For the majority of us, a date with a Michelin restaurant is a very rare occurrence, and this was indeed my first experience of such. So, I cannot contrast and compare with other awarded restaurants, nor should I have to I guess, as each will have its own approach and style? This review is, therefore, as it should be, a report on my experience to enable you to understand what to expect.
Booking a table over the phone in advance was straight forward. I was also asked at this stage about any dietary requirements for the 4 in our group. My wife is pregnant so certain cheeses or seafoods are to be avoided, so I raised this. Encouragingly, I spied that this note appeared on the table plan, which I caught sight of on arrival at reception.
Being located in a Georgian townhouse the spaces inside are homely, yet spacious. The dining room has a modern feel to the décor, the tables are spaced far enough to give privacy, but not too far to retain that homely feel. A large glass partition separates the dining area from the open kitchen.
Seated, we were presented with the menu, the first point the waitress made was that the 21212 concept had now been extended to a 31313 concept ! (we did query if they were now planning to change the sign outside, but there was no intention to do this!). This then gives the diner a greater choice, so all is good. It seems you now also have a choice at this stage (or even during your meal I guess) to decide if you fancy a 3, 4 or 5 course meal. We all opted for the 5 course extravaganza, but do bear in mind you actually get, some could argue, a further 4 ‘courses’ if you count the olives and bread, amuse-bouche, palate cleansers and coffee ! All 4 of us left at the end feeling full and contented.
So, perusing the menu, you must note that from this point on you need to trust your senses and take some of the menu descriptions with a pinch of salt. I can’t imagine 21212 being a gastronomic delight for picky eaters, or for the ‘meat and 2 veg’ brigade, so don’t expect a safe menu.
Juicy tasty olives and some homemade bread were presented as we settled into the surroundings. I see some comment has been made previously about the bread on these reviews, but take no notice of these. If you want (for some strange cholesterol boosting or psychological reason) to have butter with it, I’m sure the staff would provide some! On the evening we dined it was lovely rich bread, with a little paprika dusting perhaps?, that had us searching to guess the other tasty ingredients.
Next, the layered tomato gazpacho amuse-bouche was served in an espresso mug and housed separate tasty layers, including a powerful tomato layer and a few grains of rice to add texture and bite.
I then had the warm venison, chicken, smoked duck and sausage salad. Probably some of the most succulent cubes of meat I have ever tasted. Slow cooked at low temperature meant the meat retained its full flavour and moisture. Every mouthful generated an involuntary nod of approval. My wife opted for the ‘risotto’, expecting a rice based dish, but there were only a few token grains of rice in the dish, so don’t be fooled! Some intense vegetable flavours by all accounts to accompany the creamy broth which made the dish interesting, it just wasn’t a risotto. The other 2 friends had the jumbo prawn dish, which was a tasty seafood medley I’m told, but take the word ‘jumbo’ with a pinch of salt too.
The soup was a spiced butternut squash and was served as a decent portion size. It was apparent that each of our 4 dishes had been given equal attention, each containing the same scale and portion of broccoli florets, mushroom cubes etc. There were unknown elements to the dish too, which had us guessing and conversing about what they were, a brilliant soup. The attention to detail was to be applauded. One slight critical comment was that the soup was accompanied by an apple (I think) ‘crisp’ or tuile. This was very sweet and sticky and if you ate this first (which I did) it overpowers your tastebuds and seriously hinders the taste of the soup for a while.
Next up for me and my wife was a pork fillet dish and just like my starter the meat had been cooked to perfection. The waitress even ensured beforehand that my wife was happy to eat the pork, given that it was served ‘pink’. Given the cooking techniques this was not a problem. Small tasty chunks of black, white, haggis and pease pudding accompanied the meat and these were all in their own right delightful. A strange choice to have a pasta side dish with this plate and, for me, I’m not sure it married with the meat and puddings in any way, but it was a tasty and well executed accompaniment.
The cheese course was next and we were gob-smacked when 12 or more different cheeses were presented on a platter, supplemented with a large basket of crackers, breads and oatcakes, many of which were homemade. I was so impressed that the waitress talked us through every one of the cheeses and even pointed out which ones were pasturised, so my wife could eat them. The 4 of us took a good half an hour to sample our way through this course, brilliant. Oh, the glass of port perhaps helped with the taste sensation too!
The next ‘course’ was a bit of fun (lighten up all of those reviewers who mocked this performance!). Cleansing the palate prior to the dessert was an oat infused milk drink. This was poured from a china cow into a small paper cup. Yes, perhaps a bit tacky, perhaps a bit unnecessary … but a bit of fun, a talking point, adding a certain uniqueness and eccentricity to the dining experience.
I never had space to do a dessert justice, but the others in my group ensured me that the desserts were top quality. The glazed lemon curd tart was perhaps a bit ‘loose’ from my visual observation, but by all accounts was incredibly tasty. We were all full and contented at the end, and an occasion I hope to be able to do again once I save my pennies.
I must say that the waiting staff were great and were knowledgeable about each of the dishes (perhaps one of the waitresses was the owner too? as she had a great presence and knowledge). They also paid every attention to the dietary requirements of my pregnant wife.
In all, a great gastronomic delight that I have been talking about ever since we visited. Expensive, yes (for most people I’d think), but we did have 9 ‘courses’ and a unique experience. So, if you like your food, enjoy tasting new things, love chatting with your fellow diners about tastes and flavours and want to treat yourself, go for it !
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.