For us, it is a treat to have the variety of restaurants which are within the Scottish capital. Where Edinburgh is able to give London a run for its money in terms of the quality of cooking which is on offer. We certainly believe this, after returning to both 'The Kitchin' and 'Castle Terrace' within two consecutive weekends.
Both Tom Kitchin and Dominic Jack have created a market for fine dining to reflect their 'from nature to plate' philosophy. The motif is the same in both restaurants but the food is unique and independent of the chef.
At the start of the year Castle Terrace under went a one million pound refurbishment to the dining room and kitchen. This gave us the perfect excuse to return to what is, and has been our favourite restaurant. Yes, we may be biased, since this was the very first fine dining restaurant we tried, long before the blog was even thought of. This aside, the revamp at Castle Terrace is immediately striking, with luxurious tones of deep blue contrasting against the gold and grey tones in the new extended dining room which can now hold seventy covers. This interior design was completed by Michaela Kitchin.
Additional features include a sixteen seat private dining room, chef's table and a state of the art kitchen. However the centre piece of the dining room is the hand drawn mural of the castle, completed by the Glaswegian artist Nichol Wheatley. We feel that this fine art reflects the creativity which is found within the kitchen from the head chef.
This was our sixth visit to the restaurant, therefore any background information can be found here. Upon our visit we were served two different tasting menu's (costing £75 each), and were able to enjoy a course at the newly situated chef's table. So here is what we ate:
BALLOTINE OF NOSE TO TAIL PORK APRICOT + ROSEMARY: This dish may not be the most visually pleasing, but the depth of flavour found within the ballotine was sensational. The hint of sweetness from the apricot helped balance a rich, but highly enjoyable dish. It is always nice to see a dish which is simplistic yet effective.
Scallop, sea kale, lemon and lime marmalade: The cooking of the scallop was amongst some of the best we have been served. Serving the scallop with fresh sea kale, and a small serving of sharp lemon and lime marmalade, was new to us, but it certainly worked.
Shellfish ravioli, crab bisque: To our delight we were invited to enjoy this course at the new chef's table in the kitchen. The shellfish ravioli was stunning, with the pasta having been rolled perfectly and having a great texture. The crab bisque was packed full of crab flavour and had been seasoned very well.
Croquette of lamb, chick pea coriander: The croquette was surprisingly crisp, and filled with beautifully seasoned lamb. Chick pea and coriander was a combination of flavours we felt worked. Overall a very pleasant dish.
Red mullet, salt cod brandade: This was a dish filled with divergent textures and flavours. The red mullet was crisp and packed a strong fish flavour. The salt cod brandade was highly pleasant and worked well with the mullet.
Saddle of venison, celery celeriac, apple and walnuts: Choosing a favourite course from the evening would be difficult but this was certainly one of the finest. The saddle of venison was of a good size, and beautifully cooked throughout. The celeriac and apple were both fine additions to a fabulous dish. We must mention the beautifully crafted small pie served with the dish. Although small, the cooking of this was perfect.
Rhubarb: A beautifully presented dessert that really caught our eye. The rhubarb cheesecake was sweet and sharp, and had added texture from the caramelised peanuts. We were unsure of how beetroot would work within the dish, however we found the sublte beetroot flavour to be very enjoyable indeed.
Chocolate and orange pave, orange sorbet: Again this was another work of art created by the kitchen. The chocolate pave was light, and packed an intense chocolate hit. The orange sorbet was intense in flavour, a classic combination with chocolate which was executed perfectly.
Panna Cotta of Arbroath Smokie: Having previously had this as a starter course, we were delighted to see it had been made smaller and was now being served as an appetizer. Despite being smaller in size it still packed a major punch of flavour. We loved the mango yolk found within the small quail egg, but the best bit was the Arbroath smokie with its excellent texture and flavour.
Pate en Croute of Roe Deer: The presentation of this dish had much to marvel, where thankfully the food tasted every bit as good as it looked. The pastry around the Pate was light and crisp and added some texture to the dish.
Scallop With a Sweet Pepper Marmalade: A fairly simply looking dish, but certainly not a dish lacking in wow factor. Scallop is easily one of our favourite ingredients, and in this dish it had been cooked expertly. The scallop was accompanied by a wonderful sweet marmalade which had a gentle hint of pepper.
Squid: This dish was enjoyed in the kitchen at the chef's table. The squid was flavoursome, and had a highly pleasant texture. This was a light dish, that we thoroughly enjoyed with a beautiful glass of white wine.
Risotto of Organic Spelt: This was a dish we tried on our first ever visit to Castle Terrace, and it's obvious why it's still on the menu now. The flavours were rich and intense, and the dish tasted as good as ever. A must try when you visit Castle Terrace.
Seared Wing of Shetland Skate: This was a well executed dish, with the main ingredient Skate cooked wonderfully. The Asian style dressing had a great depth of flavour and really worked well with the Skate. This was a different style of cooking than we normally expect at Castle Terrace, but chef Jack really showcased his many talents with this dish.
Stuffed Saddle of Lamb: The cooking of the lamb was superb. The smoked aubergine had also been cooked with great skill, having a beautiful flavour and texture. We also loved the small basil gnocchi which were a great addition to the dish.
Caramel Souffle: After having two beautiful Soufflés at The Kitchin and The Square most recently, we were intrigued as to how Castle Terrace’s offering would compare. To our delight this soufflé was every bit as good and finished off our meal very well. The caramel soufflé had the perfect texture with just the right amount of sweetness. We loved the popcorn finished on top which gave the dish some added crunch.
Both menu's were faultless from start to finish. For us the courses were more varied and creative than previous visits, with divergent influences being highlighted. It was a delight to see a fully functioning kitchen and witness the precision to detail when the plates were served. Service was as good as ever, with many of the same faces still present from our first visit. We must again mention Shaun McCarron. He is a shining light within the Scottish dining scene. The service from Shaun and his team is amongst some of the finest we have came across in Scotland. Joel the sommelier was also very helpful, and recommended us a couple of stunning wines by the glass.
Chef Jack showed us around the premises and it was clear to see that he is incredibly passionate about one thing and that is the food he creates. With a market for celebrity chefs, it was obvious this is not of Jack's interest. Instead he keeps his eye on the ball and continues to produce some of best food we have tried within the Scottish Capital.