The Kitchin: From nature to plate

Many restaurants may claim that they operate a nature to plate philosophy, but few do it with as much passion and commitment as the Kitchin. Based on a recent visit, the Kitchin fully deserves its Michelin star, which it has held since 2007. Located in the redeveloped Leith waterfront area, just on the edge of Edinburgh, the venue both looks and feels distinctly modern but still manages successfully to show reverence for the past. My pre-dinner cocktail, enjoyed in the light and airy bar at the front of the venue, perhaps set the scene and tells you a lot about what the Kitchin is trying to achieve. For the uninitiated, a ‘Timorous Beastie’ is a house concoction combining a 12-year whisky, amontillado sherry and bitters. Not only is whisky one of the country’s most famous exports, but so is Robert Burns, author of the poem in which the aforementioned Beastie features. The traditional made modern. Comfortably libated, my comrade and I progressed into the dining area, a beautiful space. The open and spacious kitchen stands at one end, in full view of diners. They can take in the action, while admiring the muted shades of light blue décor adorning the room, which are combined with granite and birch features, again nods to the country’s heritage. We both opted for the tasting menus, as ever omnivorous for me and vegetation for my comrade. Back to the venue’s philosophy and dishes such as razor clams from Barra, halibut from the North Sea and roe deer from the Borders spoke clearly of localism. Beyond this, there is a distinct emphasis on seasonality, with first-of-the-season asparagus featuring on both mine and my comrade’s menu (the former paired with oxtail). Such is the passion of Tom Kitchin and his team that every diner gets a map of Scotland where they can see exactly from exactly where each ingredient comes – a nice touch. We were generally very pleased with what we ate across the menu, with the clams and the venison being my favourites, while my comrade rated her sea kale (a definite novelty) and artichoke dishes. Service was also hard to fault, with most dishes introduced and explained in a passionate manner. If there were a failing, then it was perhaps the wines. Sure, the main list is impressive, but some of the pairings we got with our dishes spoke of pedestrianism, especially the choice of an entry-level young Musar (a cult Lebanese wine) with the clams. Still, at £150/head all-in for a seven-course food and wine tasting menu, the Kitchin has to rank as among the better value experiences of this nature in Britain. One to recommend.