For a restaurant delivering such seriously good food, The Kitchin nevertheless remains a place where you can relax. There are no white table cloths, no intimidating maitre d' (but bountiful Scottish hospitality) and no starchy dress code. What there was, however, was a room alive with chatter, the sound of people having a good time, people who are dressed in every style, suits to short sleeves and people who are comfortable. Yes it's Michelin, yes, it has been voted in the top three restaurants of Scotland, and yes, it has a famous chef, but The Kitchin remains a down to earth restaurant with only the food 'out of this world'.
We had chosen the game tasting menu well in advance for Chef Kitchin is well known for his talent in this area and when we cook game at home, his cookbook, from nature to plate is always kept close by for handy reference. Today, it would be a masterclass. A jellied pheasant consomme starts us off, as clear as the lochs of Scotland and almost as pretty, helped by the sun coming out for the first time in a week, allowing the dish to literally dazzle at the table. The tartare of venison with game terrine that follows is another luminescent plate with citrus orange more prevalent than the advertised red currant jelly, but it is expertly judged and the balance of the plate is exceptional, something that is a recurring theme of the meal.
Next up, a pithivier is a perfectly delicious parcel of game, though despite the nod to a smaller portion, this remains a mighty offering on a tasting menu. A classic follows: woodcock. As is traditional, the whole bird is utilised and the open head offers up a morsel of the sweeter tasting brain. An intestine pate on toast delivers intense flavour but again, nothing throughout the entire meal is 'too gamey' and we might reasonably guess that people who ordinarily shy away from game would have their eyes opened by this menu that shows just how accessible game can be when expertly done. Also here, the leek terrine is so stunning in its artistry that taking a knife and fork to it seems almost wrong.
Often underutilised, roasted teal proves to be the 'surprise' dish of the day, possibly due to the endive tatin on which the breast sits. The teal leg, falling off the bone, is served with a sticky sweet glaze and the sweet tatin, making a guest appearance alongside that, is an eye opening yet mouth watering revelation. We finish the hot savouries with hare a la Royale which is a rich dish challenge after all that we've eaten but despite its depth, there's balance and measure here and we both cross the game finish line before cleaning up with a sea buckthorn sorbet. Rhubarb cheesecake closes.
This is the first game tasting menu to appear on the blog and our high hopes and excitement ahead of visiting The Kitchin were amply rewarded in a stunning and unique meal that emphasises both the quality of Scottish produce and the brilliance of vision by Tom Kitchin. By the time you're reading this post, the game menu is likely to have finished, until it returns again much later in the year, but we have no doubt that whatever menu is featured, it will provide you with plenty to look forward to ahead of the visit and plenty of talk about after. We loved our time at The Kitchin, for it is truly a world class restaurant, and for a way to spend my birthday, well, there was no other restaurant in the country in which we would have rather been.