RESTAURANT REVIEW: KORA, EDINBURGH

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

IN A NUTSHELL: Kora is Tom Kitchin’s new 65-cover remodelled restaurant in the increasingly fashionable south Edinburgh district of Bruntsfield. His hugely talented old mucker Dominic Jack is the chef-director (aka executive chef) while James Chapman, who has 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: his 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 dedication to seasonality.

ATMOSPHERICS: The place was pretty full on the night we went there, and by and large everyone seemed to be really enjoying themselves. The design vibe is Scandi contemporary, which points to a significant input of Kitchin’s wife, Michaela. Despite the hard surfaces, the noise is never intrusive and the whole place is well laid-out for both staff and diners. The well-stocked bar where we started off and had some snacks (more of that later) is a wonderful focal point which has a vaguely altar-esque feeling. Still, we were happy to worship at a shrine to cocktails and booze.

FOOD: We started off at the bar with some snacks – the highlights were a flavour-packed saucisson sec, some silky smooth oysters and, best of all, some novel but highly moreish Cajun spiced sweetcorn ribs – before going through to our table.

The bumf said we could expect “modern Scottish cooking with accents of global flavours” and to be fair that’s a pretty accurate assessment. Once there we toyed with some of the more interesting dishes (courgette flower tempura anyone?) and instead went full Scotland’s larder with starters of crispy ox tongue ravioli with beef consommé and sweetcorn (excellent, with deep percussive flavours) and the equally memorable locally foraged cep mushrooms with Parma ham and a poached hen’s egg.

When it came to the main courses, the crispy Ayrshire pork belly with kohlrabi, black pudding and apple was outstanding, while the braised Highland wagyu topside with beetroot, a green peppercorn sauce and skinny fries disappeared at an absolutely indecent rate.

We rounded off with a superbly light plum fool with oatmeal granola, plus a warm doughnut with chocolate sauce and Chantilly cream, which was the perfect way to end our meal.

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

VERDICT: This felt like the sort of comfortable but upmarket local restaurant we’d all like to have within walking distance. Friendly yet unobtrusive service, characteristically nuanced dishes from Jack and Chapman, plus a wine menu that gave the usual suspects a sideswerve.

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

VITAL STATISTICS: 14-17 Bruntsfield Place, Edinburgh, EH10 4HN. Open Wed 5-9, then Thurs-Sun 12-9pm (closed Mon and Tues). 0131 342 3333. www.korabytk.com

Catch up with more news and reviews on Scottish Field’s food and drink pages, in association with Cask & Still magazine.

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