ROBBIE, aka Sir Ranulph, is holding court from the brown leather armchair, while Gibbo, aka the Tiny Tycoon, is extolling the virtues of a blondie – a new type of chocolate brownie, actually – and I’m at the door of The Bay Kitchen and Stores, phone in hand.

They are chatting with a local couple about the Whistlebinkies; the famous Mick Broderick, who lived right here in Whiting Bay; about how good this place is with its Little House on the Prairie buzz. My chat is about whether either the high road or the low road will get us to Blackwaterfoot in the 25 minutes that I kind of suggested to the restaurant, honest injun, is all it would take for us to be there. Answer: neither.

I drag them out anyway. Reluctantly leaving the best hangout spot on Arran to twist and turn and generally rollercoaster here and there while my two would-be mountaineer chums recount just how grim it was as the rain beat down on Glen Rosa today. Sigh.

Meanwhile I’m twitching about just how long they’ll keep that table for us at the Black Grouse. I did kind of wheedle us in on the grounds we’d be straight there.

Long enough, it transpires, because say 60 minutes later we’re eating plump, moist and lightly grilled mackerel on the bone, scooping forkfuls of garlic and chive potato salad, a sweetly lurid heritage carrot puree in the background.

We’re in the conservatory of a Victorian lodge that sits at the top of the hill that takes you down to the village. Robbie – because he’s only being called Sir Ranulph for our entertainment – is right now uploading the piping results from the Luss Highland Games direct to his Piping Press website via the wi-fi while a Thai spiced broccoli soup cools before him.

If I tell you that later we’ll be relaxing on the button-backed leather suite in that crusty lounge next door, reading aloud extracts on the Arran of the 1930s from the unexpectedly entertaining Hugh Quigley tome The Highlands of Scotland, then you’ll probably know we enjoyed the vibe and especially the handmade-on-the-premises firm, juicy and perfectly gamey venison sausages with a lime creme fraiche.

Don’t think, however, that the chef enjoyed my request to change the sweet potato sides to good old-fashioned chips and one of the two friendly blond brothers who run the Black Grouse later came back with the news that, no, I couldn’t have curry sauce too. That curry sauce actually came with the pan-seared pollock, garlic mussels and roast fennel that my companions both ordered. And I would have ordered it too, were it not for the fact in restaurant reviewer world we can’t all have the same thing. Seriously.

The sauce would actually have been better with the sausages which tasted as though they had a smattering of cumin through them. As for the pollock? It’s good and Gibbo praises it, though he is in the relentlessly upbeat world of public relations. Curry sauce and fennel puree, though? No. The whole dish is just far too saucy, kinda drowning the flavour of the fish. Never mind.

A spectacularly and perfectly light souffle arrives to finish things off, while I have something called jaffa cake. This is a cheffy deconstruction that is dark and deep and relentlessly rich, apart from the strange unappetising spongey bits on the side. I can’t finish it and it only goes to prove you can have far too much of a good thing.

There’s also a strawberry sorbet with strawberry jelly, strawberry coulis and white chocolate mousse, which is hard to fault save to say it looks exactly the same

as the tomato sorbet Gibbo had to start. Such is life.

We had hunted high and low for somewhere with a heavy local twist to eat in Arran having had pub food last night in scampi land. This was a last-minute find. And a good one.

The Black Grouse

Blackwaterfoot Lodge, Blackwaterfoot, Arran (, 01770 860202)

Menu: Fine dining buzz with a heavy emphasis on Scottish, if not always Arran ingredients. There's a pretty good bar menu too. 4/5

Atmosphere: It's a comfortable Victorian lodge with leather seats and stag's antlers and a bright conservatory for dining in. 5/5

Service: They squeezed us in at the last minute and didn’t complain when we were late. The owners help serve tables. Hard to fault. 5/5

Price: Starters and desserts weigh in at around the £7.50 mark, mains hover on either side of £20. 3/5

Food: Scottish food prepared to a high standard with imagination, maybe occasionally too much imagination. 7/10

Total: 24/30