21212 Edinburgh

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21212 sign (photo credit: The Justified Sinner)


We ate and stayed at the 21212 Restaurant in Edinburgh at the weekend. This restaurant with rooms is located in a Georgian townhouse at the end of a long terrace, halfway up Calton Hill and with superb views over the Firth of Forth.

The new owners have put a significant investment (some £4.5m) into the refurbishment, and it shows. The rooms are luxurious. We stayed in a room with a large bed, a wet room with a great shower, and a big comfy sofa. The dining room has curved high-backed banquettes giving the place a rather intimate and sumptuous feel. The chefs all work away behind a glass wall at the end of the dining room. When they were assembling dishes they looked as if they were gathering like monks in prayer.

The owners and staff are truly charming and provide a warm welcome. They remembered preferences we had stated either when booking or earlier in the evening. Service was really well paced – so much so that we didn’t really notice it.

But, what about the food? The 21212 premise is that there are two choices for starter, a single soup course, two choices for main course, a cheese course, finishing with two choices for dessert. 21212, geddit?

Although there are few choices, the menu is complex (see below). The portions are small, but totally packed with flavour. No two bites are the same, and I wished that we had the menus in front of us so that we could analyse and understand all the flavours. For me, the best part of the meal was the main course; the depth of flavour in the lamb was incredible, and hit a delicious spicy finish from the merguez sausage.

I only have two suggestions for improvement. First, the cheese course did not feature any Scottish or even British cheeses; secondly I would have welcomed twice the quantity of soup. But neither of those mild criticisms took away from the pleasure of the meal.

On the whole, 21212 is an different (eccentric?) dining experience. It is very much culinary theatre, but is matched by the tastes and textures of the food. An evening to savour and remember.

And the cost – £60 a head, but that included a complimentary pre-dinner drink. The wine list isn’t ludicrously expensive, and they charged less than a fiver for a single malt at the end!

“Fish & Chips Twice Please”
Warm Smoked Salmon Nugget Topped With A Sliver
Of Sliced, Apricot + Mint, 2 French Fries, (Chips),
Cornflakes (Yes) & A Mushy Pea Sauce.
Ketchup + Asparagus

Tender Fillet of Beef, “Banana-Shallots”,
Chinese Style Bean Sprouts, Rice,
Broken Lemon Curd Cheese Tart,
Sunflower Seeds + Pease Pudding.
Ginger & Peanut Butter Sauce, Fresh Basil

***

Soup

***

Slow Cooked Young Seabass “Scottish Flavours”
(Haggis, Neeps, Carrots, Smoked Haddock),
Garlic & Tomato, Dates, Almonds & Pineapple,
Feta Parchment, Balsamic Reduced Cream Sauce

Assiette of Lamb, Fillet, Merguez, Braised, Diced.
Mediterranean Styles, Rosemary, Currants + Walnuts,
Aubergine + Courgette Confit, Pimento + Yoghurt.
Wild Rice + Onions

***

Cheese

***

Slow Baked Then Glazed Vanilla & Egg Custard,
Cream Cheese, Chestnuts, Apricots & Oatmeal
Served With Pink Peppercorn Flapjack

Mascarpone Cheesecake, “Icky-Sticky”, Oatmeal

***

Coffee and truffles

TorryBattery on Flickr has some great pictures of the food from his visit earlier this year.

Urban Angel, Edinburgh

Really great breakfast in Urban Angel this morning – a surprisingly light basement cafe at the bottom of Hanover Street.

Homemade organic meusli with greek yoghurt and fresh berries.
Crunchy, tangy, fruity. Mmm.

French toast with bacon, fairtrade banana and maple syrup.
Brilliant bread – sort of light wheaten, really tasty bacon (presumably from a happy pig) and caramelised banana. Yum.

Oh, and nice website design too…

Hat tip: Peter Irvine in Scotland the Best – Best for Sunday Breakfast.

The Kitchin, Leith

After eating at Martin Wishart last September, we were keen to try out his near neighbour Tom Kitchin in Leith. So we bridged the East-West divide and went over to Edinburgh, wandered round Harvey Nicks and made our way to The Kitchin.

The restaurant is in an old quayside building in the old port of Leith, overlooking the new administrative offices of the Scottish Government. Calm and contemporary interior with dark wood and sage paint inside, warm and welcoming. Service friendly, knowledgeable and attentive (although at times too attentive).

Nibbles: Pissaladiere (Provencal pizza) & choux pastry stuffed with beetroot relish.

Amuse bouche: Parsnip soup, fresh apple, parsnip crisps.

Scallops: Pan-fried Orkney scallops with fregola pasta.
Pork and Langoustine: Roasted langoustine tails from Anstruther with boned and rolled pig’s head served with a crispy ear salad.

Hare: Hare with foie gras, cabbage & bacon farcie, butternut squash puree, celeriac puree, chestnuts and shallots.
Venison: Roast saddle of venison from Invercauld estate, with roasted apples from Moira’s garden and chestnuts,
served with a beetroot and celeriac gratin and a juniper berry sauce.

Cheese: Scottish and French cheeses.

Rhubarb and Yoghurt: stewed rhubarb, citrus yoghurt sorbet, cheesecake mousse, chocolate sauce, pecan crumble.

Coffee and petit fours.

All washed down with a nice D’Arenberg Laughing Magpie shiraz/viognier.

Unlike in Martin Wishart, the whole meal was coherent and worked well together. The starters were the highlight of the meal providing the best complement of flavours and textures. The venison was tender and worked well with the rich sauce. The hare was really dark and tasty, and came with a fairly powerful and concentrated reduction that could have been a touch lighter. But that’s the only minor criticism of an excellent meal.

Definitely a place to go back to, particularly as it’s only an hour or so away. I wonder how their Summer menu differs from their Winter menu. Planning already…