The Scran and Scallie seems to be just a casual pub until you realise that it is the sister of Michelin-starred Kitchin. So, while you can eat pub staples like fish and chips and steak pie, you also see hand-dived scallops on its menu. The menu itself, strangely, is littered with tacky headings like “yer puddins“ and “bits and bobs”, giving the initial impression that it is either a medieval banqueting joint in Slough or is catering to American tourists, possibly from Arkansas.
The wine list offered around a hundred labels and was organised by style (“rich and fruity”, “light and juicy”) rather than country or grape. There were plenty of wines under £40, but then something of a gap at the £50-99 range before featuring a clutch of wines at £200 or more. Around a fifth of the list was over £100, but only about half that number between £50-99, which felt rather unbalanced. Example labels were Cannonberg Chenin Blanc 2017 at £28.50 for a bottle that you can find in the higher street of £11, Rainer Wess Wachauer Gruner Veltliner 2016 at £45 compared to its retail price of £13, and BLANKBottle Carignan The Misfit 2016 at £61 for a bottle that will set you back about £19 in a shop. For those wishing to splurge, Paul Jaboulet Aine Hermitage Blanc Chevalier de Sterimberg 1998 was at £170 compared to its retail price of £57, and at Cos d’Estournel 1985 at £500 for a wine whose current market value is £204. You could even drink Chateau Latour from the superb 1990 vintage at a hefty £1,800 for a wine that currently retails at £866. Bread is from a bakery in nearby Leith called Le Petit Francais, and was perfectly pleasant. As you look at the menu you can nibble on some kitchen-made potato and parsnip crisps, which were delicate.
Tartare of wild sea trout came with radish, capers and pickled cucumbers. This was extremely good, the flavour of the fish lovely, seasoning spot on and the pickled cucumbers in particular very well made, the sourness of the pickling juices working well with the trout (comfortably 16/20). Gin-cured salmon with rye bread was cured on the premises, and came with a mustard sauce with capers and pickled cucumber, dill and a slice of lemon. The salmon had lovely flavour and the accompaniments nicely cut through the richness of the fish, the mustard just lifting the dish (easily 16/20). Hand dived king scallops from the Orkneys came served in a scallop shell with pancetta, turned carrots, peas and lettuce and a pea sauce made from chicken stock, pea puree, onions and shallots. This dish was a real joy, the scallops large, sweet and carefully cooked, the pancetta bringing a lovely smokiness, the carrots an earthy contrast and the pea sauce having great depth of flavour (17/20). I have had much worse scallop dishes than this in multi-starred restaurants.
Haddock and chips is a pub cliche but is so often disappointing. Here the haddock had great flavour, the batter was crisp and golden, and on the side were terrific mushy peas with pea shoots. Tartare sauce was a world away from the version you get in a jar, here having a real tangy flavour, the capers and gherkins giving bite to the mayonnaise. Chips were made from scratch on the premises and were crisp and golden. The last time I had fish and chips this good, apart from my last visit here, was when Simon Hopkinson made the dish at Bibendum back in the day (16/20).
Steak pie used Aberdeen Angus beef shoulder and other stewing cuts, the pie dish covered in excellent puff pastry with bone marrow at the centre. The beef had great flavour, tender and well seasoned, given depth by bone marrow and its richness lightened by some root vegetables. This is the meat pie that you dream of but hardly ever encounter (17/20).
It was always going to be hard for desserts to match up to savoury dishes of this quality. Strawberry cheesecake had a base of hobnob biscuits, with Philadelphia cream cheese and plenty of Madagascar vanilla pods, which was then set rather than baked. This was finished with Scottish strawberries, strawberry puree and confit orange. The strawberries were good but I am not sure about whether Philadelphia cheese really worked instead of a more classic cheese, such as a Brillat Savarin cheesecake that Phil Howard used to make at the Square in the old days (14/20). Coffee custard creme brûlée was made using espresso shots and cream that was then set and blowtorched, topped with a spelt tuile with blobs of Chantilly cream with a dusting of cocoa powder. There was good, deep coffee flavour but texture was too runny, and I didn't think that spelt worked very well in place of a regular biscuit tuile (14/20). Coffee was from a supplier called Miko in East Kilbride and had good flavour, with nice acidity.
Service from our waiter Alex and manager Robert was excellent, being attentive, friendly and professional. The bill came to £115 a head with a bottle of Ruinart Blanc de Blanc and some additional glasses of wine. If you shared a modest bottle then a typical cost per head for three courses and coffee might be around £70. This was another terrific meal at the Scran and Scallie, delivering pub food at a level that is pretty much unequalled anywhere in the U.K. Yet Michelin give it a mere bib gourmand, which is daft given some of the other places that they hand out stars to.
Further reviews: 06th Nov 2016