Old Loans Inn near Troon in Ayrshire can look forward to 2012 with a spring in their step after picking up “an unbeatable” top marks from Tam Cowan, Restaurant Critic of the Year, and are now in line to win the prestigious Hot Plate Award.
Cowan is the Daily Record’s award-winning restaurant critic and in 2011 he and three friends were blown away by their experience when they visited the SimpsInns venue in the village of Loans near Troon. As the review was published on New Year’s Eve it was a case of saving the best for last as the Old Loans Inn went to the top of an impressive shortlist vying for the Hot Plate Award.
“With an unbeatable score of 25/25, I can promise you it ticked all the right boxes,” said Cowan in reference to the only venue he awarded maximum points to in 2011. The Old Loans Inn moved above the likes of The Corinthian in Glasgow (24/25), Scotts Bar and Restaurant, Largs (24/25) and EE-USK in Oban (23/25).
“The food (comfort food at its very best) was sensational,” added Cowan. “The recession friendly prices (especially the £11.95 three-course menu that’s available 12-7pm seven days a week) were very welcome by the four of us enjoying the full works (plus wine and coffee) for £110.”
Cowan was taken, not only by the quality of food, but also by the service and ambiance of the family-owned business, which operates as part of the SimpsInns group based in the heart of Ayrshire. “Golf, frankincense and myrrh? Listen, at the risk of upsetting the Three Wise Men, the only gift I’ll be carrying next time I visit the Old Loans Inn will be a big shiny Hot Plate Award,” added Cowan.
(Incidentally Tam’s choice on the day was chicken tempura to start followed by the Old Loans Inn ‘Special Fish Supper’ and finished off with the Cinder Crunch for dessert.)
SimpsInns was named ‘Family Business of the Year’ at the 2011 Ayrshire Business awards, while the Old Loans Inn was named ‘Small Hotel of the Year 2011’ at the Golf Tourism Scotland (GTS) awards in St Andrews. And the Gailes Hotel was shortlisted as Wedding Venue of the Year at the VOWS Awards for an unprecedented fifth consecutive year. “All these wonderful accolades in 2011, it’s recognition for the huge team effort and emphasis we place on quality of product and service across all our venues,” explained Malcolm Simpson, owner of SimpsInns. “We were also fortunate to open our latest venture, The Waterside at Seamill, West Kilbride, last October and it continues to go from strength to strength despite these economically straitened times.
“To have received the awards that we did in 2011 was fantastic, but for the Old Loans Inn to be singled out as the only venue to get maximum top marks by Scotland’s leading food critic really did end the year on a high. “For that, special mention must go to all the team involved. Cheers, and here’s to a great 2012,” added Simpson.