A trip to Edinburgh

Tuesday, September 21st , 2010

edinburgh 3648 view-crop-v4.JPG

This weekend I tried the three highest rated restaurants in Edinburgh, Martin Wishart, The Kitchin and Number One – all have a single Michelin star.

Tom Kitchin’s restaurant is the most casual of the three, a modern dining room in the redeveloped docks area of Leith. We had a lovely meal, with the highlights for me eating ptarmigan (a relative of grouse) and trying a superb beef Wellington. This was a dish that Tom cooked to general praise on TV series The Great British Menu, and I can see why, as this was a very fine example of this lovely dish, with excellent beef and high quality pastry. I was also particularly impressed with a razor clam dish which both was precisely cooked and had lovely good flavour. The produce used was excellent, such as some fine scallops, and the meal was most enjoyable.

I had a similarly excellent experience at the slightly more formal Martin Wishart, also in Leith. I particularly enjoyed some lovely grouse, another excellent scallop dish and a particularly delicious vegetarian dish, Emmenthal cheese soufflé. The cooking at Martin Wishart is slightly the more ambitious of the two, but I enjoyed both pretty much equally. Service was excellent at both restaurants, with the staff clearly interested in the food being served and wanting their customers to really enjoy the food. It was a rather less satisfactory experience at Number One, which is the basement of the well -placed Balmoral Hotel (the picture here is of the castle, taken from our hotel window). The hotel itself was pleasant, though they did manage to charge £7 for a cup of tea in the room, which is surely aiming for some kind of record.

Produce at Number One also seemed to be of high quality e.g. some excellent French duck, but some of the dishes seemed to me to be rather out of balance, while there were one or two execution issues as well. It was still a good meal, but clearly a step down from both Tom Kitchin and Martin Wishart. Both these restaurants showcased the lovely seafood and game that Scotland has to offer.

Remember to tune in to Masterchef: The Professionals next week, on BBC2 on Thursday 30th September at 8.00 p.m. to see the first of the quarter finals in which I appear as a guest critic.

There will be a short pause now in the blog; the normal weekly service will resume in early October.