The Kitchin - Tasting Menu Review

After a highly enjoyable Christmas lunch at The Kitchin, we decided it was time to make a visit for dinner and finally try the tasting menu. Unknown to us when we booked, we were going to be eating in a very different restaurant than that of our three previous visits.
Beautiful Wall Paper
Tom and Michaela Kitchin took the bold decision to buy the premises adjacent to the restaurant and knock through the wall, to create a new dining room. Not only was the establishment doubling in size, it was getting a full makeover in the process. We both loved the old layout but were excited and perhaps slightly sceptical about seeing the new restauraunt. Changing a winning formula is never an easy decision, and we hoped the restaurant wouldn't lose its warm, welcoming feel that made it so enjoyable in the past.
New Entrance
After pre-drinks in our hotel, we made the short walk to The Kitchin for our 9pm slot on a Saturday night. On arrival any fears or doubts we had about the new restaurant were instantly dispersed. The new bar area, now on the left when you enter, is simply stunning. Michaela Kitchin has done a fantastic job designing this space and has created a wonderful area to enjoy a pre or post drink. We loved the wall paper and the colours used in the decor, a true homecoming to scottish designers. The new booth area looked welcoming, with its luxuriously finished seating arrangement.
View into the bar
The new booths
Rhubarb cocktail
Rye Flat Breads
Following a fantastic rhubarb and vodka cocktail, along with the moreish rye flat breads, we were then taken through to the new restaurant. Again we were highly impressed with the outcome. The size difference is apparent straight away and the new d├ęcor again is stunning. Despite doubling in size and having a complete revamp, the dining room retains the features that make The Kitchin a roaring success. The window into the kitchen, the cosy laid-back surroundings and the warm welcome are all still evident. Michaela and Tom Kitchin have successfully taken a superb dining room and elevated it to greater heights.
New entrance into the Dining Room
Our Table
New layout
New Dining Room
Now on to the food, we both opted for the tasting menu, ordering one classic tasting menu and one seasonal to sample a greater range of dishes. Here is what we had from the classic tasting menu:
Bread and Butter

The ever impressive sourdough, served warm with a crusty exterior and a warm and fluffy inside, truly delicious.
Watercress
A perfect example of how a veloute´ should be executed. The consistency of the dish was perfect and packed a strong watercress flavour. We both loved the additional bacon which rounded off the dish superbly, the exciting colours mimicked the atmosphere inside the dining room. 

Shellfish Rockpool
Not wanting to ease the diner in gently, the first dish was a complete knockout. A range of beautifully cooked shellfish, in a matching shellfish bouillon was a dish executed perfectly. The cooking of each ingredient was fantastic, creating a very special culinary experience with divergent textures, rounded off with the salty broth.
Hand - dived Orkney Scallops baked in the shell
Scallops are a firm favourite of ours and again The Kitchin did not let us down. Perfectly cooked scallops were a great match with the white wine and herb sauce. We loved how the scallops were served in the shell which was opened in front of you, confirming the "from nature to plate" philosophy.
Pig's Head and Langoustine
A dish which we had both been wanting to try for a long time, after hearing many good reports. The pig's head was seasoned well and tasted better than we anticipated. Again the langoustine tail was superb as was the refreshing pig's ear salad, another stand out dish. This combination of flavours shouldn't go well together, but they seriously do, an overall great dish.
Woodcock
A nice touch by the restaurant was to serve us both the woodcock special for our mains. "From Nature to Plate" again is highlighted, with the bird being brought to the restaurant the day before we visited. We had never tried woodcock before and were excited to be told we would be eating the whole bird. We were to start with the brain and work in a clockwise manner. Not sure of what to expect we actually really liked the brain, the closest comparison in taste we can think of is chicken liver. The breast was next, an extraordinary tender and succulent piece of meat. Finishing on the leg which was also very well cooked, The Kitchen showed its range of skills, with fantastic cooking of the vegetables aswell.
Rhubarb Sorbet
A beautiful Rhubarb Sorbet was presented as a pre-dessert. The sharp clean rhubarb taste was refreshing on the pallet and acted as a great warm up to the actual dessert course.
Sea Buckthorn and Yoghurt
We both agreed this was a stunning plate of food, which tasted just as good as it looked. A beautiful light yoghurt panna cotta was a perfect match for the sweet apple sorbet. The sea buckthorn consomme´ wasn't too strong, with the flavour making a great addition to the dish.

Now let's have a look at the Chef's Seasonal Tasting Menu:
Razor Clams
The sweet and juicy razor clams accompanied the chorizo perfectly, adding a salty depth of flavour. The presentation on a customised plate ensured attention to detail, we also liked the way it was actually served in the shell. Fantastic! 

Veal
A wonderfully rich dish with some fantastic cooking on show. The pearl barley risotto was cooked well and had just the right amount of bite to it. The sweetbreads were the star of the dish, cooked and seasoned to perfection. 
Hake
The cooking of the hake was first class, soft flaky fish with a crispy skin was a delight to eat. Despite not being a huge fan of kale, Mr SEO actually enjoyed the ragout of sea kale which accompanied the hake. The tang in the sauce brought out the pungent flavours of the fish superbly.
Close up
Blackcurrant Sorbet
Another great pre-dessert, the strong fruity blackcurrant flavours were a joy to the taste buds. Desserts at The Kitchin were maybe a slightly weaker point when we first visited four years ago, but they have improved vastly and have been highly impressive on our last couple of visits.
White Chocolate and Rhubarb
Both Desserts were outstanding, but if we had to choose a favourite this would be it. Sweet white chocolate with fresh sharp rhubarb and the added texture from the small meringues made this a dessert made in heaven, absolutely stunning.
Green Tea
Petit Fours
Our way of judging a tasting menu is always based on three simple questions: Is it near impossible to pick a favourite course? Would you remember every course years later? Did you get that sinking feeling when finishing the dessert course and the tasting menu was over? The Kitchin passed our test with   flying colours and served us quite possibly the best tasting menu we have tried in Scotland. A bold statement indeed, but the level of cooking at The Kitchin is extremely high and we were blown away by the creativeness in both tasting menus.
End of service
We noticed a few suttle changes, throughout our meal which elevated the experience. The plates have been changed and now are from a small local business called "we make pots" in the South West of Scotland, we both liked this attention to detail. Mrs SEO also loved the small stools made with sheepskin from the Isle of Skye for guests to sit their handbags on. Although just small details, they further add to the experience.
Stools for Handbags
Service was excellent as always, with Sylvain Ranc and his team on top form. We must give a mention to Holly who we had the pleasure of chatting with at the end of our meal. She is clearly very passionate about her job and didn't rush us, even though we were the last guests of the night.

The renovation of The Kitchin was clearly a major gamble that could have backfired dramatically, but worry not the hard work of Tom and Michaela Kitchin has paid off and spectacularly at that. For us the restaurant may now be the standout establishment in the whole of Scotland, and also still the best one star restaurant we have tried in the UK. Michelin on the whole is a great guide, but to only award The Kitchin one star is a glaring error in our view. 

Our evening at The Kitchin can only be described as spectacular. After four visits we have never had a bad experience and each visit seems better than the last. If you want to experience the ultimate dining experience in Scotland, book up at The Kitchin and be prepared to be wowed by a truly fantastic culinary adventure. 


Scores:


Food 9/10
Service 9/10
Decor 10/10
Toilets 9/10
Value for Money 9/10

Overall 46/50 - A fantastic dining experience that delivers on every level.
Square Meal

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