Located in the luxury Rutland Hotel in the heart of Edinburgh’s West End, Kyloe has a bit of an identity crisis. Officially billed as a “Steak restaurant and Grill”, its menu offers far more than the average steak house. However, steaks are a speciality, so to drop that from its title would be absurd. One thing however is certain: the quality of the raw ingredients and the consistency of the cooking justify the epithet “gourmet.”
There is no mistaking that this first floor restaurant, commanding views of Edinburgh castle and with a capacity for 96 covers, offers beef in abundance. The seating and décor are suitably bovine: booths in mock cowhide, banquettes in real leather around well-spaced striped oak tables, and a stuffed bull’s head are initial indicators. However, the real fun showstoppers, mounted on an end wall, are four large prints from Caroline Shotton’s Great Mooster series, reimagining famous paintings – by Dali and Picasso for instance – using a cow motif.
Other attractive funky features include hanging whiskey barrels acting as large lampshades, huge oak “wheels” of ceiling décor and mirrored columns. Jazz muzak contributes to the relaxed, night club feel.
Taking its name from the Scottish Gaelic for Highland beef cattle, Kyloe offers cuts from pedigree Aberdeen Angus breeds, sourced from Hardiesmill, (based in Gordon in the Borders), whose animal husbandry is exemplary. In David Haetzman, the restaurant has a head chef who is really passionate in sourcing prime quality meat and presenting it at its best. He ensures his front of house staff fully brief diners with their “Steak Presentation,” which not only identifies the various cuts but gives a realistic indication of the portion size and the ideal method of cooking. Ross, who served me, was enthusiastic in his explanations of the parts of the animal, including some I’ve never heard of!
On the a la carte menu, the 12 starters include an impressive range of seafood – scallops, mussels, oysters, smoked fish – to balance the carniverous main courses. But even here, sea bass, pork cheeks, vegetarian mezze platter are offered as alternatives. Nor is there a limited choice on the dessert menu, with six alternatives and a cheese option.
The wine list, by the glass and bottle, features an interesting selection, including Kyloe’s signature wine, “Angus the Bull” an Australian Cabernet Sauvignon, ideal with steak.
I visited Kyloe for a restful Sunday dinner, avoiding the noise of a crowded Friday or Saturday evening. The pleasant buzz of contented diners augured well for an enjoyable meal. Service under restaurant manager John was welcoming and accommodating, especially regarding which table was best – I’m fussy about this and often wonder why some restaurants – not Kyloe fortunately – dim the lights so much.
Nibbles of crusty bread, good butter and a vibrant red pepper and feta dip enlivened the taste buds.
A starter of seared king scallops was accurately timed to produce a caramelised crust and sweet, succulent flesh. Crisp Iberico ham gave a gentle saltiness and contrasting texture, whilst a velvety smooth puree of Jerusalem artichoke added a rich, deep earthiness. This combination was lifted by a reduction of sherry vinegar which finished the dish perfectly.
For the main course, I opted not for a single steak but a composite dish which demonstrated a greater variety of skills. “A plate of beef” comprised three well executed elements. A generous fillet cooked medium rare, revealing under a firm crust the meltingly juicy texture expected of this prime cut. Topped with a crown of not too sweet oxtail “marmalade” this took pride of place. Contrasting in cooking and presentation was a croquette of panko coated braised shin with a deeper flavour than the fillet. The third and richest element of this “nose to tail” dish featured bone marrow with a foie gras crust, a partnership which produced a wonderfully fragrant aroma. Perched on a puree of kohlrabi and finished with a red wine sauce, this was a tour de force of meat cookery. Given its substantial size, this dish only needed a mixed salad as an accompaniment.
For dessert I chose the lightest of the options, Banana and chocolate chip soufflé. Light and well risen, it was perhaps a little too sweet for most adult tastes. Nevertheless, the pecan ice cream which accompanied it was well flavoured and of smooth texture.
A meal at Kyloe is a real pleasure, impressive on all fronts – the provenance of the meat, the precision of the cooking, the informative, unobtrusive service and the seductive ambience. A reasonable price point both in the food and wine adds to the attraction of dining. Overall, it is not difficult to see why Kyloe has been successful in the highly competitive Edinburgh dining scene. Fine Dining Guide will return to sample the succulent steaks from the Grill menu and will follow is future progress with interest.