Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Kitchin , Leith ,Edinburgh

Amuse-Bouche 1. Cheese Straws and Balls

Amuse-Bouche 2. Summer Courgette Soup

Saying hello to the Newhaven Live Lobster

Tartare of wild Salmon from Usan, served with diced apple and a lemon creme fraiche

Whole grilled lobster from Newhaven cooked Thermidor style, served with buttered samphire, sea spinach and sauteed squid

Rich Valrohna Manjari tart with Perthshire Rasberries and mint cream

Wine Consumed : HERMITAGE 'CHANTE-ALOUETTE' 2006 M.Chapoutier.

I have now eaten at The Kitchin four times , once in late 2007 , twice in 2008 and most recently on Thursday 19th of August 2010 , with my family (the pictures on this post are of what I ate on this day).

Every time with out exception I experienced world class cooking based on superbly sourced produce (most from Scotland's ample larder) coupled with first class service. All this in a relaxed , simple tastefully decorated restaurant.

Tom Kitchin is a great talent but he has also garnered a an impressive culinary education not only his many years with Pierre Koffman at Tante Claire , Royal Hospital Road ( he also returned to Tante Claire when it moved to the Berkeley ) but also Guy Savoy in Paris and Alain Ducasse's Louis XV in Monte Carlo.

I must have eaten Tom's cooking many times at Tante Claire and maybe even at Guy Savoy whilst he was there but at The Kitchin he is the man, and what a man , for me there is no better restaurant in the UK . I have not been as impressed with food in a restaurant in the British Isles since some of my early meals at Chez Nico , Tante Claire and the late Gunn Eriksen's, Altnaharrie Inn .

On this occasion it was a real pleasure to meet Tom for the first time and find a humble, charming individual who along with his brigade, produces perfectly executed and seasoned dishes.

My Tartare of wild Salmon from Usan, served with diced apple and a lemon creme fraiche was perfectly balanced and refreshing.

The whole grilled lobster from Newhaven cooked Thermidor style, served with buttered samphire, sea spinach and sauteed squid was really inspired with each ingredient perfectly seasoned and well - proportioned to create a superlative synthesis .

I finished a wonderful Rich Valrohna Manjari tart with Perthshire Rasberries which showed again that the brigade is strong in executing every course be it savoury or sweet.

The HERMITAGE 'CHANTE-ALOUETTE' 2006 from Chapoutier was sublime and served at the correct tempreture also worked well with my wife's Scallop starter and Turbot main.

The Kitchin’s sister restaurant Castle Terrace openeded on 14th July on Castle Terrace in central Edinburgh, with Chef and co patron Dominic Jack behind the stove. Edinburgh-born Dominic Jack who worked as a trainee with Tom at Gleneagles has followed a similar career path that has included L’Arpège and Taillevent in Paris. It seems that Tom Kitchin is expanding in a controlled and intelligent way , whilst spending most of his time in the Kitchen !

I'm already planning a long week end in Edinburgh.

The Kitchin on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

28-50 , London

28-50 Wine Workshop & Kitchen is the newest venture from Xavier Rousset and Agnar Sverrisson, the restaurateurs behind the award-winning Michelin-starred restaurant Texture. It opened last month a stones throw from El Vino, it aims to deliver an exceptional variety of wines at fair prices alongside simple French inspired food.

Sverrisson and Rousset met while working as head chef and head sommelier respectively at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons . They have also hired the charming and very professional Ed Newman who I remembered from High Road House and Shoreditch House.

Named after the latitudes in which most wine regions are located, 28-50 Wine Workshop & Kitchen has on the surface some similarities to Terroirs however one you study the wine lists and menu the differences are immediately apparent.

Rousset is an award winning master sommelier and this shows in both the collectors list” including wines such as 1978 Château Léoville Las Cases , 1984 Ridge Montebello or 1995 Ornellaia alongside an extensive list of 30 wines at very reasonable prices – all of which are available by the bottle, carafe or glass. The list will be continually evolving with the aim of allowing guests to experiment in their wine choices, and a winemaker is featured every month.

The Head Chef Paul Walsh was last at Gordon Ramsey Hospital Road and this shows through in terms of presentation and sophistication.The food at Terroirs is on the whole more rustic and the portions more generous.

My only gripe about 28-50 is in fact the size of the portions , on the first of my three visits I wondered for a brief moment if I was in Lilliput being served food one-twelfth the size of an acceptable portion. Unfortunately this is more and more common in London where crude empiricists develop price points for dishes and then build the food and margin into them, either by size or (often inferior) quality of ingredients. At 28-50 the 10 dishes I ate in three visits were all either good or very good and very well executed.

On my most recent visit my companion and I started with plate of Charcuterie to share can only really satisfy two fictional inhabitants of Lilliput and Blefuscu. At £11.50 this was not good value despite being served with excellent toasted brown bread.

I followed this with a starter Confit salmon with cucumber, basil and
tomato vinaigrette that was perfectly sized for a starter and very good value at £6.50 .

My main course of Icelandic salt cod with chorizo and couscous at £14.95 was again a very good dish but with not really enough on the plate.

I finished with probably he smallest sized desert I have ever been served, a truly delightful Almond cake with peach sorbet and fresh raspberries (1 to be exact) at £6.00. The Almond cake must have been baked in a thimble to achieve those absurd proportions.

We drank a glass of 2009 St Nicolas de Bourgueil, Mabileau served at the optimum tempreture and, a rather good 2001 Rioja Reserva, Vina Arana, La Rioja Alta.

Despite my comments about portion control 28-50 is a welcome addition to the wine bar/bistro scene in London with great value wines at all levels , quality food and excellent service.

28-50 Wine Workshop & Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Monday, August 02, 2010

Royal Oak

I recently made my third visit to the Royal Oak and enjoyed another marvelous and relaxed, 3 hour meal that served to confirm why this is one of my favourite places to eat in the UK.

This pub was transformed in early 2007 with the arrival of Dominic Chapman (brilliantly profiled here by Douglas Blyde ) a man whose wonderful cooking I first tasted in the late 90's at the Fat Duck (a very different menu in those days) and Fat Duck Bistro in the Bray Marina (a joint venture between Heston and footballer Lee Dixon) and more recently at the Hinds Head where Dominic was Head Chef. Chances are that I ate some of Dominic's cooking whilst he was working as chef de partie at Kensington Place for Rowley Leigh.

Dominic was away on holiday in Greece so it was also to be my first meal at the Royal Oak whilst he was away.

Since Chapman’s arrival at The Royal Oak, it has been crowned AA Restaurant of the Year, England, 2008-09, and Chapman was named by The Good Food Guide as Best Pub Chef 2009 and as Best Young Chef 2009 in the Tatler Restaurant Awards. Earlier this year it received a much deserved Michelin Star. Credit to Michael and Nick Parkinson for bringing in such a fine Chef.

My recent meal was typical fresh seasonal food made with superb ingredients . Sourcing is one of the real strengths of this restaurant be it meat , fish , fruit and vegetables or cheese.

The (irresistible) Scotch Eggs served as a perfect transition from a G&T to the starter of stuffed courgette flower . This was stuffed with Ricotta and served with fresh peas , beetroot , artichoke hearts and lightly dressed in olive oil. I would rank this as the best consumed in the UK, alongside a classic fried version with Mozzarella and anchovies that I had many moons ago at The Walnut Tree Inn in South Wales. My companion was delighted by his Chicken Liver and Foie Gras Parfait, Fig Chutney and Toasted Brioche .

We drank the potent White ,Châteauneuf-du-Pape from Doamine Chant Perdix, 2007 with our starter and main. The Grenache, Roussane, Clairette and Bourboulenc blend worked very well with both courses.

For the mains I had Line Caught Sea Bass with Sweet Young Peas, Radish, Lettuce and Bacon (see picture) whilst my companion had Roast Cornish Turbot with Samphire, Cockles and Mussels . The fish was in both cases beautifully cooked (often the best test of a kitchen when the Head Chef is away) The triple cooked chips here are in my view the best in the UK and only a close second to those at La Tupina in Bordeaux fried in Goose fat.

We drank a rather good Paulliac Cru Bouregois, 2000, Château Haut-Bages Monpelou with our cheese Alderwood, Berkswell, Ogleshield, Gorwydd Caerphilly, Waterloo, Harbourne Blue) and had time round off the meal with a couple of Delamin Pale and Dry XO's before rushing off to catch the 4.08pm train from Twyford to London.

I live in hope that the Royal Oak copies the Pot Kiln and opens a London outpost. Of course I also know the perfect location and it's less than 300 metres from my home !

Royal Oak on Urbanspoon