• The List
  • 30 April 2009

Edinburgh’s reputation as a city for top-end dining will swell when Paul Kitching’s restaurant opens in May. Donald Reid talks to the capital’s latest arrivals

Next month, chef Paul Kitching and his partner Katie O’Brien complete their move from Juniper, Manchester’s only Michelin-starred restaurant, to a full townhouse on Royal Terrace on Edinburgh’s Calton Hill. A £4m project, this 38-cover restaurant – plus three bedrooms – will open under the name 21212 – a description of the choices available at each of the five courses on the evening menu: two starters, two main courses and two desserts with single ‘taster dishes’ in between.

Their decision to leave Juniper aroused the curiosity of many commentators who had admired Kitching as one of the country’s more creative and original chefs. What surprised most of them was their decision to come to Edinburgh. The couple, however, had long admired the city’s dining culture and its capacity to support four Michelin-starred restaurants.‘People assumed I was dragging Paul up to Scotland,’ says O’Brien, who grew up in northeast Scotland. ‘But being from Newcastle, Paul was probably more familiar with Edinburgh than I was.’

They moved up last August to plan, design and set up the restaurant. It will incorporate a number of features that flow from Kitching’s instinctive creativity, such as a glass pass that separates dining area from the open kitchen allowing light to travel from one side of the Georgian townhouse to the other. His approach to cooking is left-field but, despite his history of odd-ball dishes such as Branston pickle ice-cream and beef with lemon curd, he’s not a molecular gastronomist like Heston Blumenthal, nor the kind of chef who pulls on wellington boots to view cattle in a field.

‘There are two things cooking is definitely not,’ says Kitching, dispelling expectations of celebrity chefdom. ‘Cooking is not art and it’s not passionate. Cooking is a horrible job and it’s a tough job. We’ve got to think about it a different way. We’re compiling things, we’re building things, making things. We’re not artists. We’re tradesmen, trained as cooks.’

The location of Juniper encouraged an approach he now regards as ‘gimmicky’. ‘We had to put things on the plate to say, “We know it’s not the best restaurant in the world, it’s a shop-front conversion, but look what we’re doing as well.” Here, we don’t have to try as hard in that way.’

Instead, he believes Edinburgh will inspire him to reach even higher. ‘It will be my style of cooking, but it won’t be Juniper’s food, it will be Edinburgh’s food,’ he says. ‘The food has to be better than it was at Juniper, because that was just not good enough. It will be a more sophisticated version.’ Yet, as much as Edinburgh is excited by what 21212 will bring, it’s Kitching himself who seems most enthralled of all. ‘To be part of this city, to serve it – wow, it’s a great, great feeling.’

21212 opens Wed 20 May.

3 Royal Terrace, Edinburgh
Bookings on 0845 2221212 for lunch and dinner Tue–Sat.
Five-course dinner £60.


3 Royal Terrace, Edinburgh, EH7 5AB

Michelin-starred restaurant with rooms, where chef Paul Kitching's unique creativity shines through in every bonkers dish.


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2. JCM2 Jul 2009, 10:47pm Report

Decor was delightful and luxurious beyond belief.
now for the food
Just dined at Paul Kitching new Restaurant at 3 Royal terrace Edinburgh and had a wonderful experience
1st course was Slow cooked black pudding with bacon cheese,fig and lots of other flavours DELIGHTFUL
2nd course onion soup with so many depth of flavours he can make a great plate of soup MORE PLEASE!
3nd course mouth watering lamb cooked to perfection melt in the mouth stuff ,with rice parsnip and cherries to die for( where does he get them),
4th Cheese board to share ,just ate the lot.
5th and by no means last a trifle like I've never tasted before Blueberry rasperry with banana and walnuts.
any room for more yes just some coffee and home made truffels.
This Guy is talented , watch this space !!
We'll be back and will certainly recomend you to try for yourself

3. gerrit19 Jul 2009, 7:17pm Report

This restaurant is wierd and wonderful. You have to be ready for a new food experience! I have had only great food like this in the Fat Duck in Henley at their best days and can not wait to go back there as soon as possible.

I could become addicted to the trifle:)

4. B and J3 Aug 2009, 8:36am Report

Having been regular visitors to Paul and Katie's previous restaurant in Altrincham my wife and I were naturally keen to investigate their new venture in Edinburgh. I have been working in this great city for a while and am well aware of (and have sampled) the Michelin Star competition.

Apparently the name (which simply describes the structure of the menu) has caused a stir in some quarters. A novel idea, perhaps, to "do what it says on the tin" but this carries through every aspect of the branding (website, telephone number) and is either enigmatic or clever marketing depending on your point of view.

The setting and decor are magnficent and provide a suitably relaxing setting for the gastronomic delight to follow. For those who appreciate such things the attention to detail in the interior design of this renovation has to be seen to be appreciated.

The glass screen separating diners from the kitchen is an interesting feature but here's what's remarkable: don't expect the apparent chaos shouting and swearing that accompanies the prototypical TV offering. What you will get is a calm almost serene display of professionals paying close attention to the construction of complex and exciting dishes.

The raw materials are clearly high quality and the production team assembles wonderful and unusual combinations that appeal to all the senses in their colour, texture, and of course taste. The cooking and presentation achieve the highest standards and the service is attentive without being intrusive.

Our first visit was a memorable evening. For sure it won't be our last.

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