Tea room of the month

Harbour Lights, Kirkcudbright.
Harbour Lights, Kirkcudbright.

OUR search for the best tearoom in Galloway continues this month with a visit to one of Kirkcudbright’s most popular cafes.

Over the next 12 months, the staff of the Gazette will be visiting various tearooms with the aim of choosing what is, in our opinion, the best tearoom in the region.

At the end of the year the overall winner will be presented with the handsome and prestigious Galloway Gazette Tea Cup trophy for 2012.

Harbour Lights is one of Kirkcudbright’s most popular cafes, and you could be forgiven for thinking this is due to its geographical location, on the main street of the artists’ town facing – you guessed it – the harbour.

One of the first cafes the visitor comes across when parking in the Harbour Square car park – and with attractive bay windows housing, for no obvious reason, a Dalek and Pinnochio – it’s the obvious choice for the thousands of tourists who return to the town each year.

But it’s not just the visitors who benefit from the home-cooked food, stunning paintings on the wall and view of the bustling town which has been much improved since the demolition of the former bus depot last year. As soon as you make yourself comfy on your seat inside (or outside, when the sun makes an appearance), you see many of the customers greet each other and chat about mutual friends as they pass each other coming and going, ordering their usual and calling thanks to the staff. It is surely the sign of a good establishment if it attracts return custom from locals.

Simple snacks such as bacon and egg on brown multi-grain rolls, and sandwiches with soup are available but it’s the specials board you must order from.

Vegetarian offers are available but the bangers and mash is a meal to die for.

The creamy mash with almost tangy sausages and a beautiful sauce with onions and herbs makes this a toe-warming meal to brighten up this dreich February.

The bean lasagne was another popular choice, judging by the empty plates lying around, and several parties chatting away were enjoying a basic teacake and cuppa.

But the pea and ham soup, a simple choice, had a certain kick to it and a thick, creaminess which you’d struggle to achieve in your own kitchen, I’m sure.

If you’re visiting with children, you will be requested to leave prams outside or fold them up as best as possible, as is now a common expectation in smaller premises owing to health and safety, but the windows are visible from throughout the cafe and this town is certainly not a hot-bed of crime.

It may be inconvenient for parents but it’s a rule which certainly makes for a more comfortable dining experience for them and others overall.

As a cafe, Harbour Lights is the ideal spot.

However, if you plan to spend a long afternoon catching up with friends, be aware there are no sofas or armchairs in which to recline and gossip.

Overall a scrumptious cafe with freshly-made food and a great outlook over this popular fishing town.