The Castle Terrace may only have been open for a year but it's already one of Edinburgh's top dining destinations. Kerstin Kühn speaks to Newcomer of the Year Catey winner Dominic Jack
Over the past few years, Edinburgh has grown into one of the UK's leading dining destinations, now boasting a string of top-class restaurants including five with Michelin stars.
The Castle Terrace, a joint-venture from best friends Tom Kitchin and Dominic Jack, has only helped to elevate the Scottish capital's fine-dining credentials. Open for just a year, it was named a rising star by Michelin in January and this week picked up the prestigious Newcomer of the Year Catey.
Located in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle, the modern, 50-seat restaurant is headed up by chef-patron Jack, who first met Kitchin at Gleaneagles in the early 1990s. After working at Fleur de Sel in Haslemere, he moved to France aged 21, where he spent eight years working at three-Michelin-starred establishments including l'Arpège and Taillevent. After a stint in Istanbul as chef de cuisine at the city's Swissôtel, Edinburgh-born Jack returned home in 2008, first joining the brigade at the Kitchin and then launching the Castle Terrace last July.
Given his background, it's no surprise that Jack's cooking is deeply rooted in French cuisine, while proudly showcasing seasonal Scottish produce. "I got it drummed into me in France that it's all about the produce. It has to be the best and you don't do too much to it to take away the flavour," he says.
That means Scottish beef, lamb and game next to seasonal vegetables - currently peas, broad beans and asparagus - and fantastic seafood such as wild salmon, halibut and scallops. "The scallops are hand-dived in Orkney and come in fresh everyday. They're huge - even in France we didn't get scallops like that," Jack enthuses.
Diners at the Castle Terrace choose from three different menus for which vegetarian options are available, too. There's the seasonal à la carte; the seven-course surprise tasting menu (£60/£100 with wine); and the celebration of the season menu of chef's suggestions, which changes daily. At lunch there's a set menu priced £19 for three courses.
Jack cooks everything à la minute - meaning each element of the dish, including the garnish, is made fresh to order - which he says complicates the service. "It definitely makes it a lot tougher but it means the guests get the best possible experience," he says.
A starter of spelt risotto from Doves Farm is a constant on his menu served with seasonally changing protein such as seared langoustine tails (£17) in the early spring or crispy ox tongue and a veal heart confit (£14) as we approach summer.
Main courses include wild rabbit from Roxburghshire (£23) comprising a crispy pastille of braised leg spiced with cumin, and saddle cooked sous-vide before being wrapped in Ayershire bacon and finished in the pan to order. It is served with a brochette of rabbit kidney and liver, carrots and a caper sauce.
Puddings continue the theme of seasonal Scottish produce with current desserts including ravioli of lemon grass, served with poached Scottish rhubarb and a rhubarb consommé (£7) as well as a familiar pistachio soufflé with pistachio ice-cream (£8). "I nicked it from Pierre Koffmann," Jack admits.
The Castle Terrace showcases the best the Scottish larder has to offer serving a menu that perfectly adheres to the nature to plate philosophy sister restaurant the Kitchin has become so well known for. Jack's food is refined without being over the top. Come October the Michelin star will surely be his.Sample dishes from the menu Starters Scottish asparagus from Eassie Farm, with a free-range poached egg and morel mushrooms £14 Seared hand-dived Orkney scallops, with an endive tart tatin and grapefruit confit £15Main courses Seared fillet of wild Scottish salmon on a raw spring vegetable salad with olives £28 Roasted loin of Ayrshire pork, with artichoke and basil gnocchi and a Parmesan sauce £23 Hampe of Scotch beef, seared, with potato millefeuille, tomatoes, curly endive and a beef jus £24Desserts Pithivier of caramelised Mouneyrac apples, with vanilla ice-cream £7 Millefeuille of chocolate and cardamom, with a caraway muffin and dark chocolate sorbet £7 A selection of British and French cheese £10Castle Terrace 33-35 Castle Terrace, Edinburgh EH1 2EL Tel: 0131-229 1222 www.castleterracerestaurant.com