The Kitchin, Edinburgh, 9/21/17


The Kitchin is divided into several dining rooms with one having a large window into the very active kitchen.  Tables are good-sized and nicely spaced, which makes the noise level very tolerable despite being totally full of happily talking people.  The decor is very natural with lots of wood and stone and the menu strives to use only quality local products – they have a map showing where the various ingredients are from and many arrive within 16 hours of being harvested.  I’m wondering if some local sheep farm provided the fuzzy covers for the fun purse stools.  They have been open for 11 years, opening in 2006, and received their first Michelin star after just one year.  Service is attentive and friendly and willing to go into as much detail about the food as you want.   Continue reading

Ondine Restaurant, Edinburgh, 9/21/17

front door

Ondine is on the second floor of building that has a hotel and some fast food restaurants. It is fairly large with a very modern decor and windows on two sides overlooking the street activity below.  Tables are on the small side but not too closely spaced and soft music plays in the background.  The walls are decorated with seafood art, which also adorns the menus, and photos of the various staff members.  Service is attentive and friendly.  Our waiter was helpful in directing our choices and spot on with his advice.  At lunch they offer a 2 or 3 course fixed price menu (which they also offer for an early dinner) with a couple choices for each course.  We chose to order off the regular menu.   Continue reading

Timberyard, Edinburgh, 9/20/17


Timberyard has a rustic feel with well spaced, good-sized wood planked tables, brick walls and candles everywhere.  Small lights hang from the ceiling but it a fairly low light level which makes the photos a bit grainy since I won’t use flash.  A wood-stove and seating area are in the middle of the long room.  The background music is eclectic in the dining room and rain sounds accompany you in the bathroom.  The building had been an actual lumberyard and hardware store up to 5 years ago, thus the name Timberyard.  Service is friendly but not overly engaging.  However the pacing was quite nice.  They offer 3 different tasting menus, 4, 6 and 8 courses with optional drink pairings. Portion sizes are well controlled so the 8 is not too much food.   Continue reading

The Honours, Edinburgh, 9/20/17


The Honours is a good sized place with a modern interior design.  The entry half is a large bar with lounge seating as well as counter stools.  The dining room half has bench seating along one wall and well spaced free standing tables fill the rest of the room.  Some tables are fairly small while others are better sized.  I found it odd that when we were seated there were not many in the room yet, and it never did fill, yet they sat us at a small table right next to the noisy kitchen door.  They definitely are trying for an elegant atmosphere and service was fine just not terribly polished.  At lunch they have a special 2 or 3 course fixed price express menu, a couple fixed price 3 or 5 course menus and an a la carte menu.   Continue reading

The Catbird Seat, Nashville, 9/14/17

entrance is lower left blond wood door

The Catbird Seat seats just 22 people in the evening for a tasting menu.  Reservations are a must and that will give you the time  when you are to arrive.  The building has a club on the upstairs level but there is one blond wood door below where a small reception room with an elevator is located.  The hostess will escort you to the restaurant in the order you arrive for your appointed time.  Seating is at a U-shaped bar around the kitchen.  Our night they did not seat those who arrived at the same time at adjacent seats so people on either side will be ahead of or behind you in receiving the set menu.  People were of various ages and pretty friendly as were the 4 chefs.  Chef Ryan Poli was in there cooking as well as presenting and explaining courses.  His brother Matthew Poli serves as Beverage Director and has assembled a nice wine list to chose from as well as offering pairings.   Continue reading

Hattie B’s Hot Chicken, Nashville, 9/14/17


Hattie B’s is a well known place for Hot Chicken in Nashville and you can tell that by the line to get in.  You can count on 45 minutes or more if you get there much after they open.  The line is a mix of tourists and locals and the bakery next door was benefitting from some of the hungrier people who just couldn’t wait any longer.  The line leads to the counter where you order and pick up your drinks and get a number for your order to display at the table.  There are numerous combinations of chicken and 6 levels of heat for you to chose from from, no heat to “shut the cluck up!!!”.  Each order comes with some sides and then you can add more for $1 each.  They have several tap beers as well as cans but I saw no wine.  A cool pitcher of beer was just perfect after waiting in the warm sun and went well with the spicy meat.   Continue reading

minibar by José Andrés, Washington D.C., 9/9/17


Minibar offers only a tasting menu which is presented around an open kitchen.  It appeared that the menu is done in shifts for groups of 6 people. The multiple staff assemble your 25+ courses while you watch and are happy to interact and answer questions.  Pairings are offered in three levels of pricing or you can order your own bottles of wine.  Cocktails are also available through the next door barmini, which is physically connected to minibar.  The food is modern and beautiful and often not what the eye thinks it is.  There were no choices to make or supplements to contemplate.  At the end of the meal they do give you a menu and staff list, but descriptions are not a part of the menu.  At the end I’ve included a photo of our menu that evening but it changes regularly.  All the staff are super friendly, helpful and pacing moves along at a nice pace but do expect to be there at least 2-3 hours.   Continue reading