Restaurant review: Iglu, Edinburgh

Iglu, Edinburgh. Picture: Ian Rutherford

Iglu, Edinburgh. Picture: Ian Rutherford

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This is how it usually works. I hear about a new restaurant, menu or chef, ask the Boss (not Bruce Springsteen, my ACTUAL employer) if I can review that particular place, then she says yes/no/rub my feet minion.

2B Jamaica Street, Edinburgh

(0131-476 5333, www.theiglu.com)

However, Weekend Life’s editor is currently on holiday, so I can run amok and visit whatever darn place I want.

Eeny, meeny, miny – I fancy a visit to Iglu – moe.

That’s for no particular reason, apart from the fact that this laudably ethical and organic eatery was recently awarded three stars from the Sustainable Restaurant Association, and I like the building, which is as blocky as a Monopoly hotel.

There are two decks and we were on the bottom level, with bare stone walls, mismatched farmhouse chairs, a wooden bar (where a pair of post-work regulars, with their John Lewis name badges still attached, took up ritualistic residence for the evening, eating mussels and sipping beer), and shelves of organic goodies and blobbily-shaped pieces of pottery for sale.

It’s characterful and ramshackle, which belies the posh-ness of some of the New Town clientèle, who were mainly in suits or ironed jeans, wearing expensive sunglasses as hair-bands, and talking loudly about their holiday in South America.

From a choice of five starters, we went for heritage tomato, rocket and bonnet goats cheese tart (£5) and Grierson Farm chicken liver, pigeon and thyme terrine (£6).

The former – a yellow wedge that was scattered with herby confetti – looked winsome, but was unexpectedly bitter, eggy and underseasoned, with a floury-flavoured and dank pastry. The best bit was the green-tasting pesto on the side.

Our other option was better, though rustic rather than pretty. In fact, it vaguely resembled the head section of Damien Hirst’s Mother and Child Divided, with layers of grey-brown meat interspersed by whole livers and swaddled by smoked bacon bandages.

It tasted decent though – salty and very garlicky, with three oatcakes on the side from the Engine Shed (a good Edinburgh business, which provides employment for those with learning difficulties). However, something sweet – a chutney or relish – was the obvious omission.

If starters left us feeling a bit flat, mains rekindled our hopes.

The Peelham Farm lamb leg steak (£13) was an absolute beaut – pink and bouncy, with a seared chilli and cumin-covered crust. Gorgeous.

It came with a pale green potato dauphinoise that was fragrant with thyme, and a lively salad that featured nibs of Isle of Wight heritage tomatoes at the peak of their sugary ripeness, as well as sunset-coloured nasturtium flower petals and springy, peppery leaves.

Our other course – organic pan-roasted chicken (£15) – was also simple, yet sparklingly good. The poultry skin was crisp, sweet and herby, with tons of slippery, buttery and minty new potatoes on the side, as well as some more of that green salad.

Every scrap tasted vibrant, as if it was freshly dug, snipped, hoed or tweezered out of a garden.

Puddings were, sadly, a bit of a return to the form of the starters.

My profiteroles (£5), which were drizzled with melted choco from local business, the Chocolate Tree, were more like a pair of cream puffs. They kind of lacked any sense of luxury, with dry choux shells and hearts of squirty cream.

Same goes for the rhubarb fool (£5) – which featured a small pot containing wersh chunks of rhubarb that were drowned in single cream.

Still this poor fool was redeemed by its more intellectual buddies – a decent meringue, topped with more rhubarb, as well as some stewed strands of “rhubarb spaghetti”.

Not too bad, but I don’t think I’ve ever visited a place where there’s such disparity between the starters/puddings and the main courses. At least the latter were worth spending my emancipation on.

The verdict

How much? Dinner for two, excluding drinks - £49

Food 6.5/10

Ambience 7/10

Total 13.5/20

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