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
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
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.