“ Address: 15 Huntley St / Inverness / IV3 NPR / Telephone: 01 463 259119 „
The Kitchen is a new-ish restaurant situated on the bank of the river ness. The Kitchen is a sister restaurant to The Mustard Seed, which is on the otherside of the river. The top floors have a lovely view of the river ness, as the restaurant is built slightly over the road so you can have a lovely view out of the big windows. However unfortunately because we were a big party (12 of us) we got seated on the bottom floor so didn't get to see the view. I have been here twice, both with my friends and have been very impressed both times. On each occasion we chose to go for the early evening meal which is a lot cheaper - £10.95 for two courses and a drink. The menu was very nice. It had a wide range of food which all sounded really nice - it was extremely hard to choose! It also had plenty of options for vegetarians which was good. I ended up going for the soup for a starter and the steak for the main course, both were lovely. Between all of our group each main course on the menu was tried, and everyone was very satisfied with their food. The service in The Kitchen was very quick also. We got seated as soon as we arrived and did not have to wait long at all for our orders to be taken or for our food to come. The waitress which served us was helpful and chatty. If you have been to the Mustard Seed and enjoyed it then you are sure to like The Kitchen, i would say the food at the Mustard Seed is a tiny bit better however The Kitchen is cheaper so overall they are about equal.
***Background*** The reason for visiting this restaurant for lunch was down to my good friend, who we spent some time with recently, whilst in Inverness for the weekend. She assured me that when she had dined there previously, that the food was delicious and the service was excellent along with the fact that the prices were reasonable too. The Kitchen is situated just near the main shopping area of Inverness and sits on the banks of the River Ness, giving spectacular views through the glass-fronted building that is set over three levels. It is quite a small place but also boasts a heated terrace for those who enjoy eating outside. Due to the fact that it was blowing a gale when we visited, we decided that it would be best to eat inside but we were given a wonderful window seating on the middle floor. ***Arriving*** When we arrived we waited at the designated area to be seated and it was only a couple of minutes before we were being directed to our table that my friend had already pre-booked for us. The reason for the pre-booking is that this restaurant is always busy at the weekends and my friend assured us that this was the best way to avoid the disappointment of being turned away. We had booked for 1pm and our table was obviously ready for us with lovely wooden tables with white napkins already set out, along with some unusually shaped wine glasses that looked a wee bit like small vases to us. Our drinks order was taken and we all decided that with a busy day ahead of us, we would stick to fizzy water or lemonade that were all served with ice and a slice of lemon. We were given menus to peruse and our order was taken shortly afterwards by a young waitress who I have to say wasn't the most friendly or cheerful. ***The Menu*** The lunch menu is split into two sections. The first section is a standard two-course lunch of a starter and a main course for £5.95. This sounded quite good at first although we did notice that quite a few things on this menu had additional charges, which to me seemed a little bit strange for a supposedly fixed price meal The second section of the menu was split into the standard starters, main courses and desserts, as you would expect from any restaurant. There is quite a good selection on here although some of the special items on the chalkboards are a bit fancy and can be expensive for a lunchtime outing. ***The Wait*** Only one of our party decided to have a starter of the chilled galia melon with fresh fruits and sorbet and this was brought out after a wait of around 10 minutes, which I thought was reasonable considering how busy the restaurant was at the time. This was eaten rather quickly though, as to be honest portion sizes aren't that big here. I was told that it tasted really lovely and it wasn't too expensive so it seemed reasonable. We then sat and chatted and waited, and chatted some more before finally being brought our main meals. We calculated the wait from order to table as being 45 minutes. Now this might not have seemed too bad if we had ordered something that took a long time to cook but my friend and I had some pasta served in a tomato and garlic sauce with smoked ham, her husband had a minute steak on ciabatta with onions and my hubby had a burger with relish and fries. Now I understand when a restaurant is busy that waiting is often an issue but not once were we told that there would be a delay and this did annoy us slightly. ***The Food*** As already mentioned the starter of melon, fruit and sorbet was described as a lovely way to start off a meal but that's when things started to go horribly wrong. My husband was lucky because his burger was great and he said the special relish was very tasty but after stealing one of his fries I wasn't very impressed as I felt that McDonalds fries were often crispier and hotter. Despite this, he hungrily ate it all up with gusto and said that he enjoyed it thoroughly. The rest of us weren't so lucky with our choices and it wasn't long before a look of disappointment fell over my friend's face, as she realised that her bowl of pasta wasn't just a tasteless mass of tomato puree but that it was half cold too. Of course mine was exactly the same and to top it off we couldn't taste the garlic that was promised and the smoked ham came in huge chunks rather than bitesize pieces. To be honest it looked and tasted as though they had taken a packet of reformed ham slices and torn them in half. The penne pasta was extremely overdone and it was very difficult to stab a bit without it totally breaking up into a zillion pieces. I'm afraid that neither of us could even force this down despite trying and we found it was stone cold after a couple of minutes. I wish I could say that was all that was wrong but my friend's husband was also extremely disappointed to find that his minute steak was overcooked and tasted like rubber. He was unable to cut this and just couldn't eat it either. ***The Service*** The same waitress, who served us, hesitantly came back over to check with us and see if we were enjoying our food and although we all wanted to say it was fine, our faces couldn't lie and we explained what the problem was. She instantly asked if we would like to have it replaced with fresh but we explained that we had already waited 45 minutes for it to arrive and that we would have had to go and renew our parking tickets, as there was no way on those time-scales that we could have been finished in the two hours we had previously purchased. She seemed unsure of what to do and said that she would get a manager to have a word with us. After waiting for another 10 minutes, there was still no one in sight and by this time my husband had finished his meal too. Again another waitress came over and we said we weren't happy and that 3 out of the 4 meals ordered were inedible. Eventually a senior member of staff came over although he didn't say whether he was the manager or not. We explained the problem and he reluctantly agreed that we only pay for the starter and the burger along with our drinks. To be honest I think that after the delay without explanation and the state of the food, we should have been told that we didn't have to pay at all but we didn't want to cause too much of a fuss and I knew my friend was feeling awful, after recommending this place to us. While we were complaining another diner told us how they had waited for over an hour for their food and that it wasn't cooked properly either. I'm not sure if the restaurant staff were just having a bad day or whether this is the first signs of a new restaurant losing the plot, but I certainly wouldn't be in a hurry to return and our friends actually told the staff that they certainly wouldn't be returning. ***The Prices*** The starters prices ranged from just under £2 to just over £4, which seemed pretty reasonable for the type of things that were on offer. Choices ranged from soup of the day to a salmon and prawn salad. The melon starter cost us £2.75. The main courses on the menu started at around the £5 mark and went up to £7. The pasta was £6.95 whilst the minute steak and burger dishes came in at just under £6. There were a number of lovely sounding desserts on the menu but after the farce with the main courses, we didn't order anything else. They were all roughly priced around the £4 mark and included delights such as Banoffee Cheesecake, Demerara Rum Pannacotta and Rich Chocolate Sponge with a chocolate and orange sauce. ***My Thoughts*** I felt so sorry for my friends because they had said that they had eaten here in the past and it had been lovely. They had chosen it because it was a little bit different and the views of the River Ness from the windows were spectacularly relaxing although the River was a little bit high and wildly flowing at the time of our visit. Unfortunately for us being first time visitors, it would be a place that we wouldn't return to. The staff weren't so much rude, as just non-caring and although we were checked back on, our obvious displeasure wasn't really taken seriously. If this had been dealt with quicker and in a more professional way then this review could have been very different indeed. The menu isn't too bad although to be honest the portion sizes for the pasta were quite small and my friend did tell me that she hadn't received that much smaller a portion when she had this dish as a starter once before making us wonder how they could charge double the price for the main course version. Luckily I was able to make my friend feel better after describing a time when I had recommended a restaurant and the same thing had happened and I don't blame her in the slightest, as this could have been such a lovely way to spend a lunch with friends. I'm just so pleased that the excellent company made up for it and that I had already eaten a full breakfast that morning at our guesthouse.
Fine dining with a great view.