15 Jeffrey Street Edinburgh, Midlothian EH1 1DR
0131 557 8184
To say that the service in Igg’s is terrible would be like saying that Edinburgh’s tramworks are a wee bit delayed. In other words, a huge understatement. If you want to have the full experience of dining at Fawlty Towers without traveling to Torquay then book a table immediately.
Or if you’d rather read about one of my worst restaurant experiences to date, then read on.
It all started a few months ago. As usual my inbox was filling up with daily voucher deal offers, the same old spa treatments and so forth, when I noticed a half price offer for two courses at award winning Igg’s. Admittedly I’d never heard of the place. I’ve walked past sister restaurant BarRioja countless times and always wanted to pop in, so when I saw Igg’s website and menu I became quite excited. I bought the voucher as a treat for the Irishman and myself.
We arrived at Iggs about two minutes before our 8pm Friday reservation and we were greeted sweetly by the Maitre D; “you have the Itison voucher? You’re up next, sweetie, follow me!” Good start I thought, (I am a sucker for pet names) but sadly it was all downhill from there.
We were introduced to our waiter, who was a rather surly fellow. He told us he had a table in the corner, or we could sit at the window as there was a couple just getting ready to leave in the next ten minutes. He suggested we loiter over them but since it was pretty cramped already we didn’t really fancy that and just took the corner table. I guess this upset our man, because it was a full 10 minutes before the menu appeared and another 15 before we were brought bread and water.
Wine wasn’t included with the voucher, but we’re not complete tight-asses so we asked for a 25 quid bottle of white rioja. There was a £5oo bottle on there too but sadly we’re not that flush either. We ordered our food, Waiter scuttled off to the kitchen, and we got started on the bread and olives (since neither of us had eaten much all day cos we were so looking forward to dinner).
The tap water was a thankful addition to the table, as we were both pretty thirsty from the uncharacteristically hot weather. We were looking forward to the wine.
After around 15 minutes, our amuse bouche arrived; a Spanish soup with chickpea and chorizo. A nice addition as often group buying vouchers result in little bits like this being left out.
Our wine was nowhere to be seen, however.
I mentioned this to the other half, and said that I would ask the waitress when we finished our soup. When she arrived to clear our plates, I gave her my best apologetic smile and said “Excuse me, we ordered a bottle of wine, I’m just wondering…?” To her credit she was very apologetic and said she’d ask her colleague, aka our original waiter. I saw them have a bit of an exchange and the both just looked a bit bored and annoyed.
Another quarter of an hour with nothing to drink, and our man arrived with the starters; quail and lentils for me, veggies for the Irishman. Waiter must have read my mind, because as he walked away from our table he called dismissively over his shoulder “Your wine’s coming.” I felt really bad to put him to so much effort; I mean, ordering wine with my Friday night dinner and expecting the waiter to get it? Just who do I think I am, Mary Queen of Scots?
Anyway, the starter itself was tasty. The quail was rich and salty, with crisp skin. The lentils were seasoned perfectly although perhaps had a bit too much chilli for a lightweight like me. It’s a shame I had no wine to wash it down with, since we’d finished the tap water long ago.
The other half’s starter was a nice warm vegetable salad with asparagus, rocket, beetroot and artichokes. We can’t remember what the sauce was (oops) and Igg’s sadly don’t have an updated menu on their website, but it was garlicky and again the quality of the food was great and well seasoned fare.
About halfway through the starter, our waiter graciously deigned to bring us our wine without so much as a humble word of apology. I thought perhaps in Spain it was customary to wait until halfway through the starter before getting tucked into the booze, but when I suggested it to the other half (who has strong ties to the continent) he laughed and said no.
Luckily the wine was worth the wait. It was light, white, and simply danced on the tongue with a slight hint of sparkle which seems to be common in Spanish whites (I noticed it in Torres’s simply brilliant Vina Sol; a favourite of mine since discovering it during a wine tasting class).
Soon it was time to get stuck into our mains. Since we were drinking white wine (I’m on a right white rioja kick at the moment) we both went for fish; me for salmon, he for sea bass.
My main wasn’t as good as my starter, unfortunately. The best bit was the chargrilled courgette which had taken on a caramelised flavour. I felt that the salmon was slightly overcooked and the sauce was a bit unremarkable.
I tasted a bit of the boy’s sea bass, and that was a lot better. He says it was good, he felt that there was a lot of fish which I guess is good value, and more asparagus!
Once we’d finished the food, we obviously still had a lot of wine left as it arrived so late in the meal. Although our voucher only entitled us to two courses we decided to go all out and get a cheese board between us; we don’t mind paying for the extra.
Now this was a bit more like what I was expecting at E:S:I. A plate laden with delicious Spanish cheeses, fruit pastes, summer berries and salsa was placed in front of us. We weren’t told what any of the cheeses were but they all seemed to be variations on the theme of manchego. The blue was very blue. Sadly (very sadly) there were only about 5 tiny oatcakes for 8 or 9 huge slabs of cheese. It really annoys me that restaurants do that, surely giving us a few more crackers wouldn’t cost that much more?
Finally it was time to leave. After waiting a while, we were brought the bill. Despite the waiter mentioning about 40 times during the evening that we have an Itison voucher, and taking it from me as soon as i sat down, they tried to charge full price. We had to call him back. Of course we were obligated to pay the 10% service charge which is automatically added on for card payments.
I can only hope this charge goes towards customer service training for the rude, ignorant and indeed arrogant staff. Or at least some of it goes to the chef who is truly a star trying to shine through.
It’s not often I have such a strong reaction to a restaurant; especially one that serves such delicious food. I’ve done my time working in customer service so I can appreciate that staff can become justifiably ratty with problem customers, especially on busy nights. But we were quiet, polite, and didn’t step out of line.
The only issue I can think of is that we had a voucher. But I thought companies sign up to group buying sites to entice new customers, and hopefully build up a loyalty? After the way I’ve been treated I definitely won’t be going back and I’ll be telling my friends the same.
I guess the lesson here for restaurants is that if you’re going to treat voucher buyers like second class citizens, probably best not to offer vouchers in the first place.