Tom Kitchin's KORA aims to showcases a range of light, fresh, inventive and inspiring dishes, honouring the best of Scottish seasonal cooking. We sent our restaurant critic Ron Mackenna to visit last week. Here's his verdict

Kora by Tom Kitchin


Tuesday night. Edinburgh. Somewhere posh. Must be more fried chicken then.

Last week it was at Noto (by chef owner and current Edinburgh favourite Stuart Ralston). This time it’s at Kora (by fairly recent Edinburgh favourite Tom Kitchin).

Last week: £16 for three, largeish, crisp, very juicy and mode-ishly coffee-soaked, um, chicken nuggets. Great taste. But ooft. That price.

This week we’re only being charged £14. On a par with Noto? Er, no. It’s okay, certainly a fashionable dish, there’s a nice Asian slaw alongside but the chicken itself: instantly forgettable. Not enough chicken in the pieces to make any impact against the bread-crumbing, not enough zing to that crumbing either. Disappointing.

But full disclosure here. I was curious enough after that Noto experience to try and book a table tonight at one of Ralston’s other places: Tipo. No chance.

The Herald: Kora by Tom KitchinKora by Tom Kitchin (Image: free)

I then booked Kora but now we’re here? I didn’t need to. It’s half full at best, a lazy, languid, mid-week feel to a place which is itself just a number of inter-connected rooms decorated in a style that I don’t get. Is it meant to be the 1970s?

Those partitions don’t help as staff easily disappear from view, we will have to get up to get the bill, help ourselves to more cutlery, that lighting doesn’t help as it’s bright enough to zap any atmosphere.

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At least we’ve got tunes: “You spin me right round baby, right round, like a record”. Yes Dead or Alive. Kinda appropriate.

Anyway, forget the duff chicken, skate over the pork scratchings (super puffy) with an aggressive fish sauce and let’s talk about this Broccoli Tempura. This is my kind of food. I like it. But neither Jack nor Victoria, who’ve walked over the Meadows out there to chum me through dinner, agree. Could be the broccoli is just too soft?

Moving on to the good stuff, because there is definitely good stuff. There’s this. So damn jam-packed with flavour that Jack and I will be like a relay team slicing sections off that Caesar-salad-stacked Romaine leaf; crunchy salty bacon, crisp cubes of bread, perfect dressing quantity and almost simultaneously butter-knifing through the delicious braised Highland Wagyu shin, itself a beefy tube of meaty pleasure.

Then there’s a lush, sticky gravy to be scraped from the bottom of the plate. This, we agree, we would come back for. Even at £28.50. Maybe order up another portion of that potato dauphinoise, two cubes of fabulous layered potato.

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The Pierre Koffmann’s Skinny Fries? Fiver for a little cupful (these are available frozen, aren’t they)? of bitty, disappointing slivers largely? They’re a definite no.

A no, too, to the Wild Garlic Papardelle, Poached Egg Yolk, Loch Arthur Cheese. Clever. Pasta probably made in-house. Very pretty indeed as it sprawls across the bottom of one of those dreadful heat-sucking ceramic dishes they seem to serve absolutely everything in. But even at £11.50 somehow completely missing the point of a bowl of pasta which is to to be cohesive, warming, and comforting.

Oh, there’s another pasta. Tiny little Fregula in a promising Fennel, Curry and Coconut sauce. It too fails the above test. It too having the warmth sucked from it by that ridiculous plate. And this one’s £21.

We have Beef Gyoza, hand-made, a soy ginger and chill broth that fills maybe 20% of the bowl, the gyozo themselves pleasant, but disintegrating as they are spooned up.

Then a Newhaven Day Boat Fish and Shellfish Soup, Rouille, Melba Toast for £28. Just too clever again. The seafood exposed like at low tide, some mussels, a scallop, a couple of white fish hunks, potato and a good fish stock at the bottom.

The Herald: Kora by Tom KitchinKora by Tom Kitchin (Image: free)

Like everything in here, it was designed to look great. Eats poorly though. Cooling rapidly as we watch, seafood having to be rolled to get flavoured, abandoned half-eaten.

And damned when my two young pals declare it not as good as the fish chowder they have delivered from one of those fashionable cook-at-home delivery services. Aw.

Kora by Tom Kitchin

14 Bruntsfield Place, Edinburgh


Menu: It’s Edinburgh-cool, righteous Scottish sourcing, hand-made pastas, Wagyu shins, even a bowl of Scottish fish soup and, of course, fried chicken. On message. 4/5

Service: We had to get up to get the bill, we helped ourselves to the extra cutlery we needed, at these prices? The layout makes it harder for the pleasant staff. Dishes not hot enough. 3/5

Price: What can you say? Prices are what people will pay. A very small portion of fried chicken £14, a so-so soup £28, yet the Wagyu Shin at £28.50 well worth it. 4/5

Atmosphere: There’s a strange lack of any controlling feel or identity to the place when we are in, the decor doesn’t help, the lighting feels mood-less. Not for me. 3/5

Food: High five to the Wagyu Shin again. Otherwise so-so. Not helped by being served lukewarm in sprawling ceramic dishes. Being generous? 7/10