THE LEEBURN, Lee Burns Court, East Kilbride Tel:
HOT town, summer in the city ... you know the song. Trouble was, I was feeling the heat a little too much.
In my line of work, sometimes you need to get out of town ... fast.
I revved the Buick, the Moll threw herself into the passenger seat, and tyres sqealing, we made for the city limits.
Soon we were in open country and heading for the metropolis that is East Kilbride, Scotland's biggest town (the Moll is full of these trivia facts, take it from me).
Looked like as good a place as any to lie low for a couple of hours - now we just needed something to eat. The first place we came to was a modern-built pub called the Leeburn off the main road by the Whirlies roundabout.
We weren't looking to be picky, so we parked.
I was in expectation-management mode and resigned myself to a noisy evening of World Cup TV and maybe some pork scratchings. "Is it a family fun pub, Tec?" asked Toots testily. Not words that fill her heart with gladness. I kept shtum and ushered the little lady through the doors.
Hmm, a pleasant surprise - light and stylish. Business looked brisk, but the friendly restaurant manager found us a decent table, even though we weren't expected.
The menu looked like standard pub grub, but well-presented and very reasonably priced. We got two crisp white Pino Grigios in double-quick time while we checked it out. To start, I ordered a nacho and dips platter and Blondie went for the chicken liver pate. She always runs out of toast when she has that, so cannily also went for the tempting warm trio of breads with olive oil, blasamic vinegar and garlic butter. This place was turning out to be more switched on than I'd given it credit for.
The nachos came topped by a gurgling pile of chilis, sour cream and guacamole and were full of flavour. The Moll's pate was a generous, melting slab with onion marmalade on the side. Yup, the toast disappeared in a flash, and the bread was soon gone, too.
For mains, I went for the chicken goujons and a rack of barbecued ribs, and a switch to a glass of Merlot. Looked like Toots was driving us home. Our charming waitress (saddled with a badge marked Trainee, but you would never have known it) asked if I wanted a whole or a half rack of ribs. I lost my nerve and just had half. Big mistake. The chicken was tasty, as were the chunky fries and coleslaw. But the ribs were a showstopper - melting, tender and barbecued with just enough tangy, sweet sauce to let the flavour shine through.
The Moll's eye was caught by the Red Thai curry, which came with steamed white rice and a scattering of prawn crackers. It looked fab, and was spicy but subtle - Blondie must have liked it because she didn't try and steal any of my fries. A side of onion rings was a little late arriving, so we nibbled those while looking at the desserts. All this fresh country air was making us hungry, I guess.
Loosening our belts a notch, I ordered the chocolate brownie and the Moll went for the Eton Mess, with an Americano white coffee. She's on the hard-to-please side with coffee but said it was excellent, and the Eton Mess, a decadent mix of meringue, berries and whipped cream, disappeared in a flash.
Luckily, my brownie was a chocolate-lover's paradise. I had it 'a la mode' - with ice cream, which made a tasty contrast.
By now, the sun was starting to fade and I thought we could risk a return to the big bad city.
But at these prices, and with such a warm welcome, maybe it won't be too long before we skip town again. And next time, I'll order the full rack of ribs.
STARTERS: Chicken liver pate £4.49;
Nachos and dips £2.49
SIDES: Warm Bread trio: £2.99
Onion Rings: £2.49
MAINS: Thai red curry with rice and prawn crackers £9.49; Chicken goujons and half rack of BBQ rubs, fries and coleslaw £9.99
Eton Mess £4.49; Chocolate brownie and ice cream £3.99
2 x Pinot Grigio £10.18; 1 x Merlot £3.55
1 White Americano coffee £1.90