“I’d like to take you out to lunch,” an old friend said to me, out of the blue.
“And I’d like to go the Kingarroch Inn,” he added.
What’s not to like about the offer of a free lunch? Nothing, except that the Kingarroch has had a bit of a chequered history in recent years, opening briefly after a massive fire devastated the building, then closing again.
But now it’s in the hands of chef Kevin Joubert and his partner Ola, and while the surroundings don’t differ from days of old, the menu certainly does.
Billing itself now as a gastro pub is no mistake, for the fairly short, but well-formed menu, offers a bit of everything from gastronomic specialities to good old-fashioned pub grub with a soupçon of individuality.
The menu changes regularly, but I hope my starter never disappears – goat’s cheese panna cotta.
It was one of the best things I’ve tasted recently – delicately flavoured, light, just set, it was a wee piece of heaven on a plate. Alongside it slivers of apple, pickled walnuts, pesto and thin, thin, crispy croutons made a dish that was perfect as a starter, but which I could have eaten for every course, every day.
My host went for the wild mushroom soup – a generous portion served with home made bread, all of which disappeared faster than snow off a dyke, amid much lip-smacking of pleasure.
I can rarely resist a burger, and this occasion was no exception – and how glad was I that I didn’t resist?
Very glad. Very, very glad.
A toasted brioche bun enclosed a meaty, juicy, tasty burger with all the right accompaniments – lettuce, tomato, gherkins, melting cheese.
And while having the right things in the bun with the beef can make a burger, if the meat itself ain’t right, the whole thing ain’t right. But this slab of beef was more than right and the assembly added up to something exceptional.
Good chips and a pot of home-made ketchup completed a delicious plateful.
Exceptional was the word to describe the fish and chips which appeared at the place opposite me – exceptional because the catch of the day was catfish. It’s a fish that won’t win any beauty contests, but it certainly won the heart of the man with the wallet.
Our server was able to tell us about the fish – its taste and texture, and while it didn’t disappoint, but what garnered the greatest approval was the batter. I could hear the crispy crunch from the other side of the table, and I was told it tasted every bit as good as it looked.
Alongside,chips and mushy peas – no judgement passed on the peas as that particular diner just doesn’t like peas, but I enjoyed my little taste of them.
So well fed were we that we didn’t manage a dessert, but there was a good choice, along with biscuits and cheese.
The Kingarroch has been reinvented equally good as a place to pop in to for a casual lunch as for a special meal in the formal restaurant – delicious food either way.
The Kingarroch Inn Gastro Pub, Main Street
Tel 01334 829301