By Andra Kunstberga.
Our favorite meal so far this year was at this pretty restaurant in the Old Town, its décor resembling a Swiss cottage, steep wooden stairs leading to ever more serene rooms and mezzanines – and even a tiny rooftop in summer. It’s not a new place but it’s been so long since we were last here that it seems virtually brand new to us.
Experienced, artistic and highly individual chef Robert Smilga adds a personal flourish to every dish on the menu. If he notices that another eatery has stolen one of his ideas, he immediately takes it out and replaces it with another still more incomparable twist. He imagines the combination of tastes before trying them out. He’s not a fan of molecular cuisine, but he does keep the natural essence of his dishes’ ingredients.
We enjoyed an amazing plate of fried tiger shrimps (€15) doused with the sharp-sweet taste of quince vinaigrette, the soft, creamy texture of Brillat-Savarin cheese and lots of tiny, savory balsamic pearls. We followed with a sticky, lusciously soft, deeply meaty heap of veal tails (€16), stewed in red wine and sliding easily off the bone, served with balsamico-glazed onions and crispy slices of violet Vitelotte potatoes.
Other unusual dishes at 1221 include ragout of beaver meat marinated in champagne with pineapple and goat-cheese Tortellini, and horse fillet steak served with pancakes made from a type of grain that horses love to eat. Robert evidently likes adding an occasional soupcon of humor to his creations.