There’s always a risk in taking a date to one of Edinburgh’s top restaurants but, in making such a selection, discretion and intimacy count for a great deal, especially when coupled with a creative sense of fun.
Paul Kitching’s 21212 (opened 2009, Michelin star by 2010) is tucked away on Royal Terrace, a distinguished, cobbled boulevard of 19th century townhouses on the side of Calton Hill. The lush and contemporary interior manages to pull off a sense of civilised cosiness even though it can hold around three dozen diners when operating at full tilt. The cooking is among Scotland’s best; dinner is structured around a choice of three starters, then soup, then a choice of three mains, then cheese, then a choice of three desserts.
Initially Kitching offered a choice of two starters, then soup, then two mains and so on, hence the restaurant name, but times move on. Dishes come with simple titles but a great deal of artistic endeavour and culinary engineering. A main billed as Three Little Fishes might arrive with beetroot and barley pudding, yeast and coconut, all on the same plate – waiting staff will explain. If your date is on the same foodie wavelength as you, you’ll have a blast.