This one he chose. And he chose so very, very well. Run by a chef who was christened to cook, Tom Kitchin, the restaurant is located in Leith, a dockland area about 10 minutes from Edinburgh centre. The Kitchin's slogan is 'From Nature to Plate' and I've seen the chef on TV enthusiastically divulging how he really gets to know the people who provide the restaurant with ingredients, sometimes even accompanying them foraging or on fishing trips. His love for cooking with seasonal ingredients is evident the moment you open the menu. There is a Celebration of the Season daily specials menu, alongside the seasonally-minded a la carte menu. The space manages to feel simultaneously decadent, friendly, buzzing, and relaxed. A huge window allows diners to watch the action in the kitchen and extends a bit of drama into the room.
The stand-out dish: North Sea red mullet coated with manioc flour and served with peas, lettuce, carrots, mousseron mushrooms and pea shoots.
It seems our meal was perfectly timed to experience the Best Fish Coating Ever. Chef Kitchin worked in Brazil for two weeks prior to our visit and brought the manioc flour back with him to use for the first time in the restaurant. In this particular dish he added a little cumin powder to the flour to compliment the flavours. This coating gave the fish a fine crunchy texture with a flavour kick. I now want all my fish to have the Scottish-Brazilian treatment!
The Ubiquitous Chip
Set in a mews in Glasgow's West End, the Chip turned 40 this year and is famous for championing seasonal, local produce well before it was en vogue. There's a feast for the eyes here before any food even arrives thanks to a fantastically quirky atmosphere which is flooded with natural light and chock full of plants, chandeliers and paintings. Upstairs the brassiere overlooks the ground floor restaurant. As it was our first visit we booked into the restaurant to try the more elaborate menu. We were there on a Monday night and it was bustling with happy diners and super friendly staff.
The stand-out dish: Rich dark chocolate delice with beetroot and chilli sorbet.
This is a case of a chef combining flavours so spectacularly it makes you proclaim your pleasure a bit too loudly in a public place. The depth of dark chocolate here is spiked with a sorbet that at first provides a cool earthy flavour, and then a warm spicy wave of chilli tingles down your throat. A delicious thrill of a dessert.
The stand-out dish: Vegetable Kofta Curry (centre-right on plate)
Everything was sensational, our choices included Chana Dall, Garlic Mushroom Pakora, and Allo Saag Dosa (the pancake so perfectly paper thin with a bold spicy spinach filling, divine). But the Vegetable Kofta Curry was a revelation, offering a bewitching combinations of flavours, the perfect amount of heat, and the joy of eating balanced bittersweetly with the fear of it being finished and not found again.
Take a BreakEveryone needs a cuppa and a treat after treading round a city for hours. Luckily there are some lovely places to relax, revive, and re-enter these architecturally rich cities with freshly sugared zeal.
In Leith the kitschy cute Mimi's Bakehouse has a cake counter that even adults can't resist pressing their faces up against. Classics like Victoria Sponge cake sit alongside towers of Mars Bar Krispie Slice, Coconut Moments, and Caramel Shortbread. Or if you're in the university area of Edinburgh be sure to stop by Peter's Yard, a coffee shop offering fresh baked Swedish classics such as cardamom buns, crisp breads, and open-faced dark rye bread sandwiches.