Nira Caledonia translates roughly to ‘Pure Scotland’ in Latin. Set in the new town district of Edinburgh in a classic Georgian building, this hotel is a stylish retreat a world apart from other Scottish hotels.
Advertising “No tartan. No stuffed deer heads. No prints of Bonnie Prince Charlie,” Nira Caledonia is a boutique hotel that goes against the grain, blending chic design elements with luxurious comfort. With rich textures, fancy wallpapers, and metallic highlights throughout, this hotel is a stylish find that also happens to offer a world-class restaurant filled with delicious specialties from Chef David Scott’s inventive hands.
Gourmet Cuisine at Blackwood’s Bar & Grill
The philosophy here revolves around using the best Scottish ingredients and letting them shine. Take the restaurant’s “Shetland mussels” starter. The mussels are cooked in the restaurant’s Josper Chargrill Oven in a broth of white wine and chillies. Highlighting the pure taste of each ingredient, the result is melt-in your mouth texture accentuated by rich broth that bursts with flavors derived from seeping the mussels in their own subtle juices. As if the seafood wasn’t heavenly enough, the “fillet steak with green peppercorn and Edinburgh ‘Glenkinchie’ whisky sauce” (a single malt whisky distillery in East Lothian, Scotland) is in a class of its own, generously salted and prickling with flavor from the peppercorns.
However, it isn’t just the main courses that pack a powerhouse punch. The organically farmed salads are extraordinarily fresh and simple and the cheese platters are filled with perfectly complimentary cheeses that range from creamy, buttery Scottish favorites encrusted in nuts to stinky soft cheeses with a tangy bite.
Finally, my recommendation to everyone dining here is to try Blackwood’s “Edinburgh old fashioned” cocktail, reason enough to stop by. (This is hands-down the best Old Fashioned I’ve ever had.) It’s made with independent bottler Robbie Douglas’ single grain 21-year-old Scotch whiskey and has a wonderful vanilla aroma with a pinch of sweetness and spice.
Blackwood’s is truly a hidden gem on the Edinburgh culinary scene with a visionary chef cooking up sophisticated creations using simple ingredients that celebrate flavor without a hint of pretentiousness.
21212 Restaurant & Hotel
Staying at 21212 Hotel means you will eat well. This hotel and restaurant of the same name make up an intimate bed and breakfast with just 4 rooms and one award-winning restaurant serving up modern Scottish fare influenced by contemporary French cooking. The name 21212 mirrors the restaurant’s signature 5-course menu, which when read in order describes the number of selections per course. The tasting menu changes weekly, and although you can only order the fixed menu at 21212, its dynamic enough that you won’t mind the limited choices one bit.
21212 sits at the base of Edinburgh’s picturesque Calton Hill, which has sweeping views of the city and the ocean. Located in a restored Georgian townhouse which has retained many classic period features, the rooms are bright, airy, and individually decorated. There’s also a stylish drawing room featuring butterfly print carpet, table sculptures, and furniture with plush textures and patterns.
The Art of Food at 21212
The restaurant at 21212 is equally beautiful and features an open kitchen right in the room where you can watch 7 chefs perform their magic led by Michelin-star chef Paul Kitching and his partner Katie O'Brien. The cuisine is light and modern, with fish and meat dishes slow-cooked, resulting in extremely juicy, succulent courses.
Each dish at 21212 is exquisitely presented. Aesthetic elements like whipped foam sauces and slices of paper-thin dehydrated food are incorporated creatively into each dish. Under Chef Kitching’s direction, ingredients are transformed into sculptural forms with enough color harmony they could have been pulled straight out of a painting. Most of the courses are accompanied by perfectly paired side dishes that are stunning enough to be mains in themselves.
Another treat at 21212 is the contemporary dish-ware, each works of art. My favorite was a white ceramic cow sanding on a red glass plate. The cow was filled with a refreshing palate cleanser of milk infused with porridge oats, which was poured straight out of the cow’s mouth. If you’re looking for a creative meal unlike anything else in the city, 21212 is the place to be.