THE ORANGERY AT SEAMILL HYDRO, Ardrossan Road, Seamill, Ayrshire TEL:
MY day was going from bad to worse. A stakeout wasn't turning out as planned and Toots, who had come along for the ride, was nipping my ear about scran.
"I could eat a horse! When can we stop for a bite?" piped up Blondie.
But I was hot on the trail of lowlife Louie who was wanted by a few people - including the schmuck who was paying my wages today.
We ended up on the Ayrshire coast. I was following closely on his tail but even I didn't suss Louie's next move when he jumped on to the Arran ferry.
We would have to wait it out as I knew he would have to come off the island at some point, so it seemed like an ideal time to keep the little lady happy and off we went in search of tuck.
It wasn't long before I spied the ideal spot. The Seamill Hydro, near West Kilbride, looked splendid and I could keep my eye on the return ferries to snare Louie.
The Buick pulled up and Toots rolled out. Clad in her fur coat and killer heels, The Moll was dressed for any occasion and she looked the part for this swanky place.
We were shown to their new eaterie, The Orangery.
It was already bustling and we were out of luck on a table in the conservatory, which boasts sea views, but we shown to a neat little one close to the bar.
Our server was soon over and we ordered up a couple of drinks while scanning the menu for some tasty scran.
It all looked a bit fancy for this ole gumshoe, but when my peepers honed in on fish and chips, I knew it would be a safe bet.
I ordered up the haddock, and crab spring rolls for a starter, while Toots, as usual, couldn't decide.
"Don't rush me Tec, I want to take my time," The Moll declared.
The waitress was hovering, but she gave us a few more minutes. and The Moll finally went for one of her favourites, chicken liver pate, followed by salmon
We sat back and relaxed while I sipped a crisp Italian vino.
I was beginning to forget we still had work to do as this joint lures you into a holiday feeling - just a shame I didn't bring a bucket and spade.
Dishes were flying out of the kitchen and the tempting smell was sending my taste buds into overdrive.
Our starters soon arrived. My peepers almost jumped out of my head.
Two generous, piping hot spring rolls were served up. They certainly delivered on flavour and were almost a meal in themselves.
Toots was tucking into her pate, oatcakes and relish.
"Sure is good here Tec," cried Toots as she cleared every morsel from the plate...and I am sure there was a pattern on it to begin with.
If that was round one, ding ding I was ready for round two.
Our mains were swiftly delivered and were a feast.
My haddock in black pepper breadcrumbs was moist and light and came with delicious fries on the side.
I couldn't have been more satisfied.
Toots, with her more sophisticated taste and palate, was served up a treat.
Salmon on crushed potatoes with a prawn and leek gratin sauce, looked a very elegant dish.
The Moll declared it a flavour sensation and was well impressed.
It was starting to look like this day was not going to be a total washout, as at least the Moll was happy.
We ordered up a couple of coffees to round off the afternoon. Fearing the worst I knew I couldn't put off asking for the bill for much longer and took the plunge.
To my surprise it came in at around £45, which seemed spot on.
It might not have been the day I had planned but it turned out well. And as for Louie - I looked up to see the return Calmac ferry in the distance. Looked like my ship was coming in after all.
Spring roll £5.95
Fish and chips £11.95
Salmon Fillet £12.95
White wine £3.90
Orange juice £1.55
Coffee £2.05 x 2