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AA Wine Award (Scotland) 2016 - 2017
AA rating

About this rating

Restaurants are awarded from 1 to 5 Rosettes for culinary excellence. One Rosette restaurants are highly recommended in a local area and five Rosettes have reached the pinnacle of culinary excellence at a world class level.

Read more about AA ratings and awards

Ambitious modern Scottish cooking with French roots

AA Inspector

At a glance

Vegetarian menu
Private dining
Wines by the glass
Wheelchair access
Service charge
Credit cards accepted

The rejuvenated waterfront district of Leith has been one of the success stories of development in the Scottish capital in recent years. There is something to see all over the show, including a phalanx of high-quality restaurants, at the forefront of which is Tom Kitchin's destination venue, now embarked on its second decade. Sited in an old bonded whisky warehouse, it's an atmospheric space, with something of the subterranean feel of old wine cellars. A deep grey is the prevailing tone, and the separate zones of the dining room are divided by columns of brick and little stone walls that seem to suggest farming country. An illuminated glass shelf display of single malts reminds us of the erstwhile purpose of the building. Kitchin's cooking, deeply rooted in his French training with modern masters Pierre Koffmann, Guy Savoy and Alain Ducasse, but Scottish to its finger-ends in its commitment to thoroughbred Highland and Lowland produce, has grown in ambition over the past decade. The publication of his first book, From Nature to Plate (2009), helped bring the philosophy of the restaurant into focus, and put it in the vanguard of the natural foods movement. Television appearances have been a regular gig, but the principal emphasis remains here. The full panoply of menu options is put into practice, from the shorter lunch deal – perhaps red mullet escabeche with fennel, peppers and orange, and roe deer pithivier with quince purée, carrot and apple, finishing with apple crumble soufflé and vanilla ice cream – to a dinner carte, the seasonal taster and a six-stage menu surprise for the intrepid. The dishes are full of cleverly worked layers of flavour, coaxed from first-class materials brought together in productive and ingenious compositions, their visual complexity on the plate matched by the three-dimensional impact on the palate. A long-standing opener has been the boned and rolled pig's head, served for bracing contrast with a roasted Tobermory langoustine and a salad of crispy pig's ear, dressed in the pungent richness of creamy gribiche. Principal fish dishes might be simpler in conception, perhaps turbot roasted on the bone and served with squid and garlic confit and garlicky potatoes, a dish that could hardly be more purely French in orientation, but lack for nothing in resonance, while meats favour an all-singing, all-dancing approach, a preliminary dish bringing together Inverurie veal sweetbreads, crispy ox tongue and bone marrow marmalade with roasted parsley roots, while the main might be an array of Scottish beef cuts with marrowed potato and roast parsnip. At the end might come silky yogurt pannacotta, cut with razor-sharp Granny Smith sorbet in a consommé of sea-buckthorn, or perhaps a little something or two from the laden cheese trolley.

Opening hours

  • Closed: Christmas, New Year, 1st 2 weeks in January, 4–8 April, 25–29 July, 10–14 October
  • Days closed: Sunday to Monday
  • Lunch served from: 12.15
  • Lunch served until: 2.30
  • Dinner served from: 6.30
  • Dinner served until: 10

Chef

  • Chef: Tom Kitchin

Food and drink

  • Cuisine style: Scottish, French
  • Vegetarian menu
  • Wines over £30: 363
  • Wines by the glass: 36

Price guide

  • Service charge
  • Credit cards accepted

Accessibility

  • Wheelchair accessible
  • Accessible toilets
  • Assist dogs welcome

Facilities

  • Seats: 75
  • Private dining available
  • Private dining seats: 20
  • On-site parking available
  • Off-site parking available: On site parking evening only, all day Saturday

Additional information

  • Seats: 75
  • Private dining available
  • Private dining seats: 20

Getting here

In Leith, off Commercial Street, opposite Scottish Executive building

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Nearest train station

Waverley
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