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#1 Sneakeater

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Posted 07 September 2011 - 04:17 PM

So if Martin Wishart is "just classic French", maybe 21212 is the alternative. It makes you appreciate "just classic French."

21212 was opened a couple of years ago by Paul Kitching, a chef who made his name in Manchester. (And who is not to be confused with leading Edinburgh chef Tom Kitchin.) It's been recognized: it has a Michelin star. But I don't get the feeling Edinburgh has clutched it to its heart.

The restaurant is gimmicky.

Its name is a gimmick -- or rather, refers to the menu gimmick. "21212" refers to the menu format: there are five courses; for the first (appetizer), third (main dish), and fifth (dessert), two choices are offered; for the second (soup) and fourth (cheese), you are offered no choice (the fourth is a cheese plate, though -- not a single cheese).

The food is gimmicky, too. Is the world waiting for a "Moroccan-Flavored Lamb and Haggis Stew", the appetizer I had? I doubt it. It didn't taste bad, in any way, nor was it ill-prepared -- it just didn't taste necessary, if you know what I mean. It didn't cause me to exclaim, "Moroccan spices and haggis -- why didn't anyone think of this before!" I just ate it, and thought, "OK, now I've had THAT."

As you'd expect, the fifth course was the dread Composed Cheese Course. But at least (this being someplace other than the USA) the cheese was served at a proper temperature.

The dining room, though, is a pleasure. It looks more like a living room. Instead of chairs, everyone sits on sofas or divans. But the tables are proportioned so that this is comfortable.

In all, 21212 is another manifestation of The Problems With Provincial Restaurants. Which, happily, is now avoidable elsewhere in Edinburgh.
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