Following a £1.3 million transformation and with a MasterChef winner in the kitchen, expectations are high at the Plough on the Hill.
We were invited to the re-opening of the Allerdean venue on Friday night as drinkers and diners had their first chance to see what owners Robert Kingsley and Sarah Carmichael have overseen over the past nine months.
Their goal is to deliver a family-friendly gastropub experience, offering fine local produce in lavish surroundings. Taking the helm in the kitchen is Gary Maclean, winner of MasterChef: The Professionals 2016, as executive chef.
The redevelopment is undeniably impressive with beautiful stonework creating a fine first impression, while children’s eyes will light up when they see the new play park built alongside. There are lovely outdoor seating areas offering fantastic views towards the Cheviots which will be a popular draw in the summer.
However, we were here to find out whether the Plough on the Hill delivers on the dining front.
We were warmly welcomed and taken to our table, admiring the Turkish lampshades and African-themed artefacts and noting the live music.
Our starters took a little while to arrive but that is perhaps to be expected given how busy the place was on opening night.
I opted for Foreman’s black pudding with runny egg and garlic potatoes which was great. It would make a hearty brunch dish with a strong coffee.
The rest of our party chose: spinach and feta with chick peas, pine nuts and Parmesan, which let the ingredients do the talking; the Inka-grilled prawns with chorizo, were delicious and nicely spiced; and Douglas Flannigan’s handpicked Berwickshire white crab had a lovely citrus tang that didn’t overpower the delicate crab flavour.
On to the mains, I selected a 10oz sirloin steak served with chips, slow-cooked plum tomato, field mushroom and onion rings. This highlighted the worth of the Inka grill, giving the beef a chargrilled coating while remaining succulent and tender on the inside. Just perfect.
The chunky herb-crusted cod loin was wonderfully cooked, served with crushed pink fir apple potatoes, roasted red pepper coulis and a Mediterranean vegetable ratatouille. The Moroccan seafood curry consisted of monkfish, king prawns, salmon, chick peas, sumac and coriander yogurt served with grilled flat bread - a very well balanced main course with succulent chunky pieces of fish and delicately flavoured flatbread. The rump of lamb, served with tasty homemade chips, plum tomato, field mushroom and onion rings, was very tasty and cooked as requested.
There were a selection of mouth-watering desserts to choose from and there were compliments all round when we tucked into our choices – a rich chocolate and praline tart with raspberry sorbet, sticky toffee pudding, and a light banoffee cheesecake.
Anyone expecting fine dining and silver service will be disappointed. That’s not what the Plough on the Hill is about. It’s about good quality, well-cooked food, locally produced if possible and in season, served by pleasant staff and in beautiful surroundings.