Dinner at The Boarding House
Fancy dining out on some hearty value-for-money food in a relaxing atmosphere? Then let Juliette Jones be your guide to this splendid village eatery.
The Boarding House is a treat from the get-go. Arrestingly, it used to be a coach and horses inn which opened in 1770. You’ll find it in leafy Howwood, a village situated in between Johnstone and Lochwinnoch which looks like it belongs in the better class of BBC daytime drama.
We were greeted by the friendly knows-his-drinks barman, who was happily mixing and pouring from behind a smart, well-stocked chrome bar in the Ale House section. Look to your left, though, and you’ll see that the main eating area has a more traditional but smart feel: there are pleasant dark wood tables and chairs nesting amongst interesting wall art.
The Boarding House is laden with nooks, crannies and off-rooms: it’s probably quite easy to tell that it was once an inn. Something about the layout, pleasingly so, gives the impression of the ghost of a late ‘80s/early ‘90s hostelry, an impression probably helped along by the background music which spins its way through The Style Council and OMD.
It’s perhaps a place where, say, The Associates might have gladly visited to celebrate chart success. There’s a restful feel, too, with a pleasant hotel-y ambience that Alan Partridge can only dream of lounging around in.
The Boarding House prides itself on its hearty, value-for-money food, something that chimed with our lovely set menu of chicken parfait, macaroni cheese (haddock mornay for my dining partner) with garlic bread and millionaire’s shortbread dessert (£18.95). These delicious meals were flanked with a mellow Pinot Grigio (£4.50) and followed up with a cup of tea (£2.20).
It’s sometimes easy to feel like you’ve outstayed your welcome if two waiting staffs change shifts towards the end of your course, but ours passed the baton with ease and we were made to feel like we were welcome to stay until the doors closed.
Sipping my cup of tea, my mind wandered to the space upstairs, which turns out to be a series of function rooms and a roof terrace. Thoroughly recommended, and a nice change of pace from the big city.
The Boarding House, Main Street, Howwood, PA9 1BQ, 01505 703 119. This feature was published in Mill issue 5, May/June 2019.