Don’t be afraid to make Piggs of yourselves at new Edinburgh tapas bar - Liam Rudden
IT’S a magical escape just waiting to be discovered, an unexpected ray of sunshine in an often dreich Capital winter and a reminder of Mediterranean holidays past and those yet to come.
Near the top of the Cowgate, just before St Mary’s Street, you’ll find one of the Capital’s best kept secrets, Piggs Spanish Wine Bar and Cafe.
Bright, simply, yet thoughtfully furbished, it’s easy to overlook the latest venture from the Campos family - there’s a clue in the declaration on the menu that the business was established in 1989, which it was, only not here, but around the corner. That’s where, for more than two decades, Edinburgh’s tapas lovers hung out in Iggy Campos’ legendary Igg’s and the wine bar tapas joint, Barioja.
The new venture, led by Iggy’s son Daniel (pictured), marks the family’s return to what they do best, after a break of seven years. And when I say ‘best’, I mean best. Everything about Piggs is welcoming and top notch.
It was a dark, rainy evening when I stepped through the door with a mate, both desperately in need of a reminder of summer. In the cosy surroundings of the city’s newest tapas joint, the wet setts glistening outside on the Royal Mile soon became a distant memory as the kilted Daniel welcomed us. It was early, around 6pm, so we bagged the best seats in the house, by the window - ideal for people watching. However, it wasn’t long before many of those people joined us and in a short time the place was bustling.
The menu, a treasure trail of traditional tapas proved so tempting it was easier to let Daniel showcase its delights. First he served Jamon Croquetas, light and tasty they were the perfect companion to a pint of crisp draught Estrella Galicia - Daniel proudly revealing that while many city bars serve Estrella Damm, only Piggs sells Estrella Galicia. Good pint too.
Next, his dad’s speciality was a dish that showed sometimes it’s hard to beat the tried and tested classics. Iggy’s Tortilla Espanola will be familiar to regulars at Igg’s and is still to die for.
The Heuvos Rotos, deep fried crispy, crispy potatoes and a sausage-sized chorizo split down the middle on guard duty either side of a free range egg was spot on too. Then the Tomate con Anchoas arrived. Not a fan of anchovies, these from the Cantabrian Sea in the north of Spain, took me by surprise. In a good way.
Finally we were spoiled with a sharing platter - a mix of meat and cheeses bursting with flavours, including jamon reserva, chorizo, salchichon, lomo, cecina and morcilla and, cheese-wise, manchego, mahon, cabrarels, and ibores, with quince jelly. We admitted defeat mid-way through... but left just enough room to wash it all down with a glass of citrus-infused Valentia Gin, the bottle specially branded with the Spanish flag and Scottish saltire.
Appropriate really, as Piggs is a glorious little piece of Spain in the heart of the Capital.