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Restaurant review: The Creel Inn rustles up some works of art on a plate in Catterline

Good food was a work of art at The Creel Inn in Catterline.
Good food was a work of art at The Creel Inn in Catterline.

Joining the dots can be something of an art form – especially when the end result is something you hadn’t planned, but end up thoroughly enjoying.

In this particular case, it was noticing Aberdeen Art Gallery had an online exhibition celebrating the brilliant artist Joan Eardley, then remembering she had done so much of her work around Catterline, which brought me to the realisation we hadn’t been to The Creel Inn for dinner in ages.

Dots joined, it was time for a quick phone, grab a table and we were off down the coast to the lovely pub and eatery that sits on the clifftop overlooking a stunning seascape.

The Creel Inn is painted white and it has an outdoor area with wooden picnic tables.
The Creel Inn is a destination venue for good food.

No wonder Joan loved the place and its light. We weren’t lingering for the views, though. Our landscape was food. Well, a cheeky wee beer first, then food.

The Venue

The Creel is as much a community pub as it is a destination for dining, so we were chuffed to find room at the bar to have a libation – Beavertown Neck Oil on draught no less – and a chinwag with some old chums who live in the village.

Nattering done – but not before I clocked the fine Belgian beers in the fridge – we were shown through to our table.

The dining room was cosy, with a roaring gas flame-effect fire in the middle of the space, which was all roughcast walls and wooden beams. Rustic done right.

Crab bruschetta for a starter.

So was the menu. Unfussy – one starter was just named  “duck” – with the focus on local produce be it from the field or the sea.

Given we were literally a stone’s throw away from the North Sea, it was only right my starter was the crab bruschetta. Meanwhile, my other half decided the aforementioned duck was just the thing to get proceedings going.

We didn’t have to wait long until our dishes arrived, alone with a tonic for Mrs B and a Westmalle Dubbel for me. Told you the Creel had good beers.

The Food

The crab was what it said on the tin, a slice of tasty bread heaped high with crab and chive. The white meat was delightfully delicate and the side salad and rocket added crunch. However, the whole thing was pushed out of balance by the balsamic. It overwhelmed the subtle taste of the crab, which was a pity.

Simply duck came with a symphony of flavours at The Creel Inn in Catterline.

The duck, however, fired up the flavour front. It had a five-spice coating which brought out the flavours of the breast meat while a bit of pickled fennel added a nice peppery zest. A raspberry foam on the side brought welcome sweetness while asparagus tips were a nice touch.

It was all good, but another twist of salt into the five-spice might have brought out the flavours even more.

As our plates disappeared we sipped our drinks, chatted away and just enjoyed the laid back air. The room was busy with couples, families and groups of mates just catching up. It had a comfortable feeling that made you want to linger.

For our mains I had stuck with the marine theme, choosing the sea bass. Good choice.

The fish was perfect, the skin seared and crispy and the flesh white and flakey. It came with two seared scallops – foot on – that were plump and delicious.

The sea bass was a work of art on a plate, with some serious talent in the kitchen of The Creel Inn.

Another star on the plate was the serving of kale, shot through with salty pancetta. The greenery was a great mix of crunchy and soft veg. It was allied with boiled potatoes that must have come from the field next door, they were so fresh, tasting like tatties did when you were wee.

Binding all this together was a lush crab bisque, with bright sweet notes and a real depth of flavour that made me want to just spoon it all up.

This was one of those dishes that you didn’t want to end. When it did, there was the dilemma off finishing off with those tatties mashed into the bisque or the last morsel of fish or that last wee bit or scallop.

The scallop won.

Across the table there was a roast chicken feast going on. This was from the specials board and was very special indeed.

The rustic atmosphere of The Creel Inn is made for cosy dining.

A groaning plateful of food there were two hearty slices of the most tender chicken breast, plus a drummer to keep them company. They were slathered in a dark, glossy gravy that was packed with flavour.

The veg it came with was, again, about as fresh as you could get. Plenty of parsnips, tenderstem, carrot and green beans, as well as roast and mash tatties to mop everything up.

The roast chicken had been ordered with the stuffing in mind and it was a delight, comforting with a peppery kick.

Delicious food is a delight at The Creel Inn.

The Verdict

We might have been inspired to head for the Creel by Joan Eardley’s paintings, but both of our main courses were works of art on a plate, courtesy of some outstanding talent in the kitchen.

This really was a special meal in a special place and, as we headed back up the coast, we agreed not to wait as long again for a return visit.


The Creel Inn, Catterline, AB39 2UL

Price £60.35