Well, we are now in March, nearly a year since the word normal was blown out of the water.
This time last year we were developing our dishes and looking forward to the upcoming early spring forage for use in our dishes. Then, well… we all know what happened and no need for us to labour a point, we want to look forward to what the fresh shoots of spring will bring this year.
Last year we adapted and you supported us. Our @home and carry oot menu’s helped to get us through. We have spent the time since Christmas reviewing the last year and trying to find our path for 2021.
You will have noticed we are closed at present. That is partly due to financial constraints, it is tough for all the businesses in our small area to survive on takeaways. However, we have also taken time to refocus, review and plan.
Mr Pook’s Kitchen opened to provide Castle Douglas Food Town with a new type of fare, to add a new dimension to the town’s current offering. This year, we want to build on our original foundations, get back to the core of providing fine dining in Dumfries and Galloway.
When we are able to open again, it goes without saying, we will ensure all covid rules are followed to keep our customers and staff safe.
We are working on a new fine dining menu, but cannot finalise this as we don’t know what will be in season we reopen.
Hopefully time will fly by really quickly until we can welcome you back again.
We love to serve – and now we can from our private sun trap
So, we have all had to adapt over the last few months and try and find a new “normal” (if there ever was such a thing anyway!).
We don’t have a designated ‘beer garden’ here at Mr Pook’s, it is just a concrete car park. However, with the consent of our upstairs neighbours, Bell Ogilvy, and an extended alcohol licence, from today, Friday 10th July we have opened up outside sun trap to offer you ‘Mr Pook’s Outside Dining’.
This coming weekend is looking good, but obviously each week it is dependent on the Scottish weather. We will take bookings for tables with 48 hours notice. The word unprecedented has been used a lot in the media throughout this pandemic and we think that has included the weather to date… it was glorious for a few weeks… so we are hopeful the rain remembers to stay away, at least at the weekends!
At the moment we will be serving our Carry Oot menu in our outside space, with some specials for you to come out and enjoy with cocktail, cold beer, or glass of whatever you fancy in the Scottish sunshine.
We are continuing to run our Carry Oot and eat@home menu for those who aren’t yet ready or able to be around people, even socially distanced in accordance with guidance.
We have yet to set a date for opening the inside of the restaurant, so to be the first to know, sign up to receive updates from the kitchen.
We have a great, strong community here in the Stewartry and Dumfries and Galloway at large and at Mr Pook’s we want to try our best for everyone during these unprecedented times.
In the next few days we will be lauching a home delivery and take away service, so if you don’t wish to come into the restaurant, you still have options other than just pasta and tinned tomatoes!
We are also putting in place a Pay if Forward scheme, where you can buy a meal for someone in our area that is in need. As Ed explains in the video, we are working with local charities to makes sure the right help reaches the right people.
We are proud of the support our community gives us and want to give as much back as we are able to in the coming weeks and months.
This time two years ago we weren’t getting set up for Valentine’s Day, we were busy with renovations and the fit out of the Restaurant and Bottle Shop here in Castle Douglas.
This Valentine’s Day we are preparing for another change, Chris Bain of The Bottle List is setting up a new business on King Street with his partner Lynsey Hogg, so here at Mr Pook’s we are left with the space that once housed The Bottle List and are looking at ways to re-purpose the space. We wish Chris and Lynsey the best of luck in their new venture.
We are going to start by using the space as a private dining area and our aim is to open up a bar area, so that you can pop in for a glass of wine or a cocktail, whether you are dining with us or not. You can still buy a bottle of wine from us to take home with you and enjoy.
The first step towards re-purposing the former Bottle Shop
Any suggestions you have for the space would be most welcome.
Over the last couple of summers, since I moved to Dumfries and Galloway, I have been building my knowledge of the local foraging. I have been collecting a range of sweet, savoury and sometimes unusual ingredients.
Working with Mark Williams from Galloway Wild Foods, I have slowly increased my knowledge base and confidence with foraging around the Solway Coast.
The summer months bring more of a coastal flavour with samphire, sea purslane, dulse and other assorted seaweeds. These allow me to add elements to dishes you may not have tried before and bring a real hit of the coast to various fish dishes. The seaweeds are of particular interest. I hope to use it to bring an oriental twist to certain dishes. The famed Japanese stock dashi can be re-created without expensive imports in both cost and food miles.
Start of Mushroom Season
From now, heading towards mid-summer the first chanterelles begin to appear. Known as summer gold they are easy to identify and bring not only a big flavour but also a stunning colour to dishes.
Working with Mark I have been expanding my knowledge of the mycelial world and although there are many that I would personally eat and experiment with, only the tastiest and most easily identifiable will make it onto the menu. I like stretching peoples palette and knowledge, but I understand there are limits. If you enjoy the small touches on the dishes, please speak to me in the kitchen. I am always willing to share my knowledge and if you are interested. I may even have some other tastes available to push your pallet slightly further!
We’ve been open over a year now, so time for new photos and to get some interior shots so that we can start to let the world get a better glimpse of the inside of the restaurant.
To do this we employed the skills of Kim Ayres, local photographer to help capture the atmosphere and our personality. Joined by staff, family and a few customers we had a great afternoon and managed to get a great selection of shots. We will be updating our online presence gradually, but until then, please enjoy this short video that lets you see just some of what goes in to a good photo!
After a much longer process than planned we finally received an early Christmas present and signed the lease on our new home at the Clydesdale Bank in Castle Douglas in late December 2017. The phrase all good things comes to those who wait has been a mantra for some time as the idea of my own restaurant and team has been a 20-year dream so a few months delay was a drop in the ocean.