Canine capers at Cramond
Edinburgh’s cat cafe is well established, however the Cramond Inn has long been a firm favourite with the dog walkers.
New owners, husband and wife team, Bill Yardley and Allyson Weir, have clocked that the capital is choc-full with dog lovers looking for a place to refuel post-walkies. Allyson, who is omnipresent in the inn’s inter-connecting rooms, zips around followed by a straggle of canine drifters, who have picked up the scent of the treats in her pockets which she dishes out from time to time.
Furry friends are permitted in two rooms – the snug (which has a warm wall backing onto a real fire next door; much appreciated after a breezy walk along the Forth, and a water bowl for thirsty canines) and the red room for eating, which is home to one of the three real fires. When I visited, one pooch strayed into the people-only area and performed an impressive trick, rolling out the door back to his owner… However, in the main, the two legged kept the four legged in the correct spaces.
It is a bonus that The Cramond Inn is so dog (and child) friendly, however it is about so much more than that. Bill, who hails from Vancouver, and Allyson, who’s originally from Scotland but who lived in Canada long enough to develop a distinct accent, have introduced their North American hospitality to the centuries old coaching inn. Their aim is to “give the pub back to the community” and make it the hub of the village again. Having visited twice recently – once for coffee, dog lead in hand, and once for food with a friend – I am happy to report that it is one of the most friendly welcomes I’ve experienced in Edinburgh and Lothian. Bill and Allyson have been as busy the first few months of this year as they anticipated they might be at the height of summer.
The popularity is partly due to its location, close to the broad promenade where visitors turn up in droves at weekends. However, their success is also credited to what is being created by Bill and the full-time chef in the kitchen: a good choice of blackboard specials, along with a traditional Sunday lunch roast, and the usual popular pub grub which the Scottish palate craves.
Bill and the team are concocting proper food, such as the 6 oz venison burger with crispy bacon and Stilton and hand cut chips, which I chose on my most recent visit. The meat was solid, the bun nicely toasted and the chips full of flavour. My friend picked one of the other specials – a fisherman’s pie packed with prawns, haddock and salmon. The creamy leek sauce and potato topping went down a treat. That would have been filling enough for us, however in the spirit of reviewing a variety of dishes, we found room for deserts – and I’m so glad we did. The raspberry and apple crumble with custard “got a little melody going”, according to my friend, while my chocolate brownie, made with beer and accompanied by raspberry coulis and vanilla ice cream, contained possibly the best brownie I’ve ever tasted (and I’ve had a few).
With a good selection of the mains available as children’s portions, and decent vegetarian choices such as aubergine and beetroot curry, the fare here is worth the journey, wherever it starts.
Bill and Allyson have established consistent hours “so people can go for a walk and know that they can get sandwiches, soup or something to eat afterwards”. They are planning extended opening beyond 8pm Monday-Saturdays from April.
Prices: Starters from £2.25-£3.95; mains from £6.50 to £8.95; desserts from £3.35 -£3.75.
The Cramond Inn. 30 Cramond Glebe Road, Edinburgh EH4 6NU. Tel. 0131 336 2035.
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