Perfection’s a rare thing. Not least in the restaurant world. But The Kitchin manages it, bringing together all the elements that make for a really memorable evening. There’s a nice bar area, a luxuriant dining room - with a view of the kitchen, serving staff who are at the top of their game, a menu that shrieks “local and seasonal” at you. And there’s even a personal welcome from Tom Kitchin, who came round the punters in the bar to say hello and wish us a good meal.
And in a scene setter of the style of the place, canapés weren’t canapés, but crudites served with a rich blue cheese dip.
If the crudites had set the scene for style, then the amuse bouche set the scene for the quality of the food we were about to experience. A small bowl of jellied chicken consommé, sliced chicken, quail’s egg, peas, broad beans, slivers of apple and a littler crispy bacon. So clever and so delicious.
One starter was, apparently a Kitchin classic – long cooked and shredded pig’s head meat, in a crisped cylinder. Alongside a fat juicy langoustine tail and a segment of Little Gem topped with a fine dice of vegetables. Now, I’m not usually a fan of surf and turf but serve me food like this and I may become a convert. The other starter was an intricate seafood plate. Seven separate preparations including a perfect oyster, carpaccio of octopus, monkfish liver, crab salad, marinated raw scallop, smoked salmon mousse wrapped in smoked salmon and, finally, chopped razor clams served in the shell.
We continued the seafood theme with the mains. Both of them were absolute stunners. Seared fillet of hake served on what might best be described as a stew of very early vegetables – peas, broad beans, carrots, along with mushroom and lardons. The other plate brought perfectly cooked fillets of John Dory, surrounded by clams, mussels and gnocchi, with a little drizzle of rich broth in the bottom of the bowl.
At this point, we were offered cheese and decided to share a plate. The trolley had a small collection of British cheeses – all looking in perfect condition. We picked four – Shropshire Blue, West Country brie, another blue from Lincolnshire and finally a Caerphilly which we were urged to eat with a drizzle of Scottish honey. Other accompaniments were spot-on – apple chutney, fruit bread, damson jelly, as well as the more common grapes and celery.
So, the kitchen had shown it could certainly cook seafood and they’re not behind the door when it comes to desserts. A coffee soufflé was suitably oozing and came with ice cream made from a stout from Alloa, which balanced the sweetness with a background bitter note. There can be cloying sweetness with lemon meringue tart, but not here. The citrus elements blast their way off the plate and down your throat, softened only by the meringue and a quenelle of frozen yoghurt.
Coffee was good. Petit fours were even better. This really is a special place. I just wish we lived nearer.