Postcard from Edinburgh
Edinburgh now boasts more Michelin stars than any UK city apart from London. And our meal at 21212 deserves every spike of its sparkler - it's a humorous and clever romp without losing sight of deliciousness: plates look like elaborate puzzles, ingredients deliver snort-making surprises like parchment made from mushrooms, or smoked salmon with fingernail-sized buttered crumpets, all in a room that looks like Shrek's pulling parlour. But a surprise highlight of our trip is a modest one. Haymarket's frantic, rackety Chop Chop (chop-chop.co.uk) serves some of the best dumplings I've tasted outside Hong Kong. Jiao zi, chewy little boiled numbers; guo tie, potstickers of a violently addictive nature, especially the beef and chilli; even peanut dumplings for pudding.
Edinburgh can be as deluxe or as grungy as you want it to be - designer food in soigné surroundings or a surprise thrill in a clattery canteen. Not to mention the frisson of the, erm, unexpected. But rediscovering its severe beauty is the biggest thrill of all.
Marina O'Loughlin, London newspaper Metro's restaurant critic, has remained incognito for the past 11 years. She regularly travels the UK and abroad in search of culinary adventure.