Restaurant review

Creel Inn cooks art on a plate at Catterline

Joining the dots can be an art form, especially when the end result is something you didn’t plan for, but end up thoroughly enjoying.

In this particular case I noticed that Aberdeen Art Gallery had an online exhibition celebrating the brilliant artist Joan Eardley and then remembered that she had done much of her work around Catterline which led me to realize we hadn’t been to The Creel Inn for dinner in ages.

The dots joined, it was time for a quick phone call, grabbed a table and we were up the coast to the lovely pub and restaurant which sits on top of a cliff overlooking a stunning seascape.

The Creel Inn is a destination place for good food.

No wonder Joan loved the place and its light. We didn’t linger for the views, though. Our landscape was food. Well, a cheeky little beer first, then some food.

The place

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

The chatter over – but not before clocking the good Belgian beers in the fridge – we were shown to our table.

The dining room was cozy, with a roaring gas fire in the middle of the space, which was made up of plastered walls and wooden beams. Rustic well done.

Crab bruschetta as a starter.

So was the menu. Unpretentious – one starter has just been named “duck” – with an emphasis on local produce, whether from the field or from the sea.

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

We didn’t wait long for our food to arrive, alone with a tonic for Mrs. B and a Westmalle Dubbel for me. I told you the Creel had good beers.

The food

The crab was what it said on the box, a slice of savory bread topped with crab and chives. The white meat was deliciously delicate and the side salad and arugula added crunch. However, the whole thing was thrown off balance by the balsamic. It overwhelmed the subtle crab taste which was a shame.

Simply duck came with a symphony of flavors at the Creel Inn in Catterline.

The duck, however, set the flavors on fire. It had a five spice coating that brought out the flavors of the breast meat while a bit of marinated fennel added a nice peppery zest. A raspberry mousse on the side brought a welcome sweetness while the asparagus tips were a nice touch.

Everything was good, but another touch of salt in the five spices could have brought out the flavors even more.

As our plates disappeared, we sipped our drinks, chatted and enjoyed the relaxed air. The room was occupied by couples, families and groups of friends catching up. There was a feeling of comfort that made you want to linger.

For our dishes, I had remained on the marine theme, choosing the bar. Good choice.

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

The bar was a work of art on a plate, with some serious flair in the kitchen at The Creel Inn.

Another star on the plate was the portion of kale, drizzled with salted pancetta. The greens were a great mix of crunchy and soft vegetables. It was allied with boiled potatoes which must have come from the nearby field, they were so fresh, they tasted like tatties when you were little.

Tying it all together was a lush crab bisque, with sweet, bright notes and a real depth of flavor that made me want to spoon it all out.

It was one of those dishes you didn’t want to finish. When it did, there was the dilemma of ending up with those tatties mashed in the bisque or the last bit of fish or that last little morsel or scallop.

The scallop won.

Across the table was a roast chicken feast. It came from the promotions board and was really very special.

The rustic atmosphere of The Creel Inn is made for a cozy meal.

A groaning plate of food, there were two hearty slices of the most tender chicken breast, plus a beater to keep them company. They were covered in a shiny black sauce full of flavor.

The accompanying vegetables were, again, about as fresh as they come. Lots of parsnips, tender stems, carrots and green beans, plus roasted and mashed tatties to mop it all up.

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

Delicious cuisine is a delight at the Creel Inn.

The verdict

We may have been inspired to head to the Creel by The paintings of Joan Eardleybut our two main courses were works of art on a plate, thanks to an exceptional skill in the kitchen.

It was truly a special meal in a special place and as we drove up the coast we agreed not to wait that long for a return visit.


The Creel Inn, Catterline, AB39 2UL

Price £60.35

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[Creel Inn rustles up works of art on a plate in Catterline]