It has been quite a couple of weeks for Iglu. They were awarded their third SRA star, then voted the second best restaurant in the UK, behind only River Cottage, in terms of their ethical approach to sourcing, at the SRA annual awards. To celebrate this success, they parted company with their chef, Matthew Waters, two days later.
I have no particular taste for getting in the middle of employment decisions made by restaurants, but this did all seem a little strange.
In all of this, I’d booked for lunch, today. I was left with a bit of a dilemma, which relates to my previous visit. A few months back, I was here for dinner and things did not go well. With their already well-established reputation for local sourcing, I thought
it best to contact the restaurant with feedback, rather than publish what would have amounted to a damning review.
The management and chef Matt were both excellent in their responses. Matt had been ill that evening, so less experienced hands were at work in the kitchen, and from a management perspective they were in the process of transitioning between
using the downstairs for the dual purpose of bar and restaurant, and focussing it more on the restaurant aspect. I was happy with how things were handled, and agreed that I would pop back in a couple of months.
For Iglu, my “immaculate timing” sadly struck again, as on my visit today, for the new chef’s first lunch service, everything was completely mediocre.
It gave me another headache: did I go with comments to the restaurant again, then commit to a third visit? Or did I simply review it as I would any other place? The second was probably unachievable, for all of the reasons set out above, and frankly
we have neither the time nor the money to visit everywhere three times (much as we’d like to, with some places) before reaching a verdict. So, with the heavy caveat that I’ve visited the place on probably their two worst days of the year, here goes.
I was joined on today’s quest by Kim, who had most recently joined me at the excellent Brasserie de Luxe.
Upon arrival, their upstairs restaurant was closed, so we were seated in the downstairs bar area, next to the window. We were promptly brought menus and water, and left to contemplate things.
In this time of transition, they’ve kept things simple, running the same menu all day, with 20% off at lunchtimes (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) and early evening. From the selection of two soups of the day, I opted for potato and leek over lentil and root vegetable. Kim started with salmon mousse. For main, Kim opted for the root vegetable curry, while I chose the venison haunch steak.
Starters arrived and looked good. I tried a little of the salmon mousse and it was pretty fair. The soup was a solidly routine leek and potato, with good texture, but not mountains of flavour.
Main courses soon followed. I wasn’t too taken by the look of either of them. My dish featured a gargantuan amount of beetroot, carrots and potatoes, all cooked together, so by sight they all looked like chunks of beetroot. The piece of venison was somewhat lost in the picture, by comparison. The dish looked hearty, but extremely inelegant.
For my tastes, the venison was overdone. It was dry and lacking in flavour. The liquor from the beetroot haché brought moisture to the dish, but it didn’t quite operate as an effective sauce for the meat. The dish didn’t work for me.
To write a review that cautions you against going to a restaurant with such excellent sourcing principles would be irresponsible of me, so I won’t do that. Please go, as the ecosystem of excellent providers that they have around the restaurant is spectacular, and you should go and bask in their glory. This is precisely the kind of place that I want to champion, that I want you to be able to enjoy, and that I want to be able to enjoy, myself.
When you go, I sincerely hope you have a better time than I did across my two visits. Based on my experiences, you could be served practically anything in terms of quality and execution.
Blythe scores Iglu
2.5/5 for food
3/5 for presentation
3/5 for setting
3/5 for service
giving an overall 11.5/20
Today’s questers were: Kim, Blythe
We ate: potato and leek soup; salmon mousse; venison haunch steak; vegetable
We drank: water, espresso
We wore: pink sweater; grey shirt
Total bill: £32.60