I’m conscious that our pattern of reviews, as neatly illustrated by the map on our front page, shows that our wingspan isn’t the broadest, and we do tend to focus upon city centre places. That’s largely due to where I work, and my ability/willingness to stray beyond ten or twenty minutes walk from my office, at lunchtime.
So, when the evening takes me to spots that are inaccessible to my lunchtime endeavours, I’m very keen to explore what’s on offer.
Our previous visits to the Bruntsfield area have been a bit hit and miss. We loved Ristorante Ferrari, but it soon closed. Our visit to Leven’s was decidedly ordinary. Then again, Three Birds was a complete joy.
Inca is a place that we’ve noticed on our travels, nestled as it is next door to the much esteemed Falko Konditormeister.
An Italian restaurant called Inca? That seemed an interesting notion. As it turned out, that was barely the start of the intrigue. The gaffer, a delightfully engaging man named Homayoun, is Persian. So, to summarise: Italian food; South American name; Persian at the helm.
In terms of the menu, it has a very familiar feel. Lots of choice (too much?), with pizza, pasta, kebab, steak, fish, chicken, veal. Wait a minute; run that by me again. Kebab? Ah, so this is where the Persian influence comes in. That one of the dishes was called Inca Kebab led me to suspect that we were in signature dish territory. And so it proved.
But we have starters to account for, first. I often write about a) my love of melanzane; and b) its lava like qualities. So it came as no surprise (indeed MJ predicted it from the other side of town) that I ordered their Melanzane Siciliana. The roof of my mouth can attest to its lavaness. It had the added interest of a seafood element, with anchovies in the ragu. It was a good dish.
For main, I went with my “signature dish” instincts and ordered the kebab, and I was richly rewarded. With king prawn, chicken and lamb elements, the owner did slightly throw down the challenge to me in terms of “if you’re still hungry after that…” and with good cause. It was a surf and turf feast of considerable proportions. The prawns had an excellent barbecued char to them. The chicken was well-seasoned, and the lamb full of juicy flavour.
Homayoun had suggested I was being something of a heretic in choosing chips over their saffron rice, as an accompaniment, and he was probably right.
Good espresso rounded things out, and I was left to ponder an evening of considerable joy, that took the notion of “fusion food”, toyed with it, rejected it as a concept, and danced its own merry dance.
The long and the short of it is that Inca serves good quality dishes. The cornerstone of its business is returning custom, many of whom book in large group numbers, taking advantage of the large downstairs seating area (of the twenty odd they can be accommodated upstairs, double can be seated downstairs), and I can appreciate how the place has engendered this level of loyalty. Their signature kebab dish is an absolute winner.
There’s rarely a meal goes by when I don’t miss having MJ sitting across the table from me, but her combined love of Italian food and skewer-cooked meats meant that her absence this evening was most acutely felt.
The place has sustained itself nicely for the past fifteen years, without too many people noticing it. Let’s hope that in the next wee while, it can build upon its existing following and start to attract further acolytes. It deserves to have more people crossing its threshold and sampling its considerable charms.
Blythe scores Inca
3.5/5 for food
3.5/5 for presentation
4/5 for service
3/5 for setting
giving an overall 14/20
Today’s quester was: Blythe
I ate: melanzane Siciliana; Inca kebab
I drank: peroni, espresso
I wore: www.tieclub.co.uk tie
Total bill: £29