SCOTLAND'S capital is becoming a food destination to rival the likes of Paris, one of the city's leading chefs said yesterday.
• Tom Kitchin, left, with Dominic Jack and Michaela Kitchin, who designed the Castle Terrace restaurant's interior. Picture: Greg Macvean
Speaking at the launch of his new venture in the heart of Edinburgh, Tom Kitchin said gastro tourism was becoming an increasingly important factor in the city's economy.
"The more restaurants there are, the better it is for Edinburgh - and we know that people are now coming to Edinburgh to eat," he said. "If Edinburgh becomes a foodie destination, it benefits everyone: people spend in the hotels, go to the theatre, drink in all the little bars. Why can't Edinburgh become the new Paris?"
Kitchin opens his second restaurant - Castle Terrace - tomorrow with friend and protege Dominic Jack at the helm as head chef and business partner. And despite the economic crisis, the restaurateur believes there is plenty of appetite for another top restaurant in the heart of the city.
Kitchin is confident his new venture, on the site of the defunct restaurant Abstract, will find customers in the increasingly food conscious capital.
"The Edinburgh restaurant scene is booming. Roy Brett opened something brilliant in Ondine and you have got the Leith restaurants - the Plumed Horse and Martin Wishart, the Godfather of the restaurant scene; I have got the utmost respect for him," he said.
Kitchin said it was not an aim of the new business to gain a Michelin star, but that the food would be very much in the style of Michelin-rated chefs.
"When I opened Kitchin, I never aimed for a Michelin star. But I was trained to a very high level in Michelin-starred restaurants and Dominic Jack has got exactly the same pedigree as myself. The object is not to get Michelin stars; the object is to provide something of quality which aims to be busy and to be full."
Kitchin believes the city centre site of the new restaurant, at the foot of the castle rock, will be a major plus point.
"The location is fantastic. You are near to the business area, the theatres, the big hotels and we also hope it will be popular with people from south Edinburgh, who sometimes say to us it is too far to come to Leith once you have paid for taxis."
The restaurant design was created by Kitchin's wife Michaela, who is six months' pregnant with their second child.
The interior has been completely remodelled, using natural neutral tones and designer wallpaper - although the gold ceiling has been retained. "I just wanted a really stylish but comfortable place. I left the gold ceiling because it is really opulent," said Swedish-born Michaela.
"We are very down to earth people and when we started the Kitchin, the idea was to have a place where we would feel comfortable going ourselves."
Diners arriving at Castle Terrace will be invited to enjoy an aperitif at a table in a corner of the kitchen, to allow them to watch the cooking taking place. The restaurant will also have a slightly more formal private dining area for up to 12 guests, separated from the main area by a sliding wooden and glass screen.
Jack, who has previously worked at hotels in Gleneagles and Istanbul, said it was "a dream come true" to be opening a restaurant in his hometown.
He said Kitchin, who he has known since he was a teenager, had been both a friend and an inspiration.
"We've been building up to this day for a long time and it's great to see it all come together, from the interiors to the suppliers, menus, wine lists and our outstanding team of people. We really have all the right ingredients ready to launch."
SAMPLE DINNER MENU
Risotto of organic spelt from Doves Farm, served with sauted Scottish girolles and persillade (13)
Organically-farmed Scottish rabbit, served en pastilla, with heather honey glazed white radish and a light mustard jus (23)
Strawberries from Fife with a peppered mascarpone mousse, served with an olive oil ice-cream (6)x