On our ongoing quest to get miles into our legs, in preparation for the walk from London to Brighton in May, MJ and I decided that a little stroll along the Union Canal was the way to go, this Sunday. About eight miles in to our journey, we came upon the Bridge Inn, at Ratho, so popped in to use the facilities and book a table for lunch. The busy little place couldn’t accommodate us until 2pm, so we headed back along the trial, rounding out a good 17 miles before lunch was taken.
I’d guess my last visit to the Bridge Inn was when I was around eight years old, so consequently, as with many things from childhood seen through the prism of tired, thirty-something eyes, it looked much smaller and entire less exciting than I remember it, at first, but by the time we were approaching it to provide us with life-affirming sustenance is looked like a stately pleasure-dome.
Once welcomed in and shown to our table in the bright and airy dining room, we were able to drink-in quite how busy, and how incredibly noisy, the place was. Seriously, I can’t remember a greater hubbub in a restaurant. There were a tremendous diversity of folks dining, ranging in ages from four months to “mature beyond the ambit of numbers”, illustrating that this was truly a family place.
We were quickly presented with menus, given details of the specials and asked for our drink requirements. The menu comprised pub grub classics, with the addition of some more top-end dishes, like a £26 fillet steak. We both had a little trouble settling on our choices, but eventually I plumped for Cullen skink to start, followed by the sausages and mash, which were served with crackling, black pudding and a cider apple sauce.
My soup arrived promptly and was accompanied by a neat bread board with a couple of chunky slices arranged on it. The soup was a touch problematic. As a “slightly smoked leek and potato soup” I’d have said that it was a fairly good example, as it was light and creamy, with good chunks of veg, but lacking a couple of twists of seasoning. As a Cullen skink, it was flat out not good, as there simply wasn’t enough fish in it to give it the usual depth of smoky, salty sweet goodness that you expect from this classic Scottish soup.
Main courses fared much better. MJ’s roast looked good, although the pork was a trifle overdone and consequently not as moist as it could have been. My sausages were meaty cylinders of goodness. The black pudding was excellent, the apple sauce nice and aromatic, and the mash smooth and buttery. The gravy could have used a little more body to marry the dish together, but it was good hearty dish, topped beautifully with crunchy strips of crackling.
So overall, I’d be perfectly content if the Bridge Inn were my local village pub. It has a lovely welcoming atmosphere, caters expertly for families, and is a thriving local centre of the community. The food it serves is good. It’s not great, but it’s entirely reliable fare. If we attempt the same walk again, as part of our training, I’ll be happy to pay it another visit, but will remember to book, next time!
On Sunday we had a wee stroll. We met at the start of the canal and walked to Ratho, where we popped into the Bridge Inn to book a table for lunch. Nothing was available for a few hours, so we continued on past Ratho for about 4 miles before turning around and heading back.
We arrived at the Bridge Inn hungry and a bit early. I sat at the bar where someone tried to sell me a ticket to the impending rugby match. I thanked him kindly, but told him I didn’t really feel up to watching Scotland lose again (but oh, what a game it turned out to be!—we were getting updates via texts from Istanbul and Edinburgh, cause we do love our rugby).
After a few minutes, we were seated at the back of the restaurant portion of the pub. It was cute, light, airy and had lovely wall paper (that I sat facing). The atmosphere was that of a good local pub, buzzing with people and friendly chatter with tables of families and children playing about.
We had a look at the menu, which is eclectic and serves everything from sausages, mash and black pudding, to the more elegant sirloins and filet steaks. Today, I opted for the Sunday roast pork with veggies, potatoes and a apple cider sauce.
When B’s soup arrived, the smell of smoked haddock filled my nose and I sipped the sparkling water carefully (there are no local conveniences along the canal) while I counted down the minutes until my food arrived. When it did, I was not disappointed. The size of the roast dinner was exactly what I wanted. HUGE! It came with several stacked slices of pork leg, roasted neeps and potatoes and carrots, an impressive looking Yorkshire pudding, and the sauce.
The carrots were perfect and lovely, the parsnips were a highlight for me, and the potatoes were good. The meat itself was a bit dry, and the sauce, while nicely making the pork a bit easier to stick on the fork (it kept falling to pieces), didn’t really taste of much and could have benefited from a spoonful of apple sauce tossed in and reduced along. I am not a fan of Yorkshire puddings, but B tucked into mine and it seemed to pass his approval. The only thing that seemed to be missing from my plate was something green.
The meal, however, defeated me, and I left a few bits. Don’t misunderstand me, that’s a good thing in my mind. I was hungry enough to eat a bucket-load of food, and I would have been saddened if I hadn’t been met with this feast.
Overall, this place seems like a good pub. They do nice food, good portions, decent prices and had a convivial atmosphere that is what I would want in my local, and should I find myself back in Ratho, I certainly wouldn’t be averse to popping back in.
Blythe scores the Bridge Inn:
3/5 for food
3/5 for presentation
3.5/5 for service
3.5/5 for setting
giving an overall 13/20
MJ scores the Bridge Inn:
3/5 for food
3.5/5 for presentation
3/5 for service
3.5/5 for setting
giving an overall 13/20
Today’s questers were: Miriam, Blythe
We ate: Cullen skink, roast pork leg plus trimmings, herby pork sausages, black pudding and mash
We drank: sparkly water
We wore: Sunday action wear
Total bill: c.£30
The Bridge Inn at Ratho