Breath of fresh Ayr in village hostelry.
THE CRAIGIE INN
5 MAIN STREET CRAIGIE
To say that the Ayrshire village of Craigie is a bit on the small side is probably the understatement of the year.
In fact, I heard a rumour it's officially twinned with a doll's house in the south of France.
The local fire brigade use water pistols. They grit the roads in winter with the wee blue sachet from a bag of Salt'n'Shake. Planning permission is required before eating a foot-long hot dog. And you need to make a reservation to use the parking meter.
Anyway, you get my drift.
The Craigie Inn could easily be confused with the country pub in An American Werewolf In London but, I'm pleased to report, they do like strangers round these parts.
In fact, we were welcomed to Craigie by a cheerful wee scamp who was out playing on his bike. (Careful with the traffic, son, I hear there's another car due to pass through the village in March, 2014...)
Craigie might seem pretty remote - I half-expected to be sitting at a table next to Osama Bin Laden, Lord Lucan and Bible John - but it's only a pleasant two-mile drive from the busy A77. Just keep your eyes peeled for the big sign near the cut-o for Tarbolton. Can't miss it.
We popped in a couple of weeks ago after presenting my latest Hot Plate Award to the excellent Beresford Wine Bar and Art Gallery in Ayr. (You been yet?) And, on this form, who's to say The Craigie Inn won't pick up our next gong? It's actually called Hogarth's@ The Craigie Inn.
Chef-proprietor Craig Hogarth (in partnership with his fiancee, according to our cheery waitress) runs the show and I was well impressed by the way he wandered round all the tables to make sure everyone was having a good time.
The punters always appreciate that sort of hands-on approach.
Seven words on Craig's business cards just about sum up this wee place - locally owned, locally run, locally sourced produce.
Service was really friendly (I loved it when the pair of us were ushered to a spacious table for four with zero fuss), the menu was a mouth-watering array of classic comfort food and, heck, even the Michael Buble CD couldn't spoil my overall enjoyment. (Terrific voice, sure, but what a bawheid.)
Liz started with a hearty bowl of homemade cream of mushroom soup which she raved about all the way up the road. Thick, piping hot and served with really good crusty bread, it was the perfect way to kick-o lunch on a chilly October afternoon.
Across the table, I enjoyed what's perhaps best described as a posh mini-breakfast. A slice of perfectlycooked Stornoway black pudding and two shards of crispy Parma ham sitting on a potato scone and topped o with a runny poached egg.
It was just about perfect. But the kitchen nearly spoiled it with some sort of light sauce drizzled over the top.
After checking with the chef, our waitress informed us it was a red wine reduction that had Keep apparently taken - wait for it - a day and a half to perfect. Ten out of ten for effort. And I'm sure any passing Michelin inspectors will be well impressed. But the runny egg yolk was the only "juice" this cracking little dish required and, in terms of constructive criticism, I thought the 36-hour reduction was surplus to requirements.
Main courses? A fillet of salmon for Liz that was topped with a wonderful cheesey, creamy Wesh rarebit and served with mash and roasted veg.
But I'd urge you to follow my lead and order the Craigie Inn steak, ale and mushroom pie (take another tip and swap the mashed potatoes for the excellent hand-cut chips).
Served in a ceramic pot, the thick, biscuity pastry shell worked a treat with the rich gravy (don't be scared to bash it up a bit until it's all deliciously soggy and yummy) and I struggled to finish even half of the good quality, beefy chunks.
Pound for pound, easily the best steak pie I've tasted this side of e Ship Inn at Irvine. And that's high praise, indeed.
The generous portions at The Craigie Inn mean a medal should be struck for anyone who can even think about dessert.
A shame, as our eyes had been drawn to the Oreo cheescake from the first minute we picked up the menu.
Still, what a great excuse for a quick return trip...
Keep track of Tam's reviews on the Daily Record website. Find the best places to eat out at www.dailyrecord.co.uk/eatingout. The new Hot Plate winner is the Beresford Wine Bar & Art Gallery, Ayr. 01292 280820
TAM'S HOT PLATE CONTENDERS
HOGARTHS @THE CRAIGIE INN
Address: 5 Main Street, Craigie, Ayrshire
Tel: 01563 860286
Open: All day seven days
Wheelchair access: Yes
Bill for two: pounds 31
Food: 5/5 - truly memorable
Service: 5/5 - terrific
Decor: 4/5 - snug and toasty
Toilets: 4/5 - small but perfectly formed
Value: 5/5 - has to be best 30 quid I've spent in ages
43 Rose Street, Edinburgh. 0131 225 8028 23/25
CLASS ACT... The food is superb
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|Publication:||Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)|
|Date:||Oct 30, 2010|
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