The debate of ‘What is a gastro pub?’ began before we even arrived at Stockbridge’s new public house with dining, The Scran & Scallie. Is it a word used for a restaurant that wants a laid back, informal feel; or is it mainly a pub that can try and make more money by selling food? The Scran & Scallie opened in May this year offering the same ethos as its sister restaurants ‘The Kitchin’ and ‘Castle Terrace’, food from ‘nature to plate’. The intention is to provide quality home cooked dishes using fresh ingredients. The difference from its sister restaurants is that it is not aiming for Michelin stars but a place you can come and enjoy good food or just have a drink in a more relaxed setting.
We had booked a table, but the restaurant only allows certain amount of bookings with the rest walk in’s. We walked through the busy bar area where people were having drinks and were led to the restaurant which has a rustic atmosphere, with tartan and tweeds adding character to a somewhat simple feel. We ordered a bottle of red wine and two beers from the impressive and extensive beer list.
The menu had all your pub classics such as fish and chips or burgers along with other somewhat more unusual dishes and cuts of meat. The waiter was very friendly and had a great knowledge of the menu and the cooking involved in the dishes. However when asked if the chips were home-made he explained that they just don’t have the staff to make home- made chips? This appeared strange considering their motto ‘from nature to plate’.
For starter I chose a slightly unusual dish of Pig’s ear Carpaccio & sauce gribiche. The crispy pig’s ear on top gave the dish a crunchy texture but apart from that it did not deliver. The dish was very bland with no real taste.
The two starter specials were ordered by my friend’s, “langoustines in garlic butter” and “asparagus with hollandaise sauce”.I had food envy. Both of these dishes were very tasty. The asparagus was so juicy yet still had a crunch and when dipped into the rich buttery hollandaise sauce it was sensational. The langoustines were also full of flavour, sweet yet juicy and cooked to perfection.
On recommendation I opted for the Braised hogget shoulder, peas & lettuce for my main course. The waiter had explained that the process of cooking this dish takes three days and you can understand why. Packed full of flavour the hogget was so succulent and melted in your mouth. The peas gave the dish a fresh taste and the crunchy pieces of carrot added another texture. This was definitely the highlight of the meal.
We opted to have a few side dishes to go with our mains. Mini roasted chorizo potatoes, these were sensational. Salty roasted potatoes with crunchy pieces of chorizo throughout, the perfect match to any main! We also had a portion of the Braised cabbage & bacon which again was delicious.
For dessert I had Warm chocolate chip cookie & ice cream. This had a very quirky presentation as it arrived in a little frying pan. Such a simple concept that I would never have thought of, but it worked so well. Warm melting chocolate from the doughy soft cookie with a crunchy outside melting into the creamy ice cream; delightful.
Apart from the bland starter and not making their own chips Scran & Scallie certainly delivers on atmosphere, food and service at a high level ensuring comfort yet unfussiness. But is it a’ gastro pub? Yes they have a bar area and a restaurant area so they can probably claim to be but I’m not sure I would just pop in here for a few drinks. I personally would say that this is a restaurant. I think they are clever in positioning themselves as a public house/restaurant because in only allowing a certain amount of bookings they can get a large number of people into the bar area as walk-in’s to buy drinks while they wait for a table. As drinks have such a high profit margin in restaurants this seems like a good business model to me. However, this is just my opinion, they do have a great beer list and maybe this draws in some of the locals who just want to have some drinks. I think that this point will always cause a debate but there is no doubt that I will be returning to try again!
Bill for Four: £160 (including 2 bottles of wine and beer)
Food: Scottish food -or ‘scran’
Service: Excellent, knowledgeable
Atmosphere: Relaxed, casual
Overall: 8 / 10