January 19, 2015 local produce, New Town 9 Comments

Blood orange, cumquat, pomegranate, tarragon

Blood orange, cumquat, pomegranate, tarragon

We’ve had a bit of chequered past with Iglu. The review we published, back in 2013, was the summation of two rather unfortunate visits. It was a post over which both MJ and I agonised, because it was very clear that we’d picked two of the restaurants more difficult days for our visits. The place has gone through some changes, since then, so we were interested to check out its latest incarnation.

The Scratch Series brings together the talents of chefs David Crabtree-Logan and Ben Reade. They took over Iglu’s upstairs restaurant space in December 2014, with a planned four month tenure.

Parfait, aebleskiver, sourdough

Parfait, aebleskiver, sourdough

Having worked together in Edinburgh restaurants, before jetting off to worldwide food adventures, the chefs have seized the opportunity, upon returning to their home town, to dazzle Edinburgh diners with some culinary pyrotechnics from the local larder.

Roots, leeks, broth

Roots, leeks, broth

I was joined on this adventure by Rachel, who’d quested before at Clerk’s Bar and Reverie, and Caz, who was questing for the first time.

Once Ben, who took the lead in charmingly diffident front-of-house banter, had welcomed us to the dining table, the tone was set by a firecracker first course of blood orange, salt cured cumquat, pomegranate seeds and tarragon. As a palette livener it was first rate, with the tarragon beautifully balancing the zingy fruitiness.

Aebleskiver (a sort of puffed pancake bun) encasing tea-smoked prunes served with duck liver parfait was up next. The buns were incredibly moreish and the excellent accompanying einkorn and malt sourdough came in very handy for indulging in further spoonfuls of the deliciously rich pate.

Freekeh, bacon jam, kamut

Freekeh, bacon jam, kamut

Elegance was the watchword of the next course. Yacon salsa, raw mashua, sunflower seeds, Jerusalem artichoke and leeks were topped with a clear and flavour-packed dashi broth. It was another outstanding dish.

The next course was all about riotous textures, with bacon jam on a freekeh porridge, then oodles of toasted crunch provided by puffed kamut. The little leaves of red-veined sorrel were the cherry on top of a dish of which I could have eaten about a hundredweight.

Duck, beetroot, flowering sprout

Duck, beetroot, flowering sprout

The main course of roast widgeon with three types of beetroot and a marvellous kale/sprout hybrid called flowering sprout was beautifully cooked and reflected careful crafting.

Honeycomb, crowdie, oatcakes

Honeycomb, crowdie, oatcakes

The theatre was upped even further with the arrival of Chain Bridge heather honey fresh from the frame. This was served with crowdie and oatcakes made by Ben and David’s own fair hands.

Celeriac for dessert? What madness is this! The apple braised celeriac with Kentish walnuts and celery custard was absolutely triumphant. I want all my desserts to have celeriac in them, in the future.

Apple, celeriac, walnuts, custard

Apple, celeriac, walnuts, custard

Things were rounded out by outstanding petits fours, with the pumpkin tuiles just gorgeous.

This was a lot to take in, in so many ways. The restrained and measured craftsmanship on show was a joy to behold. Virtually every dish brought me a new ingredient, a new flavour combination, a new texture, a fresh idea about sourcing, or all of the above.

Petits fours

Petits fours

The evening was warm, welcoming, relaxed and inclusive, with the atmosphere of collective dining very nicely judged. The entire event was imbued with masterful cooking and an infectious commitment to showcasing local produce, resulting in the creation of some truly memorable dishes.

Scratch Series runs every Thursday-Saturday at 7pm from now until the end of March. I’d strongly recommend you visit, and if you happen to be looking for a dining companion for the evening, I’d gladly do the honours.

Today’s questers were: Caz, Rachel, Blythe

We ate: all of the above

We drank: cabernet franc, water, coffees, whisky

We wore: spectacles (2), burger socks

Total bill: £166

5 stars 2

Written by BKR