My mantra is ‘why have three courses when you can have 13?’ And, that is exactly what was in store when I was invited to Jo’s Kitchen to be treated to a tasting and wine pairing menu, giving me a flavour of what this delightful Haddington-based bistro offers.
Jo’s Kitchen is the brainchild of Jo Lawrence who has a passion for wonderful, fresh, seasonal, beautifully cooked food. Jo opened her bistro after a series of pop-up restaurants in East Lothian created a demand for her delicious home-cooking.
We are welcomed, with a glass of prosecco and seriously sublime quails egg benedict and salmon rillettes on ciabatta toast. The place looks simply stunning with fresh flowers and candles dotted about. And the snippets of conversation from invited guests make it clear people are here for the food and they love it.
As we take our seats in the Pheasant Room, the first of the wines to be paired with the first of the dishes arrives. And from this moment it is clearly evident that passion and quality are the hallmarks of Jo’s Kitchen. From preparation to presentation, every dish is lavished with care and attention. Everything is either sourced locally or made by the team and Jo prides herself on her use of sustainable products and seasonal cooking.
Our first plate of food was one of my favourite dishes and a combination which never fails to disappoint – salt and pepper squid with citrus mayo. Followed by dishes that hinted towards fusion; lemon and thyme chicken skewers with Indonesian satay sauce and Asian pork balls with chilli jam and lime. Delightful combinations, with flavours that were never overpowering. The last of the starters was Highland mussels, unusually but wonderfully combined with smoked haddock and whisky.
The first of the bite-sized mains arrived, a sliver of Barbary duck breast with passion fruit and bourbon jus and rosemary roasties looked just as tempting as its predecessors, and smelt and tasted fantastic. The following dishes; sea bass on a lobster bisque risotto, flat iron steak with handcut chips, chicken escalope with a parmesan and basil crust and fresh tomato salsa, were all beautifully presented and everything on the taster-sized plates was faultless. The dishes just kept giving.
Our evening ended with quintuple (yes five!) gorgeously presented and mouthwatering puddings; chocolate pannacotta tart, mango Eton mess, dark chocolate salted caramel pot, black cherry Bakewell with raspberry mascarpone and white chocolate and peppermint mousse.
Asking my fellow guests their favourite dish of the evening created interesting debate as each dish was mouthwateringly mulled over. So, if we could design our own Jo’s Kitchen tasting menu, it would be double portions of mussels; double portions of Barbary duck; and double again of dark chocolate salted caramel pots. But don’t just take our word for it, you really should find out for yourself. After all, each dish is wonderfully delicious and they won’t judge you for licking the plate.
73 Market Street, Haddington | t: 01620 824280 | www.jos-kitchen.co.uk