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On the northern tip of Edinburgh lies the port area of Leith. The rules of golf were first recorded here and for that alone it deserves a mention, but today it’s a very eclectic, happening, bohemian corner of the city. Ten to fifteen years ago you might not have wanted to walk the streets at night, but now it’s a flourishing, cosmopolitan community and is home to Scotland’s top restaurant – The Kitchin.

‘Scotland’s top restaurant’ may be a contestable term, but hopefully the next few minutes reading will make The Kitchin rise to the top of your gastronomic bucket list.

Do we find The Kitchin in some ostentatious building with an A-list address? No – it sits humbly (but comfortably) in a former bonded warehouse close to the beautiful Shore district. Inside, the combination of grey hues, stone cladding and soft teal furnishings make for an extremely relaxed setting. In particular, the artisan craftmanship and cosy fur throws marry the various spaces together beautifully well.

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While comfortable surroundings are a pre-requisite, the most important constituent parts of a restaurant are its food and its people. This is where The Kitchin moves through the gears.  During each dinner service, 60 or so lucky diners are given the choice to go À La Carte, or to be guided through a Tasting Experience. Both have their advantages based upon occasion, but to place your evening wholly in the hands of the chef is particularly well received.  

The ideas, techniques and flair on offer here have no equal. The Kitchin is the culmination of a life’s work chasing culinary perfection, learning countless food cultures and understanding every journey taken by each individual piece of Scottish produce. The real wizardry though is imparting that knowledge and that enthusiasm to the entire team. Because you can’t be everywhere at once, right? Well that’s maybe not the case for Tom Kitchin – the restaurant’s Chef-Proprietor. On Saturday evening past, Tom personally made in the region of a dozen visits from the pass to the restaurant. The reason? Sometimes for a welcoming chat, sometimes to explain that the scallop set in front of you was yesterday afternoon going about it’s business just off the Orkney Islands. The love for Scottish produce is very real, and there’s no hiding it. Pre-dinner, each guest is presented with a small map of Scotland showing where each part of their dinner was sourced.

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It would be easy for a celebrated chef to hang his name above the door and lie by the pool in a Spanish villa – as I’m sure many do. But on Saturday past, it was obvious to all the restaurant’s patrons that this was a man in his element. There were smiles on faces, and you could tell that everyone in the building either felt happy to be dining there, or indeed working there. Our waiter for example, dressed in a very smart charcoal kilt, was of such a polished and personable nature that you almost looked forward to his next visit. The highest level of service was received from pre-dinner drinks to the return of our coats.

Describing the detail of each and every dish would be mirroring the sin of discussing the agronomy and architecture of a golf course – something not many are qualified to do. What’s important is how it makes you feel. Here, each plate of food makes you think, makes you wonder about where it came from, and leaves you constantly asking yourself why this particular ingredient has never tasted so good before!

Fine dining can sometimes be perceived as expensive. Perhaps it is, but that’s for good reason. What’s not in question is a more important term – value. Spending a night in the company of friends or loved ones, working your way through the menu of a supremely gifted Scottish chef, having that feeling where you don’t want the meal to end. It’s likely going to cost around half the price of your last green fee and prove every bit as memorable.

Golf and gastronomy is a perfect marriage. By combining both, you become even further immersed into a country’s culture, which gives you a greater understanding of where you are and what makes it great.

Check out our Gastro Golf in Scotland itinerary, and allow yourself to count down the days to the most amazing Scottish vacation. Two of your favourite loves combined in a journey across one of the greatest countries in the world.