant which was laid out for the comfort and privacy of the diners and to allow the staff to move about as silently and efficiently as possible.
The nice crudités and savoury biscuits were on the table waiting while we perused the menu, already sure we’d opt for the 3 course lunch special. I chose the crab salad followed by the hake and then the blood orange pudding to finish the meal.
Within moments someone whisked by and offered me a purse hook for the table and someone else brought out our amuse bouche, which was a light and tasty chicken consommé with cabbage, pear and grapes. It was light and tasty, with the pears and grapes in it adding an interesting element that really worked to add interest.
Before long, our starters came whizzing out, they were sat down and the lovely server told us what they were. My crab salad was served in a hollowed out crab shell and was fresh and light. I usually am not a fan of such things, but the lemon and flavours of the herbs and produce came through, but the notes of the delicate crab were hit and miss.
The bread was brought out in a wee tartan hat, a touch that made me smile. We were served 2 types of brown bread, a tomato roll and an olive roll. Both brown breads were tasty, though we both didn’t try the tomato or olive rolls.
After a short wait, wherein our glasses were never allowed to drop below a certain level of fullness, our mains arrived and were introduced to us. “Madame, this is a pan seared hake with ginger and carrot.” Nice to meet you, you look fresh and exciting!
The hake was well cooked and blended quite nicely with the carrot and ginger sauce (was it a ratatouille?) which was good, but didn’t manage to really blow my mind. And, looking at B’s richly coloured dish, I was pleased with my selection in comparison to B, but I won’t necessarily remember it after my next good dinner.
Next, a lovely cheese wagon arrived and B put himself at the mercy of the server’s choices, which seemed to be an excellent way forwards. The accompanying variety of crisp breads, sweet breads, bread and oat cakes was impressive in comparison to other places where B has ordered a cheesy finish to the meal. Also, B had a go at my blood orange dessert, which was lovely, but wasn’t for me.
Afterwards, we were served petit fours in the bar where B made faces at his coffee and surprised himself by liking the wee carrot cake bites. And just like that, we were back into the sunshine and on our way back up from Leith, wondering what in the world we could say about The Kitchin.
I think, that in comparison, the food at Castle Terrace was better, the cheese board at The Kitchin more interesting, as well as the location and the whole atmosphere of the place, including the serving staff, who work like a well-oiled machine. But will I rush back? Probably not.
Blythe scores The Kitchin:
2.5/5 for food
3.5/5 for presentation
4.5/5 for service
5/5 for setting
giving an overall 15.5/20
Miriam scores The Kitchin:
3/5 for food
3/5 for presentation
5/5 for service
4/5 for setting
giving an overall 15/20
Today’s questers were: Miriam, Blythe
We ate: crudities and blue cheese sauce, chicken consommé amuse bouche, brown crab salad, crispy ox tongue, hake with carrot and ginger, rump cap of beef with mini burger and bone marrow potato, cheeseboard, chocolate and seabuckthorn pave with blood orange and chocolate sorbet.
We drank: sparkly water, espresso
We wore: argyle socks, www.tieclub.co.uk tie
Total bill: c.£67