21212, a proper looker of a restaurant, sits up on the Royal Terrace, a ten minute scoot from the centre of E’burg. The Michelin lot bestowed it with a twinkler in 2010. For the flush amongst us, there are bedrooms, too.
Pre-scran drinks in the luxe drawing room may sound a bit Downton but make for a good chance to have a nosey at the handsome decor – this place has been lovingly and sympathetically restored – as well as being a timely reminder to stick the Euro millions on at the weekend.
‘21212’ alludes to the concise menu offering: just 2 choices of starter, main and dessert with soup and cheese in the ‘1’ slots. Menu-ditherers, be gone.
We choose to fill the boots on all but the soup, because, well; soup. That said, given the inventiveness of the rest of the menu it’s unlikely that you’d get a plain old bowl of steaming cock-a-leekie here. See for yer sen:
Course, in the wrong hands this ‘busy’ way of cooking could all go a bit amateur Masterchef; but, thankfully, there’s enough about this bunch to bring it all together into a satisfying, wink-wink display of technique, texture and flavour.
The truffle blanquette was a breezy bowl of stuff that haven’t been arsed around with too much; in this case earthy duxelles, delicate gigli pasta and a creamy, crunchy coleslaw. We’re meant to point and laugh at foams now, I know, but this one of coriander was cracking and bought the lot together.
Elsewhere, a meaty piece of salmon got a tad lost amongst everything else; we ended up referring back to the menu/crib-sheet to identify – geekily and unsuccessfully – the constituent parts. Only a slight misfire: we still troughed it.
Main courses brought a more united culinary front, and we stopped trying to tick off each ingredient, instead getting on with the task in hand, namely: necking the stuff.
A soy sauce laced mayo was plate-lickingly moreish; the slab of trout it dressed was fresh and light. Walnut and cauliflower added toothy bite.
Our maiden visit to the Box Tree a couple of years ago introduced us to the best piece of chicken we’d ever had the pleasure of pushing into our faces. You know the drill: low and slow sous vide; hot pan; butter.
The chunk we got here – tender, fibrous – was its equal. Like the Robson and Jerome conundrum, we couldn’t pick a favourite. Diced, frazzled chunks of gammon will only ever add goodness.
Nice touch with the cheese: they give you tons of it. This saves you the double headed ballache of having to pick just a couple and, worse, trying to pronounce Rigotte de Condrieu, or similar, as if you know what you’re talking about. You get the lot, here, and it’s an array of the good stuff.
A wispy chocolate rice pudding with savoury sesame snaps did the business as matters came to a close, but the winning dessert was the riff on creme brulee.
Here be crunchy meringue and (Crunchie) honeycomb; rich, thick custard and a sharp thwack of blackberry to deglaze the gob. Worked a treat.
The semi-open kitchen looks like a jolly place to work, with chefs switching, in a beat, from jovial lolzy-bantz to eyes-down, hushed graft. Out front, the lady running the show looks after things with relaxed authority; it might look dead posh but you’re not made to feel at all plebby.
Let’s face it, 21212 might give the meat and two veg purists a bit of a fright, but fear ye not. Look beyond that enigma-code menu, load your fork with a bit of everything and you’ll go home satisfyingly full.
Lunch costs from £22-£55 depending how hungry you are, which is a right do for this standard. Competitive, too, given some of the catch-all places to be found in the centre.
Prices increase a bit for dinner (tea).