IT TAKES a lot of effort to be a Michelin-starred chef – which is why you will usually find Tom Kitchin working away his restaurant in Leith while his friend and business partner, Dominic Jack, is almost always fully occupied in the kitchens at Castle Terrace.
But recently the two bright stars of the Edinburgh restaurant scene have been spending a lot of time in the National Library of Scotland, researching the kind of food people in the capital enjoyed 100 years ago.
Kitchin and Jack have been collecting traditional recipes for their new venture – the Scran and Scallie pub in Stockbridge – where they plan to sell handmade Scottish ales alongside hearty meals inspired by rediscovered dishes from the past.
Jack, who trained alongside Kitchin in Gleneagles and who earned his own Michelin star in 2011 a year after opening, said: “We always wanted to have our own restaurants but also to have somewhere people can find nice, tasty food in a place where you can go with your family.”
The Scran and Scallie, in a former Italian restaurant in Comely Bank Road, opens on Easter Sunday – but the chefs are still perfecting their pub menu.
In their kitchens they have been experimenting with oysters, tripe, home-made pork scratchings, snails, ox tongue and classics like sheep’s heid Scotch broth.
Kitchin said the chefs had been inspired by some forgotten classics of Scottish home cooking. “We have spent hours in the National Library of Scotland – the people there have been fantastic. What people ate 100 years ago is not a million miles away from what we are going to do.
“A lot of the menus were written in French, because rich people could afford French chefs and there are often illustrations. In one they show you how to hang venison until it drops from the bone and the children are standing next to it holding their noses.”
David Umpherston, a chef from the Borders who has worked at both Castle Terrace and The Kitchin, will be overseeing operations at the new venture.
Kitchin says: “His real passion is for hearty, home-cooked stuff like steak and kidney pies and cloutie dumpling.”
The two chefs both have young children and the plan is to make the pub a place for families to eat together.
The idea is to have a children’s menu very similar to the adult menu but in smaller, plainer portions.
Kitchin’s Swedish wife Michaela, who is pregnant with twins, has been overseeing the decor of the new premises – as she did with the Kitchin and Castle Terrace.
Tom Kitchin says the look is simple and rustic, with tartan trim and illustrations taken from old recipe books. “When we stripped back the walls there was all this incredible old stone. We even found the old doorbell for calling the servants, so we are keeping that.”
Although they have put a lot of thought into the food, the chefs are keen to stress they will be also be putting a lot of emphasis on a range of traditionally brewed ales. Kitchin says: “Most exciting for us will be the beers. We are planning to have artisan ales, all made in Scotland. We won’t have Stella, Tennents or Guinness, but we will have the equivalents from breweries all over the country.
“We are both really looking forward to that.”