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21212 Restaurant

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Dined at this restaurant on Saturday and I thought I would add my tuppence.

First of all, beautiful location and building, the main dining room is very elegant, the upstairs sitting room is plush and extremely tasteful. The whole place just oozes sophistication basically.

As for the food, the menu varied quite a bit from what has been posted here so far; the first course was smoked salmon vs. smoked haddock based; the haddock option was completely overpowered by the fish but nice in texture and stunning visually. Almost forgot that the bread consisted of a mysterious combination of nuts and fruits, slightly underbaked and a tad too filling.

Soup was white asparagus, apple and a few other mystery ingredients I couldn't quite place; nice and well-balanced flavours.

The main dishes disappointed. One was a chicken breast with chorizo, the other a wild turbot with chorizo and a 3-cheese-sauce. IMO, fish and cheese sauces rarely work and the blob of chorizo was just completely over the top.

Cheese dish was nice and unusual, 4 frenchies with the usual assortment of biscuits / crackers. Favourite cheese here was a soft buttermilk / tarragon and paprika based one from Le Nord (close to Calais was all I could understand). The coconut and porridge crackers work and are very nice.

Next came the inbetween course of milk served out of a quirky cow in little paper cups. Bizarre and hardly revolutionary in taste. Not sure how this fitted into the whole menu.

Finally, desserts which were a baked-lemon style creme brulee (almost) and a deconstructed bread & butter pudding with a white chocolate air which didn't seem to taste of chocolate at all. The baked lemon dish was really nice. I think the lemon dish came with two types of dryish biscuits, one awful and salty, the other sublime and laced pistacho nuts.

Overall, I would describe the place as hit or miss. Pleasant dining experience with some original and bold dishes, alternated by overworked overcomplicated combinations. I guess at this stage they're still fine-tuning and Paul is probably building up a new oeuvre of favourites.

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  • 1 month later...

Having visited 21212 for the first time a few weeks ago and having kept up to date with the above 'incoming reviews' I have to say that I was exceptionally pleased with the place (not only because it is only a 5 minutes walk from home - hoorah for doorstep dining!)

First of all the decor of the place is amazing, as is the kitchen itself - it is a joy to watch calm and composed teamwork executed with almost surgical precision. I would note that it was very quiet for Saturday night (I saw 5 tables in total dine over the course of the evening) - is this normal for late July in Edinburgh or indicative of location/ a recently opened establishment/ recession? Having read a recent interview with Tony Singh who noted the massive reduction in business caused by the lack of financial institution 'business meetings' in his private dining room I think it could be quite an unfortunate time for such a promising place to open.

As for the food I was more than happy - the baby turbot was just cooked through enough to retain a semi-translucent quality and to hold its texture without flaking. My partner's dishes were also excellent. As it was a few weeks ago (and I don't make notes in a restaurant unless its strictly professional) I don't want to get into too much detail suffice to say it was technically and compositionally joyful across the board.

Overall I think the keywork for this place is 'balance'. The execution of everything from the service to the menu was a perfect balance of juxtaposition resulting in a stellar experience. There is a theory used when cooking junk food that suggests that high salt levels and high sugar levels in perfect balance are largely pleasing and addictive because they satisfy the pleasure centres in the brain without being over obvious on the palate and I suppose this is a perfect (though totally inappropriate) allegory for the features of 21212. Without this balance I don't think anything would work in quite the same way.

Much has been said about small portions, well I have some appetite on me and must admit when I got my main my heart sank a little - however, there are five courses to get through and after realising that the composition of the full meal wasn't going to be so much of an 'introduction- main event- afters' affair, put these notions aside and waited to see what happened next. As it happened the cheese board appeared and made everything slot into place portion wise and, following the 'chocolate trifle' for the final course, was perfectly and very nicely full, without that cloying overindulgent lingering of 'I can't breath unless standing up' which can come from some meals. Not sure how having two courses for lunch would work with respect to the portioning though - I would be interested to hear from anyone who has tried this.

I will definitely be returning soon (and stealing interior decor ideas).

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Did you get the milk from the cow shaped milk jug served in little paper cups? I think it was favoured with porridge and ??? (like you I dont make notes) but thought it was a cute idea. I found the soup course more of an amuse really. I really enjoyed my meal there, and would like to go back sometime, but I am still to do Martin Wishart, so thats next when I am in Edinburgh.

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Yes Katie came and served the milk in the cow jug - I agree its a really nice touch. I think it was porridge and coconut - a nice segue into something sweet after the cheese course, especially as the cheese was served with oatcakes, a nice extension of those flavours.

The soup was in many ways more of a substantial amuse but it was nevertheless impressive -we had yellow split pea soup with roasted garlic and a basil oil through the centre - the individual layers worked really nicely together.

One thing I neglected to mention yesterday however was my frustration with the cutlery, which made it quite tricky to eat the food out of the deep bowls it was served in - both the crockery and the cutlery were beautiful and stylish in their own right but they weren't well matched and this was a bit of a shame. I think earlier reviews gave similar feedback on this issue.

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  • 1 year later...

Tried it yesterday at lunch. I personally feel no desire to return, but I can see exactly why so many of you rave about it. Dishes with so many flavours and unusual combinations require great skill and judgement (as well as a perfect organisation in the kitchen) simply not to end up in a mess. And in fact the end result was much better than simply not a mess: it was a balanced composition.

It's just that it failed to excite me. I have no prejudice against 'avant garde' or indeed any style or ethnicity of cooking. I eat everything. I believe that dishes are objectively either good or bad, that a chef objectively either can cook or he cannot. Then comes subjective taste and preference. And while 21212 was good, it was not a conception of cuisine I could relate to.

I could not find a focus in those dishes. And the issue of portion size, raised by some, is not as philistine as it seems: I think that a piece of meat or fish needs a minimum size and quantity to offer a full gustatory experience, to afford the natural succulence, texture, moistness and flavour to occupy your palate. That meagre single scallop cut in half, that guinea fowl sliced in those ever so thin three bites, simply failed to make an impression, and were overwhelmed, rather than enhanced, by the army of other flavours (and offering farmed seabass, in a menu with just two main courses, confirms a certain lack of interest in raw materials). I felt no real joy while eating (except with the excellent cheese dish).

You know when you read a novel and you recognise it is fantastically well written, but you just can't get interested in the core story? I felt the same yesterday - I did not succeed in getting interested in the story in Paul Kitching's dishes. For different reasons I had also failed to be excited, and yet greatly admired, M Wishart, while I am indeed excited by the Kitchin. But I go out to be excited, not to admire.

There were also some specific service issues. (1) The cutlery and the plates, let's face it, are ridiculous and uncomfortable. Do I go too far in saying that this fact reveals a bit too much narcissism and showmanship and love of appearances, and a bit too little concern for customer's comfort? (2) When asked (by Katie) if everything was alright, we said the food was 'nice' (if we have no specific complaint we don't feel it is appropriate to bother staff, in mid-lunch, with our world view on cooking :cool:... ), but we did mention we found the cutlery and plates uncomfortable. Her answer 'I hear what you are saying, but we are not going to change it' came across as just a little awkward and defensive. (3) We felt uncomfortable at the unclothed table with the sofa near the window (which most people say they love!) where we were seated, mainly because we like clothed tables and because I did not fit properly under it - there is a cross bar and my own legs are very long. We mentioned this to a couple of staff and we got no offer to move to another table (we did not ask directly to be moved because a refusal would have been a lunch spoiler, and also because after all we prefer polite prodding, and seeing how service works, over blunt requests...).(4) I do not consider it acceptabale in a fine dining restaurant, where I pay for much more than food, that the table is not cleaned at the end of service.

Current prices are higher than those mentioned in the thread. The whole hog (5 courses) is 65 at dinner (the only option) and 55 at lunch, with the options of 4, 3 and 2 dishes at 45, 35 and 25 pounds.

Edited by Man (log)
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