“ Inn & restaurant near Stonehaven in Aberdeenshire serving bar and restaurant meals / Location: Netherley, Nr Stonehaven Aberdeenshire Scotland AB39 3QS „
The Lairhillock Inn is located in Netherley, in rural Aberdeenshire near Stonehaven and Portlethen. It is easy to find from either town as it is signposted from the A90, however due to its location public transport is not an option - you'll need to drive or take a taxi.
The Lairhillock is a country pub, with a roaring log fire in winter, a large conservatory and traditional decor. The adjacent Crynoch Restaurant is highly rated, however I have never been there so this will focus on the Lairhillock itself.
"We're going to the Lairhillock" is a sentence which, in my family, means a treat. We like to go out for a nice meal when I go to visit my parents in Aberdeenshire, but usually we go to one of the pubs in Stonehaven. When I was there in November we went to the Creel in Catterline, which was a treat, so when I was told we would go for lunch at the Lairhillock during my recent visit, I was pleasantly surprised.
I've been to the Lairhillock on a couple of previous occasions over the years, although my parents have been more often. I remember good food, a warm pub and a lovely open fire. I was really looking forward to our lunch...
My first glance at the menu brought a surprise - the prices are really very reasonable, no higher than most pub meals. However my second look brought some disappointment - nothing jumped out at me as looking particularly special. It actually took me a while to decide what to order, and I did feel disappointed that nothing was really making my mouth water. There was plenty on the menu to choose from, including a few fish and vegetarian options for me, lighter meals such as baguettes, and plenty of meat choices. I ended up choosing fish and chips, which was actually from the specials board; given that it is a pub staple, I expect it will be a regular special. My mum went for roast chicken supreme, and my dad for Cajun steak burger. We decided not to have starters.
When the meal arrived, my fish looked as if it might be a little on the crunchy side. However a swift prod of the fork revealed it to be nice and tender. The fish was served with what were clearly home made chips and a side salad. The most interesting thing on the plate was the tartare sauce - not only was it homemade, it was served in an edible filo pastry shell! The fish turned out to be delicious, the breadcrumbs not too crunchy, the fish tender but not undercooked, and a generous size without being too much. The chips were also very good, as was the tartare sauce. Once I had finished I tried the filo pastry case, which was nice but a bit too saturated in tartare sauce! My mum was very happy with her chicken, and my dad with his burger - which was a spectacular size, about twice the thickness of a decent supermarket burger.
Having polished off my plateful, I was thinking I wouldn't have pudding. But of course we had to look at the dessert menu, and of course I ended up with something...my mum had some kind of fancy apple pie, and I chose mango and passionfruit chessecake, thinking it would have a refreshing fruity flavour without being too heavy. Sadly, there was very little flavour to it - it wasn't unpleasant, but it just had no flavour, which was a real disappointment.
The Lairhillock always has a few real ales on offer, and my dad chose to sample Misty Law - and it must have been good as he had another half pint. My mum and I stuck to soft drinks.
As I've mentioned already, the decor of the Lairhillock is very traditional - bare stone walls, old farming implements and a mixture of unmatched wooden furniture, yet it all fits in perfectly. This is exactly the kind of country pub I like. The toilets are clean and well supplied, although they could do with some modernising.
The service at the Lairhillock is attentive, friendly and efficient, and just the right balance of all three. The staff don't hover over you or pressure you to hurry up and order, but they are always there when you need something.
Despite my lack of excitement over the menu and the disappointing cheesecake on this last visit, I still think the Lairhillock is a great place for a tasty meal, whether it's for a special occasion or just because. All in all, I would highly recommend a visit to the Lairhillock Inn if you are in the area - the food is good, the prices are reasonable, and it is a very pleasant environment to enjoy a relaxing meal.