We had watched Tom Kitchin on BBC’s Great British Menu and admired his ability to follow the brief and not merely repeat his normal repertoire. So it was with some anticipation that we made our way to a beautiful snowy yet sunny Leith. After our visit to Number One at The Balmoral the ambience was disappointing in comparison but then again not every restaurant can be located in a 5 star hotel. The Kitchin is a more modern colder affair located in a converted warehouse. However all was not lost, as course after course we were treated to some of the best food we had experienced this year with perfectly matched wine.
Again the highlight of this meal was the Monkfish, specifically Monkfish tail wrapped in pancetta with an amazing broccoli puree and pumpkin gnocchi.
The service was excellent and if we were ever in Edinburgh this would be one restaurant that we would happily visit regularly. If was also nice to see that even on a day so close to the Xmas holiday Tom was busy in the kitchen.
So can the top restaurants north of the border hold their own against the top London restaurants? Based on our experience at Number One Restaurant at The Balmoral Hotel, the answer is a resounding YES. Indeed they could teach some other Michelin establishments a thing or two about service and the importance of good bread. Bread is normally something we have found that a lot of the very best restaurants tend to dismiss. Not so at Number One, they have a “loaf trolley” and serve up world class bread baked on the premises by their Pastry Chef a former French Baker.
Hardens give Number One a FSA rating of 1 1 4, we would certainly agree with the top marks for food and service, but 4 for ambience, this is a bit mean. We really liked the dining room, the décor is warm and certainly in the evening very effective for a basement restaurant. There is a large bar area and two larger rooms with well spaced tables and curved booths that allowed everyone a good view of the room.
We went for the tasting menu with matching wines, which was all of a very high standard. The standout course being the Monkfish. The New Zealand wines were also very good indeed. I also really enjoyed the fois gras course with pineapple relish and pineapple bread. At the end of the meal the sommelier discreetly slipped us a small present in the shape of a full loaf of the wonderful walnut and raisin bread.
Joseph Pearce’s is a great find for Brunch, it is a quirky and relaxing venue just a short walk from Princes Street, far enough away to avoid the usual tourist traps. The menu has a strong Swedish influence that is just right for the Scottish weather.
Locals tell me that this is a lively bar in the evenings, especially in the Summer.
Scotland is well known for great ingredients. Venison, Scallops, Langoustine etc, but how do the chefs north of the border compare with say London? We have chosen two of Edinburghs top restaurants for comparison.
One an established classic, the other cutting edge. They are:-