BrewDog V Burritos
When the worlds of BrewDog and texmex collide...
Take a stroll up Edinburgh's Lothian Road and you'll find something to sate every vice, whether it's an arty, French flick at the Film House, an amp thumping gig at the Usher Hall or even a seedy whirl around one of a clutch of 'gentleman's' clubs, you could say the area has something of a reputation.
If burritos, nachos and craft beer are your weak point however, then you've also come to the right place or, to be more precise, you're best heading to Illegal Jack's. A beacon of non-conformity amidst swathes of franchised baguette bars and soulless 'metro' mini-marts, Illegal Jack's is fast, casual dining at its best and as we discovered when chatting to owner – the autonomous Jack Grills – once you've gone burrito you'll always go back.
A clean cut interior peppered with wooden benches and a melee of dinners clutching foil-wrapped Mexican fayre, Illegal Jack's doesn't just play host to some of the best texmex grub in the 'burgh but also to five of BrewDog's most popular bottled brews. Jack Grills wasn't shy on giving us the low down on how this match made in heaven came to be:
“When it comes to your typical Mexican restaurant most people would expect Corona. Illegal Jack's isn't about taking the conventional route or giving in to mainstream expectations. BrewDog's a brand with attitude and so are we which is why the beers are at home here. Our clientele are after something different and BrewDog offers that by the bucket load.”
Visit Illegal Jack's on any Friday lunchtime and it's hard not to be surprised by the demographic. A mixture of suited business people, school kids, hungry students and families, Jack's isn't just a collection of diners who have drifted in following the word of mouth or scent of burritos but a sure sign that people have clearly had enough of pre-packaged meals and reformed swill that's currently plaguing palettes nation-wide. It's not all plain sailing however, as Jack Grills explains:
“As an independent restaurant you have to try harder. It wasn't long after we opened that Nando's set up shop literally 500 years down the road. For a while I wanted to put a sign up in the window saying 'We're not Nando's, so we try harder' but the staff vetoed it. Luckily for us, not everyone wants to visit a reheated chicken factory and I think the fact that all our ingredients are fresh and the meat is grilled in-house makes a big difference to people.”
Illegal Jack's fight against the corporate giant that is Nando's casts an eerie similarity with BrewDog's own struggle against the monotony of the mainstream. Needless to say, those who have found a safe haven in Jack's also find a resonance with BrewDog.
“So far people's enthusiasm for the beers has been phenomenal. We're forever running out – the BrewDog shareholders in particular are ferocious fans of the beers - and everyone's really excited that we're soon going to be offering BrewDog on draught.”
Luckily, it's not just BrewDog and Illegal Jack's that are perfect match but also the number of beer and texmex food pairings that the menu offers:
“Punk IPA and chilli work incredibly well together. We also do a BrewDog vintage chilli which involves adding two bottles of Punk IPA to the mix about a third of the way through the cooking process. Of the five BrewDog brews we stock, there's a food pairing for each of them whether its 5am Saint and buffalo wings, 77 Lager and chicken burrito, Trashy Blonde and cheese nachos or – if you want to go all out – Hardcore IPA and the BrewDog vintage chilli.”
Thankfully, the Illegal Jack's / BrewDog love affair doesn't end at food pairings either as a wave of beer and burrito nights promise to give Lothian Road an entirely new reputation, hopefully for years to come.
“On the 25th of January Illegal Jack's will be holding its first 'Chilli Burns' night. As well as the usual texmex fayre, we'll have the guys from BrewDog round showcasing some of the more top end beers and with a quiz, welcome pint and as enough chips'n'dips to drown a small whale we're pretty excited about what the night might hold.”
To get your paws on a BrewDog and a burrito simply rock up to Illegal Jack's on 113-117 Lothian Road or call 0131 622 7499 to reserve yourself a table.