Our Man In Milliways: The George, Inveraray

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Man looking a bit unwell<br/>
after eating noodles

The George Hotel, Inveraray

Inveraray is a fine little town in Argyll, on the west coast of Scotland about an hour's drive from Glasgow.
The George dates back to 1770, and is a building with oodles of character. The front hallway opens into a stone flagged floor, off which lead a variety of different sized and shaped rooms for eating and drinking. The main restaurant area is in the conservatory at the rear, but food is also served at tables in the bar. In addition, there's a beer garden outside, in which you can enjoy either the rain or the midges. Sorry, but that's the only choice in Scotland.


We'd lunched here a few days before this full evening meal, and I'd been impressed then at the range of fare, focussing on local ingredients. For that light lunch I'd chosen the flaky and moist ramekin of potted Tarbert crab, spread in generous mounds on toasted sourdough bread. And I was not disappointed when we did sit down to an evening repast. Aside from the wonderfully tempting food descriptions, there was an extensive wine list including a full page of malt whiskies, and I was able to order a half litre carafe from a selection of decent house wines. From the specials board I opted for a seafood platter (£8.95), containing smoked mussels, rollmop herring, braden rost1 and smoked trout. And, joy of joys, not a red onion in sight! Dai is a fan of the Stornoway black pudding, and chose a starter of pork belly stuffed with this delicacy, served with a tangy home-made chutney (£4.95). Conformed carnivore that he is, he followed this with a big slab of perfectly cooked char grilled fillet (£17.95), which came with dauphinoise potatoes which were disappointingly slightly underdone, roast tomatoes with a breadcrumb topping, and some broccoli. His gravy was rich and piquant, but he felt it needed a bit of bread to mop it up. I had a plate of roast sweet potato and leek risotto (£6.95), which had an unctuous and comforting texture, as well as a rich nutty flavour from the veg. There was a dizzying selection of sweets on offer, including Belgian chocolate pave with after eight foam, white chocolate sauce and vanilla ice cream, as well as a selection of farmhouse cheeses and stilton. I resisted, though I was tempted by the array of dessert wines, ports and madeiras, but sweet-toothed Dai ordered and eventually got a white chocolate cheesecake with matching sauce, cream and vanilla ice cream.



As a place to stay it scores rather highly: the bedrooms are tastefully furnished and there's a range of styles of room to choose from. However, there's no air conditioning, and the room can become rather warm. Open windows will let in the noise of the passing traffic. The bar downstairs is buzzing, and there's often live music until the wee small hours, so don't come here if you're looking for a quiet retreat away from it all. There's limited parking in front of the old jail next door, and disabled access in the building is poor, with no lift and lots of tiny crooked corridors.

As a place to eat the atmosphere is undoubtedly warm and welcoming: our big old wooden table in the conservatory was lit with candles, which glinted off the huge wine glasses, and the stone floor and oak beams looked as if they had been there for 100 years. A more recent innovation was the full wifi access, so I was almost able to post this report directly online. On the minus side, there was no loo roll in the ladies toilets.

When we visited there was a weekend music festival coming to an end, and it appeared that there was a lock-in in the bar, where the landlord kept pressing us to take a wee dram. Which was nice.



The service was mixed: the restaurant staff were friendly and helpful, and seemed to be coping admirably with a party of about 20 blokes next to us which I guessed was a stag do. But they had to be reminded about the dessert, and over breakfast next day the waitress had trouble getting the contents of our full Scottish breakfast as ordered. On the plus side, you can have breakfast served in your room at no extra cost. The hotel reception staff were excellent, and even let me use their phone to send a message to my travelling companion who'd gone missing en route. 3/5


I would definitely go here again: the great food and genuine welcome, as well its ideal location as a base from which to explore this part of the world, are assuring its place on my list of recommended stopping points, whether for a hearty lunch, or an overnight stay. Value for money was extremely good: a double room with breakfast included, plus dinner, plus drinks, came to under £150. 7.5/10

Scale: 10 – George Best, 9/8 – George Harrison, 7/6 – George Orwell, 5/4 – George Formby, 3/2 – George Dawes, 1 – George from Rainbow

Our Man in Milliways


17.09.09 Front Page

Back Issue Page

This column is open to contributions from all members of the h2g2 community. All submissions are accepted on the basis that they are honest and unbiased, and all opinions expressed are those of the reviewers, who may not be professional restaurant critics. Send your reviews to the usual submissions address.

1Kiln roasted salmon fillet.

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