Bruntsfield Place, Edinburgh
We visited Kora a few days after it opened, back in July, and loved it. But then it was in its infancy, and Mr Kitchin was a friendly and visible presence. The perfect storm of Brexit, COVID and cost-of-living crisis means that restaurants are even more vulnerable than they were before, and he was clearly focused on giving this place a decent start. The question is, five months on, with a slightly longer menu and the restaurant staff given more autonomy, is Kora still delivering five star meals?
The answer is: yes. Yes, it is.
It’s a welcoming place, with a cosy, informal vibe; the staff are warm without being overbearing, professional without being stuffy. The diners before us are running a little late, so we have to wait a while for our table, but we’re happy enough to sit at the bar with some wine (a Chilean Sauvignon Blanc), perusing the menu. It’s hard to pick from the delights on offer.
In the end, we both opt for the salmon starter. This comprises two thick slices of smoked salmon, served with a buckwheat galette, spinach, a perfectly poached egg and a buttery hollandaise sauce. It’s mouthwateringly-wonderful: the thick orange yolk cascading over everything; the salmon robust yet still delicate. It’s a great beginning!
My main course is the Sika deer: a venison pithivier with some medium rare roasted loin, both cooked to perfection. I’m worried before it arrives that it’ll be too much, too rich, with all the pastry and red meat, but it’s perfectly judged, so that I feel satisfied rather than bloated. This comes with celeriac, which, although not my favourite vegetable, is beautifully cooked, and complements the meat well. Perhaps it would be better to have something fresh and green to offset all that richness, but this is just a minor quibble.
Philip has the partridge, which comes en croute, with a roasted leg on the side, as well as some salsify. This is succulent, well-spiced and subtly flavoured, the pastry flaky and crisp. He declares it to be ‘faultless’ and relishes every mouthful.
Philip’s pudding is chocolate, i.e. warm doughnut balls, a dark chocolate sauce, and Chantilly cream. It’s one of those dishes that makes you say ‘oooh’ a lot; it feels indulgent and nostalgic in equal measure. My cinnamon is something of an eye-opener, so much more than its description gives away. A real contender for my ‘Off Menu dream meal dessert’, this consists of a cinnamon panna cotta, served with tart, crisp pieces of apple and an apple sorbet, with a small, warm cinnamon bun on the side. I just know I’ll be ordering this again before too long.
We decline coffee, pay our bill, and head off into the cold, night air. Kora is only a ten minute walk from home; what a privilege to live so near a place as stellar as this.