Restaurant review

RESTAURANT REVIEW: KORA, EDINBURGH – Scottish Champ

Bath Richard visits Tom Kitchin’s Kora restaurant in Edinburgh.

IN A WORD: Kora is Tom Kitchin’s newly remodeled 65-seat restaurant in Edinburgh’s increasingly fashionable south Bruntsfield. Its extremely talented former mucker Dominic Jack is the chef-director (aka executive chef) while James Chapman, who worked with the Michelin-starred Kitchin for eight years, is the head chef. This brings the number of establishments in the Kitchin empire to four: its eponymous Kitchin in Leith, Scran & Scallie in Stockbridge, the Bonnie Badger in Gullane, and now Kora. In case you were wondering, Kora means “Goddess of Flowers, Vegetation, and Spring” in Greek mythology, and is an allusion to Kitchin’s legendary devotion to seasonality.

ATMOSPHERES: The place was quite full the night we went and overall everyone seemed to be really enjoying themselves. The mood of the design is contemporary Scandi, highlighting a significant contribution from Kitchin’s wife, Michaela. Despite the hard surfaces, noise is never bothersome and the whole place is well set up for staff and diners. The fully stocked bar where we started and had some snacks (later) is a wonderful focal point that has a vague altar feel. Still, we were happy to worship in a sanctuary of cocktails and booze.

FOOD: We started at the bar with a few snacks – the highlights were a dry sausage full of flavor, silky smooth oysters and best of all Cajun spiced sweetcorn ribs, before moving on to our table.

The bumf said we could expect “modern Scottish cuisine with accents of global flavors” and to be fair, that’s a pretty accurate assessment. Once there we played around with some of the more interesting dishes (courgette flower tempura anyone?) and instead we filled the Scottish pantry with starters of crispy beef tongue ravioli with beef consommé and sweet corn (excellent, with deep percussive flavors) and the equally memorable locally stuffed porcini mushrooms with Parma ham and poached chicken egg.

Side dishes, the crispy Ayrshire pork belly with kohlrabi, black pudding and apple was outstanding, while the braised Highland wagyu top with beetroot, green peppercorn sauce and skinny fries disappeared at an absolutely indecent rate.

We finished with a superbly light plum fool with oatmeal granola, as well as a warm donut with chocolate sauce and whipped cream, which was the perfect way to end our meal.

BOOZE: Kora’s wine list was gloriously eclectic, with barely a French offering to be seen until you got to the sharp end of the price range. The exception to this was the fizz, but even then we started with a beautifully creamy, lemony glass of Crémant de Bourgogne (£9 per 125ml glass). When it came to wine, however, we were encouraged to be as free as we liked, so chose a Blanc de l’Observatoire blanc from Chateau Ksara in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley (£8.25 for £185 ml), while our two reds were a wonderfully robust glass of Plato Syrah Okuzgozu from Izmir in Turkey (£10.25 for 185ml) and an equally memorable Saperavi Tbilvino from Kakheti in Georgia (£8.00 for 185ml ). If I had the same food again, I would revisit all three wines and the cremant, which is called mission accomplished.

VERDICT: It looked like the kind of cozy but upscale local restaurant we all wish we had within walking distance. Friendly but understated service, dishes with signature Jack and Chapman nuances, and a wine list that gave the usual suspects a side.

VALUE FOR MONEY: The happy buzz around the place suggested our diners were enjoying themselves, although excellence also comes at a cost, so be sure to save some pennies for a few weeks before visiting. Bar snacks range from £3 to £9, starters from £8 to £22, main courses from £17 to £49 and puddings from £8 to £14.50.

VITAL STATS: 14-17 Bruntsfield Place, Edinburgh, EH10 4HN. Open Wed 5am-9am, then Thu-Sun 12pm-9pm (closed Monday and Tuesday). 0131 342 3333. www.korabytk.com

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