We’re all familiar with the term ‘gastro-pub.’ Sadly, we’re also familiar with the soggy -lasagna-soup-in-a basket standard of fare that generally masquerades as superior pub dining. So welcome to the Scran & Scallie, a joint enterprise between Tom Kitchin and Dominic Jack, that genuinly deserves that gastro-pub tag. Situated on a quiet road in Stockbridge, the place has a relaxed feel, the staff are friendly and, for those on a budget, there’s a daily set lunch menu at £15 a head for three courses.
Today, however, was a day for pushing the proverbial boat out, so we opted to go a la carte. Service takes long enough to persuade you that dishes really are being made to order. A basket of crusty bread and butter kept us going while we waited. I started with smoked trout and potato salad, the flakes of trout cooked to perfection, the potatoes just al dente enough, the light dressing perfectly judged. Susan went for a heritage tomato salad, with black olives & consommé, deliciously light and intensely flavoured. Beside me, our companion announced that he was enjoying his chicken liver parfait & pickled cabbage, served with a couple of pieces of crunchy toast.
For the main course, two of us opted for the steak pie, which sounded alluring and looked quite majestic when it arrived, the light-as-a-feather canopy of pastry supported by a great big chunk of marrow bone, packed with a rich salty filling. There’s a portion of chips, chunky, crispy, exactly as good chips should be; and I chose a side of roasted new potatoes with chorizo, which made an inspired addition to the already intense flavour of the succulent meat. Our companion, ever the individual, went for beef sausage & mash, which arrived looking as though it had been designed primarily to illustrate what such a dish should look like – thick, juicy sausages, smooth-as-you-like spuds and a caramelised onion gravy. The only oddity here was the inclusion of a couple of hefty-looking onion rings; they were nicely cooked, lightly battered, the onion within still crispy. Perfectly tasty, but did it really belong on this dish? I’m not sure, but hey, it’s a minor niggle.
Be warned, the portions at The Scran are best described as ‘hearty,’ so be prepared for that belly-slapping, contented feeling you only ever get when everything is exactly as you want it and there’s plenty of it. We were so full, in fact, we very nearly convinced ourselves that we couldn’t possibly bring ourselves to order a pudding, but then we saw the menu and decided to sacrifice everything for our art.
So there was a delightfully light sticky toffee pudding, drenched in a sweet sauce and served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream; and a vanilla cheesecake with Scottish raspberries, the cheesecake rich, smooth and flavoursome, perfectly contrasted with the acidity of those fresh raspberries. Yum.
Okay, so TS&S lacks the finesse of say, Castle Terrace, but then, that’s entirely the point. This is superior quality nosh, artfully cooked, nicely presented in a relaxed environment where you can happily enjoy a pint with your food. And it’s excellent. Apart from those onion rings, I couldn’t fault this, not one mouthful of it. If you’re in Edinburgh, looking for a memorable meal without the pretensions, this should be your first port of call.