With Anna on holiday recently, I spent the first few days twiddling my thumbs. Not as in being lost and not knowing what I was doing with myself. With no female presence in the house, I was free to unleash the gamer in me and battle the various forces of evil which transpired against me.
At the start of the week, Anna’s mother asked if I would like to join her and Judy, Anna’s sister, for lunch. She also included the magic words “my treat”. I would have gone anyway, that just sold the idea.
On Wednesday morning, they text me the destination and I was pleasantly surprised. We were heading to Indigo Yard in Edinburgh. I have been here before and I was incredibly pleased with my meal the last time.
Indigo Yard is one of those places which is easy to find… once you know where it is. Having only been the once, I was not 100% sure of the direction as I’m not a homing pigeon. So I threw on the Maps on my phones and set off in the general direction.
Unfortunately, my phone decided to go into “bloke mode” while it acquired a signal.
If you don’t know what “bloke mode” is, it’s that thing us guys do where we don’t really know where we’re going but we just point at things and make noises like we do until we see something we recognise. My phone did this and set me on a 10 minute walk away from Indigo Yard.
Eventually, it got its act together and took to the actual place I wanted to go to.
It’s down a cobbled back alley, which isn’t seedy (don’t worry) and there are a few bars and restaurants around it. In retrospect, it’s remarkably easy to find. Once again, when you know the way.
It was an absolutely wonderful day to go for some food. It was the kind of hot that comes with a breeze so you don’t mind walking around for a bit but there isn’t a strong enough zephyr to make you regret sitting outside. So when I found my dining companions sat on the outdoor seating area, under the parasols, I was delighted.
We ordered a couple of drinks and chatted for a short while before the delightfully attentive waitress came over to inform me that Blue Moon wasn’t available. After a quick look at the beer menu, I opted for one called Volcan Wolf. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know my feelings about that particular beer.
Unfortunately, this was also unavailable. Which was fair. It’s a once in a lifetime beer so when it’s gone, it’s gone.
Feeling slightly exasperated by this point, I just asked for any wheat beer available. Which turned out to be a wonderful success. The waitress brought over a stein of, what turned out to be called, Gentlemen’s Wit. A delightfully lemony Belgian wheat beer from Camden Town Brewery. It was exactly what I actually wanted, despite having to go round the houses to find it.
Then we took a look at the menu.
The thing you need to know about Indigo Yard is that they have a menu selection of 2 for £10 dishes. Which makes them the perfect place to drop by for a quick lunch. The selection is quite varied and they have regular specials, you just need to ask the staff what they are if you’re sat outside.
Any time I go out for pub food, 90% of the time, I opt for the burger. This is for 2 reasons:
- It’s easy. I’m wondrously impatient and get bored reading through a menu
- It’s a great barometer. A lot of places think that just throwing a burger in the customer’s general direction is enough. Even if it’s “just a burger”, there’s no such thing as “just a burger”
Having already tried, and enjoyed, the burger on a previous visit, I decided to go off script. I asked about the special and knew that was what I wanted as soon as she mentioned the word “chicken”. What can I say? Sometimes you just want chicken…
It was absolutely wonderful. The chicken was well grilled and came with new potatoes, green beans and a really delicious, creamy tarragon sauce. I’m glad I took a chance on it and if it makes it onto the menu, I will be ordering it again.
Anna’s mother, Jacqui, ordered the salmon salad. It looked nice… I don’t think we’re at the “sharing food” part of our familial relationship yet. Unless it’s chips. They’re all fine with sharing chips.
Anna’s sister, Judy, had the burger. I didn’t take a picture of it because, at this point, I was being that annoying dinner guest who has to take photos of everything. I did, however, take a picture of the halloumi salad we got to share. It’s 2 for £10… it would have been illogical not to.
It was incredible. Just the right balance of a sour, creamy sauce which contrasted with the salty meatiness of the grilled cheese. There were chunks of… I want to say swede? With cherry tomatoes and other salad type things. Were I not so hungry, I probably would have ordered that for my meal.
The food was fresh and vibrant, the weather was warm and crisp. My lemony beer went perfectly with the creamy chicken. All in all, it was a resounding success. I took some pictures, put the camera away when Jacqui pointed out how irritating I was being and we had a good chat.
In the right weather, Indigo Yard is the sort of place you can sit outside all day and barely even notice the time passing you by. With the cobbled street in front of you, the foot flow is minimal so you don’t feel like time is moving. The staff were friendly without being pushy or too in your face. The only thing I hate more than constantly having to find your server is when they’re just there all the time. Like all up in your grill.
You know the waiting staff who seem to… wait… damn it… anyway, they seem to wait until the moment you have a mouthful of food to come over and ask if everything is OK? What do they expect? If there is a problem, you’re going to have to stand there looking awkward while I rush to swallow my food. Then I’m more annoyed because I probably swallow it too quickly and end up choking on it. A situation which could easily be avoided if you just timed your drop ins a little better.
Well, there was none of that at Indigo Yard, they timed their questions perfectly.
After we had finished our meals, we decided it would be a waste of good weather to leave straight away, so we opted to get another drink. And this leads me to the second aspect of a wonderful visit. Good bar service.
Because of the kerfuffle with my previous drink, I politely told the young lady that I would go up to the bar and take a look myself in order to make a decision. As I was looking at the pumps, an interested barman came and asked me what I was looking for. After umming and aahing about my choice, he pointed out that, if I wasn’t sure, he was happy for me to have a taste.
After tasting a couple, he suggested one for me. He looked like he knew what he was talking about so I went with it. That turned out to be a very good choice.
He suggested an IPA from Franciscan Well, a brewery based in Cork. It was much deeper than your usual IPA but the fruit and depth seemed to really work in the heat. It was a damn fine choice and I’m a sucker for decent glassware, so it scored extra points from me.
The whole lunch was a delightful affair, even the company wasn’t too bad (looking at you, Judy).
When the bill came, along came with the 3rd and final push for me to write this blog. Our waitress brought over our very modest bill (for 4 meals and drinks for 3) and informed us that, because there was such a rigmarole getting my first drink, they took it off the bill.
I was genuinely touched. It wasn’t the free beer that got to me, it was the spirit and customer service behind it. I’m a fairly patient person when it comes to waiting staff and I’d not kicked up a fuss or demanded it to be free. Indigo Yard had simply seen that it would have marred an otherwise perfect meal and took it upon themselves to correct it. It was a great touch and was greatly appreciated.
So, if you’re in Edinburgh at any point and need to find somewhere off the beaten path (but no too far) with great beer, delicious food and wonderful staff… you know you’re heading to Indigo Yard.
Here’s the address, so you can see how right I am:
7 Charlotte Ln, Edinburgh EH2 4QZ