It’s a restaurant truth universally acknowledged that, if you’re a well-known chef with a Michelin-starred restaurant, you can charge whatever you damn well please and people will pay it, even when the food is mostly the same mediocre deep-fry fest you can get at any other pub. Or the chippy next door.
This is clearly the philosophy Tom Kitchn’s working off of at his popular Stockbridge gastropub, The Scran & Scallie. Kitchn’s best known for being the owner of The Kitchn and for being the youngest recipient of a Michelin star. The Scran & Scallie opened up a few months ago, and given his reputation, I was intrigued. Though the menu was…not terribly inventive, I thought there surely must be some hidden surprises. The fish and chips weren’t just fish and chips, right? Surely there was some curry spicing in the batter or something to elevate it a little above what you could find in any middling pub?
There are no surprises.
Let me start with some positives: the place has an excellent and lengthy drinks menu with some really intriguing cocktails. They also had a list of virgin cocktails, which I appreciated, being about nine months pregnant and all. The Sweet and Sour Plum that I had was delicious. And equally interesting sounding are some of the bar snacks.
Also quite good: the starters, but here’s where things get odd. There seems to be some kind of a disconnect between the courses at this place. The starters have a certain refinement to them that the rest of the restaurant’s dishes lack. My husband had half a dozen lovely oysters; I tried ox tongue with mushrooms and bone marrow (the tongue was marvellously crispy and flavourful; the marrow indulgently, meltingly fatty and delicious). Other starters include a roe deer terrine and a crab and coriander ravioli. These are all dishes you could reasonably expect to find on the menu at a fairly high-end restaurant. But move on to the mains and it’s all pub grub. Fish and chips, burger, bangers and mash, cottage pie. To be honest, I struggled to find something I couldn’t just make myself at home.
In the end, I settled for the Scran & Scallie burger, while my husband went for the fish and chips. What makes the burger a Scran & Scallie burger? If you ever find out, let me know. What was served up to me was largely flavourless and had the disturbing appearance of the types of burgers you get ready made and frozen. I was never asked how I wanted it cooked, and it came out slightly pink all the way through. Not a problem, really, but it is nice to be asked. It did come on a very nice brioche bun, and the chips were delicious–thick cut, crispy on the outside and fluffy in. My husband’s fish and chips were just that: a slab of fried fish with a cutesy little pail of chips and some tartare sauce. Not bad–the coating on the fish was nice and light and crispy–but certainly nothing special at all. Certainly not worth what they’re charging for it. Not by a long shot. And if you want something green to balance out all that grease, you have to order it separately.
Neither of us finished our mains. The combination of gastronomic boredom and grease was a bit much, and we decided to pack it in before our digestive systems rebelled completely. After asking for the bill three times, we finally paid up and headed out, shrugging that we’d given it a go and found it wanting. C’est la vie. Considering how full the place always is, I’m guessing we’re in the minority. Or maybe it’s the Kitchn name that keeps pulling people back in.
Verdict: Come for pub snacks and drinks, don’t bother with the overpriced dinner