One of my friends in work loves her grub as much as I do - we constantly compare places we have been! I had seen that she visited the Craigie Inn, and decided to do a little investigation. My heart was stolen by their menu, and a booking was made shortly after.
Craigie is a teeny tiny place set in the midst of Ayrshire. After winding through a few back roads, it is actually rather simple to find - and what a find it is. On the outside, the Craigie Inn looks exactly how a traditional inn should: pristine white building, flower baskets all around and that famous Scottish (unknown) font that all good establishments have their signage in. When we were walking through the car park, there was a wonderful Wintry smell of burning logs - bliss.
|The Craigie Inn exterior, courtesy of their website|
When you enter, it really does feel like you're going into someones home. The room is softly lit but not dim, and the atmosphere is friendly and relaxed. A large wooden mantelpiece is placed at the opposite wall, and each table is simplistically decorated with a vase of fake flowers. We were sat next to a windowsill, which contained a very strange tea light holder. His name is now Fire 'Stunt' Frog. Don't ask...
|Our tea light friend|
We were seated and greeted by a very friendly and smiley waitress, who gave us our menus. The great thing about the Craigie Inn is that they have a 'Dine Out for Less' menu, which includes Friday nights. It's two courses for £18.50, and it runs right up until 9pm at night. My steak obsession got the better of me, therefore we decided to go A La Carte. As you can see, Paul was very happy with the menu (apologies Paul, this photograph was too funny to keep to myself!)
|Happy Paul :)|
The menu really is full of really well described dishes; each sounded mouthwatering. We really struggled to decide... until the steaks were spotted. After that, it was all humming and hawing about starters. The decisions were made, and were as follows: Paul ordered the chicken and duck liver pate with an orange and cranberry chutney, served with Arran oatcakes; Stevie went for the salad of Stornoway black pudding, potato scone, crisp parma ham and topped with a poached egg; I opted for the traditional prawn cocktail with crisp leaves, fresh lemon and Marie Rose sauce.
|Free, tasty bread|
Whilst we waited on our first course, we were given complimentary hot rolls and soft butter. The rolls had a slight garlicky, peppered taste to them and it was beautiful. I think it's really something to praise when you are given something as delicious, yet simple, as a nice hot roll and creamy butter to start off your meal on a chilly night. Especially if it's free...
|Chicken and duck liver pate with an orange and cranberry chutney, served with Arran oatcakes|
This was really a wonderful dish, and Paul happily chomped his way through. The pate had a strong meaty flavour, which was contrasted with the sweetness of the juicy orange and cranberry chutney. The oatcakes were baked to a crispy perfection, and all served with a light side salad of fresh leaves, tomatoes and onions. Definitely one for the pate lovers!
|Salad of Stornoway black pudding, potato scone, crisp parma ham topped with a poached egg|
This was something that I nearly ordered, as a massive fan of black pudding and poached eggs. I was meant to try a bit, but my dear friend Stevie decided it was too good to share and snaffled the whole thing himself. The poached egg oozed over the black pudding and potato scone, leaving a glorious golden trail coating the salad. Not a smidgen of food was left on his plate, and he said that it was absolutely amazing. Pretty much like a posh fry up!
|Traditional prawn cocktail with crisp leaves, fresh lemon and Marie Rose sauce|
I do love a prawn cocktail these days, and this one was especially good. The prawns were thick and cut into big chunks, served on beds of crispy, fresh lettuce leaves and topped with a sun-dried tomato. The prawns were heavily coated in the thick, creamy Marie Rose sauce, which I drizzled the fresh lemon wedge over. The lemon added a beautiful citrus tang to the mellow flavour of the mayonnaise based sauce, which ensured that I enjoyed every single bite. Together it was divine to eat, and it came in three easy to manage portions.
From reading the menu online prior to my visit, there were many choices which I had narrowed my main course down to. I wanted to try something a bit different so that I could write about it and encourage others to follow suit - unfortunately when I see fillet steak on the menu, it's almost a compulsion to order it!
|Medium sirloin steak with peppercorn sauce|
Paul decided to go for a medium sirloin steak with peppercorn sauce. The steak comes with a roasted tomato, chips, onion rings (wahoo!) and a mushroom. Paul decided to copy me and ask for mashed potatoes instead of chips - excellent choice though! He cleared his plate off with no complaints, and rubbed his aching belly with what could only be described as complete satisfaction.
|Medium-rare fillet steak with peppercorn sauce|
Stevie ordered a fillet steak, and kept all the trimmings as they were described on the menu. The fillet steak was absolutely massive! It was pretty much the size of The Incredible Hulk's fist. The chips were really chunky and big too, but not greasy or spoiled. They were lovely and crisp on the outside, but fluffy and light inside.
|Medium-rare fillet steak with peppercorn sauce|
I haven't had steak in quite a while, if you believe that. The fillet I had was shockingly big, but needless to say it was annihilated. The roasted tomato was sweet and bursting with juices and flavour - I find that the roasted tomato really is a fantastic companion with a steak. The piped mashed potatoes were very light and buttery, and frankly I am so glad I ordered them as a side as opposed to chips. Seriously, if you're a mash fan, get this stuff! The onion rings...oh, the onion rings. Crispy batter, but not greasy or too solid. The onions were sweet, well cooked and quite frankly they are the best onion rings I have had for a long time. Very well done Craigie Inn, I'm a tough one to please when it comes to onion rings! The steak was a fantastic rose colour in the middle, and I drowned it in the creamy peppercorn sauce. There was a slight sweetness to the sauce when you first tasted it, which slowly faded into the mellow of the cream, then the kick of the peppercorn. It was a perfect steak, and I have not one single complaint.
Our stomachs were achingly full, and we felt truly satisfied. Then, those words that all grubbers like myself and Stevie fear... "Would you like to see a dessert menu?". Paul was really peer pressured into the situation, but when the food had been as good as it was, desserts were the perfect way to round it off. We decided to get the Craigie Inn Grand Dessert, meant to serve two. We took it for the three of us to share instead, and to be honest it was just enough to fill me to the point of no return.
|The Craigie Inn Grand Dessert|
At the top of the plate, there are three cubes of white chocolate and Baileys cheesecake, served with a raspberry and a blueberry, then garnished with chocolate sauce. The next dessert down is a blob of lemon ice cream, which was really tasty but not tangy or brutal on your taste buds Beside that (the pink one) is a strawberry and raspberry torte, topped with strawberry compote. Personally, not a fan of the texture of this so I didn't try more than a bite. Far left is the passion fruit Panna Cotta, garnished with white chocolate shavings and raspberries. Be warned, this was extremely tangy and sweet. It was delicious, but personally I found it too sickly. Far right was a small slice of lemon and honey tart; finally at the bottom there is a chunk of sticky toffee pudding, resting next to peach ice cream.
We didn't manage to finish every last bite, but we made a good go of it. It was also a great opportunity to taste all the sweets they had available, without committing to just one. I would definitely recommend it if you're fussy, or can't decide between the amazing desserts they offer!
With our stomachs finally crying out for us to stop, we put the spoons down. Our plates were cleared away, and the staff were happy to let us sit and digest the absolute feast we had conquered.
The bill was for: Three starters, three steak mains, one sharing dessert, three beers and a soft drink. This came to just over £112 for the three of us, working out at approximately £38 a head.
I would definitely recommend that you visit the Craigie Inn. The atmosphere is truly homely and welcoming, with a great team of staff to add to the experience. The food is comforting and of a high standard, especially for the portions that you get too. Get yourself booked in for a table, and thank me later!
5 Main Street
Tel: 01563 860286
Wheelchair access: No