This past Christmas 2018 has become the gift that keeps on giving as the memories of being in Edinburgh, Scotland then have haunted me with joy. I feel blessed and now have a more serious jones for single malt scotch than I had before.
I live in Pompano Beach, Florida and, simply put, just did not want to go to Scotland for Christmas. However, everyone else in my family wanted to go, and they won. I am now embarrassed that I complained so much about not wanting to go – so I am hoping this story will allow my family to forgive me. They were all right! I am eternally grateful for the Edinburgh experience (and the Scotch). I live in paradise in Pompano Beach, Florida, primarily in the fall and winter, so I just prefer the warm tropical weather in Florida as it is divine.
I had a crazy flight on December 21st from Ft. Lauderdale to Atlanta, Georgia, then to London and I changed airlines for another flight to Edinburgh. Giselle Miller became the unfortunate victim of an airline mishap on December 21st and could not fly out that night and missed one of the greatest dining experiences ever.
I hope the below story whets your appetite and inspires you to explore extraordinary restaurants in the world.
The Kitchin, Tom Kitchin’s flagship restaurant in Edinburgh, which was founded about fifteen years ago in 2004 and has since been awarded a Michelin star, made what was one of the most extraordinary dining experiences, of my extensive repertoire of global dining experiences, possible. My son-in-law, Jonothan Scollen, is supposedly known for choosing the best restaurants in the world. So, he lived up to his reputation in choosing The Kitchin. So, after three flights and a very long journey, I arrived at a dinner table with my daughter, Liseanne, who was celebrating her 28th birthday with her husband and Margo’s boyfriend, Justin Ramirez.
We had the choice between two menus, the first, a surprise five-course menu or three courses à la carte. My daughter chose the Vegetarian Surprise menu, and the rest of us chose the Surprise Chef’s menu. What an amazing surprise The Kitchin was! I can’t recommend this restaurant enough. In fact, the food was so good, I would come back to Edinburgh just to have dinner there. However, I hear the competition for good food in Edinburgh is fierce and that there are several other great restaurants there.
Our menu began with an assortment of vegetables (crudités) and crisps. One was made with squid ink, and another was a honey roasted wafer served with a creamy gourmet spread. Since I was battling a cold, I ordered a ginger, carrot, and apple juice; Liseanne ordered their cocktail of the week ‘Thyme of the year’ with Pink Prosecco; Justin ordered a kombucha, and Jonothan had a cucumber-infused Gin & Tonic.
I preface this article, as you will see from the above map, that all of the ingredients served are sourced in various places in Scotland and northern England. Consequently, all the ingredients are of the highest quality, organic and Scottish in origin.
Second, we had an amuse-bouche (happy mouth) which was served in a whole onion from Kirkcaldy (south of the Grampian mountains) that had been baked. Inside was a creamed leek & potato type soup topped with delicious croutons. It reminded me of a vichyssoise soup topped with a bacon crumb for the meat eaters.
Third, the course was an amazing pastry-enclosed baked scallop served in the shell. I assure you this was the biggest scallop shell I’d ever seen! Amazing! In fact about five inches in diameter. It was a hand-dived scallop picked that morning from the Orkney Islands in the north east of Scotland off the mainland. The creamy sauce was herb-infused, and we dipped the pastry from outside the shell into the sauce. It was to die for.
Liseanne had a lentil paté that sat below a garden of fresh and brightly colored vegetables from Northumberland. Toasted hazelnuts were peppered throughout. It was crisp, fresh, and delicious with a lovely acidic and well-balanced dressing.
The fourth course was a celebration of the pig. There was a cube that consisted of all the meat that comes from a pig’s head. The dish was topped with a crisp of shredded pigs ears which were fried to perfection. A delicate caesar salad accompanied the pig as well as a steamed langoustine from the southwest edge of the Highlands near Tobermory. The salad was covered in a dusting of bacon powder. The pig’s ear was akin to chicharron or pork crackling and was so rich in flavor that Jonny had to finish Justin’s pig ear crisp.
The vegetarian dish consisted of braised fennel in a rich fennel puree with a fresh salad garnish topped with a beurre blanc sauce. It was so scrumptious that Liseanne barely said a word as she ate it.
The fifth course was a fresh-as-you-can-get halibut sourced from the Atlantic Ocean, directly North of Cape Wrath, and was absolutely succulent. The fish was covered in a light chicken stock atop a bed of celeriac puree and garnished with a turnip crisp. It’s hard to describe the consistency of the flavors and textures of each one of these courses, but it was such an exquisite combination; tantalizing my every taste bud.
Liseanne’s dish was a wild mushroom ragu. The mushrooms were foraged in the Grampian Mountains just north of Sterling, not too far from Perth. It was so unctuous that all the boys and I had to try some. The aroma coming off of it was mouth watering. Each mushroom was thick and meaty, and the sauce was also thick and moreish. The boys and I were envious of this dish, but at least she was kind enough to share.
Sixth came the roe deer from the Scottish lowlands bordering Northumberland. This dish was complemented with a roasted blackberry, a roasted carrot, a roasted beet wedge, a pumpkin pureé, and potato tart finished off with a roe deer red wine reduction.
While we were enjoying the deer, Liseanne was enjoying a creamy pumpkin risotto topped with a pumpkin purée and a beautifully fried bright orange egg. Following this course was a pre-dessert that served as a palate cleanser.
Seventh, we all enjoyed a delightful and refreshing red wine granita with a confit orange and a compressed apple sphere. Underneath all of this were some delicious brambles.
Eighth, the granita was followed by an apple soufflé which none of us had ever experienced before. It was prepared to perfection. The soufflé was light, eggy, and tasted like an apple crumble. The soufflé was served à la mode.
Ninth, during this course, the waiter also brought Liseanne a happy birthday dessert, and we sang to her. It was a rich chocolate mousse atop a dense chocolate biscuit. Bitter, rich, and chocolatey, it was a special treat. We were also offered the option of a cheese assortment, but we were all so full that we couldn’t fit in anything else.
Tenth, after we finished eating, we all had a pot of peppermint tea that was served with a beautiful millionaire’s shortbread. Most of us managed to fit this last little morsel, but it was an ample belly-filling meal.
We all left happy, sated, and with full hearts for our first meal of the Christmas holiday. It was a doozy and a memory I will cherish…
Thumbs up to Tom Kitchin! So, the next time you find yourself in Edinburgh, make sure you make a reservation for The Kitchin and make it in advance as this place is always busy. Bon appétit! I have included the business card below for when you are in Scotland next.