For those of you who don’t know me, I was born & bred in Inverness and my family still live there so I make regular trips up the (dreaded) A9 for visits. In some ways not living there can have its benefits. I get to go home to mum and dad’s to be looked after, I appreciate the place more & I’ve lots of people to test restaurants for me so I know where is worth a visit. Last time I was up mum had chosen a secret place for dinner & all anyone would tell was that it was out of town. I learned in the car over that we were headed to Munlochy, which is just over the Kessock Bridge and up some windy roads. It’s an area that mum discovered out walking at the nearby Ord Hill, and I saw for myself a few days later the fantastic views over Inverness.
View from Ord Hill
If you don’t know the area then I’d make sure that you have a map or sat-nav at the ready. Once you get to Munlochy though, The Allangrange Arms is on the main road so nice & easy to find. A plus with eating out of town is the plentiful free parking which we took advantage of. There were lots of outside tables that looked perfect for summer afternoon but this certainly was not a sunny afternoon so we toddled inside. It was quiet on the Monday night that we visited but where isn’t on a Monday? Especially up Inverness way, where most people seem to save going out for the weekends (trust me, everywhere is packed on a Saturday).
We had booked a table anyway since there was five of us and a lovely table it was. All rustic looking with some cute candles and round the corner so we weren’t eating our dinner right in the middle of the pint supping lot. This is essentially a local pub for some people & I’m sure it gets its fair share of regulars. It seems like the sort of place that Mr S and I would take advantage of regularly if we lived up that way.
We settled in and were given menus and offered drinks. We enquired about their ales on draft and within the selection was Happy Chappy Pale Ale from the Cromarty Brewing Co. This was the moment that I realised that I liked this place – local (tick), delicious pale ale (tick) & supporting little brewers (tick). Pale Ale is my newest alcohol love and Happy Chappy just so happens to be my favourite so far. The Allangrange also does buy one get one free cocktails Monday to Friday so we’ll try them next time.
As for the menu, there were more specials than staples, which I was hoping was a positive thing meaning fresh & seasonal ingredients. It was a hard decision with the starters because they had mussels, langoustines and scallops. In the end my sister and I shared the pan seared West coast scallops served with a chorizo, saffron and herb risotto. The scallops were obviously fresh and the risotto packed enough punch to deliver on taste but not drown out the scallops.
Scallops & Risotto Starter £7.95
The Cullen Skink starter was a winter warmer, thick with flavour and chunks of fish. My dad kindly let me sample some and I’d easily polish off a bowl with some crusty bread. So far so good.
Cullen Skink £5.95
Mum went for the smoked ham hock with apple & spinach salad which was served with wholegrain mustard and Highland Crowdie sauce. It was presented well on one of those slate plates and mum ate the lot saying it was yummy.
Ham hock salad £6.45
We ordered a bottle of red wine with the main courses as we were all having red meat. Unfortunately they did not have our first choice of Montepulciano in stock but their wine list had just been changed so that is understandable. We had a fruity Shiraz instead that was a very reasonable £15.95 a bottle.
For main course three of us ended up having the burger and two of us had the lamb shank. There was a vast selection to choose from including lobster thermidor, Cromarty brown crab, veggie curry & surf n turf but the Cullen’s all wanted the same things. The burgers were huge & consisted of a beef patty, sliced chorizo, pulled pork, bacon, cheese and onion rings all crammed into a bun. They were served with chunky chips and beetroot salad all on a long wooden board. Personally I don’t like being given these boards because there is not much room for moving things & putting sauce on the side but I was having the lamb shank and the burger fiends didn’t seem to mind too much. The burgers brought a lot of praise to the table but they were all wishing that they had swerved the starters so they had space in their bellies to finish it. The quality smoky bacon was appreciated & it’s nice that it was not just an afterthought. One out of the three of them commented that it was too wet so the bun fell apart but it maybe just needed a sturdier brioche bun.
The lamb shank was another homemade pub grub triumph in my eyes. The tikka masala sauce was rich and flavoursome, the meat was falling off the bone & the potato chunks were crispy. It’s the ideal dish that I want to be served in somewhere like The Allangrange. My only gripe is that I would have preferred mash with it but that is just my personal preference and I still loved the dish.
Lamb Shank £12.50
We were full but with my sister & I spurring each other on we had some desserts anyway. I went for the chocolate brownie with vanilla ice-cream. Unfortunately the brownie was quite dry and more like a cake minus the icing. Brownie to me should be gooey but it just wasn’t.
She went for the creme brulee, which was flavoured with honey and white chocolate & served with homemade shortbread. I was dubious about the honey and white chocolate complementing each other but it was actually really nice.
Creme brulee £5.50
The favourite of the desserts was the millionaire shortbread cheesecake (£5.50) – it was just delicious and I was tempted to order one to take home. Unusually it arrived as a pile in a bowl as opposed to in a cake slice form and it was a gooey loveliness.
You’ve probably gathered from what has been written that I liked The Allangrange Arms a lot indeed. In fact, I wish that we had a pub near us that served food as nice as they do because I find most pub food to be rather disappointing. I found the location both endearing and inconvenient – endearing as it is a gorgeous spot but inconvenient because someone has to drive. I’m looking forward to my next trip up so that we can go back and wile away a Sunday afternoon next to the fire trying out their roast dinner. For The Allangrange is no longer a secret to me, and I plan to make the most of that.