Thursday, 10 December 2009

LUNCH REVIEW: Illegal Jack's South West Grill

Fast, fresh, convenient

A south west grill is a familiar concept to this American. Places like Chipotle and Moe's are among the favorites in the States serving up fast but fresh Tex Mex, with specific pride placed on a variety of salsas and the ability to walk away with a giant meal for a tiny price.

This is a brand new concept to Edinburgh, and to my knowledge, Scotland. 'Jack' and company realised a potential for a south west grill within a city that can be barren of places to actually sit in and have a large, impressive meal for under six or so quid; and so, Illegal Jack's is born.

It has completely taken over the old and uninspiring home of Pizza Hut on Lothian Road after a mind-boggling transformation requiring unfathomable amounts of love and patience for a result so tremendous. Gone are the manky walls and aroma of stale dough, replaced now with clean, white walls, gorgeous oak furniture throughout and far more inviting scents emanating from the completely re-fitted kitchen.

On my first of, inevitably, many visits, I go for the tacos (£5.25), a portion of three corn tortilla shells and the option to fill them with any variety chicken, beef or sauteed vegetables. I try one of each, and top each one with three different salsas, cheese and a side of, apparently, one hour fresh guacamole.

Although the shells could have been crispier, the contents made it more forgiving. Everything is marinated with chipotle peppers for 24 hours, rendering a smokiness, however, discernibly different flavour within each filling. The salsas are obviously fresh, with hotness ranging as mild, sweet (roasted) and super hot. For real fire lovers, there's plenty of Louisiana Hot Sauce on-hand too - a brand they believe is more excellent than the many they sampled during a search for the perfect complementary sauce.

Also on the menu are fajitas, chili bowls, salad bowls, nachos, quesadillas and, the next item on my agenda, burritos. I got a glimpse of the latter, and they are truly served in American-sized portions and come with instructions to 1. Put back the fork and knife. You won't need it; and 2. Grab the burrito with both hands.

It should be noted that there's no booze served at all, so come only with an appetite for lots of rather great examples of American South West flavour. (K. Smith)

-113 Lothian Road
-EH3 9AN

Mon-Thurs 12-8pm
Fri-Sat 12-9pm
Sun 12-8pm

Also in the January 2010 issue of Bite Magazine


AC said...

Thanks for your kind words Kelly! Point re tacos noted, will investigate. Also, we are now open til 9 Sun-Thurs and 10 Fri and Sat. Hope you see you again soon. Best,

- Jack.

Anonymous said...

I have just visited Illegal Jacks in Edinburgh, my eye having been caught by the bright, modern "cool" design of the place. Unfortunately the food was a big disapointment - much like one gets at McDonalds where the photos of the food bear no resemblance to the cold soggy burgers they actualy serve up. Yes, Illegal Jacks has " warming trays " of pre-prepared beef, chicken, re- fried beans etc, which means that it was far from hot by the time they actually placed in in my Tacos. Aside from the less-than-hot fillings, the Taco shells themselves tasted like soggy cardboard, and had a similar consistency. This led to them falling to pieces in less than 10 minutes - halfway through eating my second Taco. Overall it's a nice concept, but shame about the food.

Matt said...

You've made me hungry.