For a long time Falkirk was a culinary desert, with very few oases of good hospitality. If you wanted to get a decent meal you were left with the depressing trek to Edinburgh or Glasgow and the last train home.
The Falkirk Food scene is now a very different place, with a mind-boggling selection of independent coffee shops, cafés, bars, bistros and full on restaurants. People now travel into Falkirk for a meal and there is no sign of this trend ending.
Johnston’s are the current residents of a building that has seen many occupants over the years, some I have frequented, others I have not...
I ducked into Johnston’s on a Saturday lunchtime on my own except for a pile of paperwork and asked for a table I could spread out over. I was shown up to the great mezzanine where, had I not been too busy working, I could have watched Falkirk wander by. A great spot, but I was worried that being upstairs and all on my own I would be forgotten. On both counts I was wrong, I was served in both a very efficient and friendly manner and by the time I had finished my sandwich my tranquil haven was full of customers, including a very entertaining group of Beer and Burger aficionados from Denmark whose comments I could not help but overhear.
I wasn't looking for a big lunch so went for the BLT sandwich and a side of chips, all washed down with a diet coke. The drink arrived quickly and before I had got as far as opening my ledger and sharpening my quill, the food has arrived. The advantages of eating early and avoiding the rush!
The sandwich was making a valiant attempt to climb out of the wholegrain bread which was soft and delicious. If I was to be picky the bread was a bit too thin and like Dwayne Johnson's T-Shirts it was really struggling with containing everything inside.
The lettuce and tomato were both fresh and had a great crunch to them, whilst the bacon was crispy and had a lovely smoked taste to it, although maybe one more rasher would have been a better balance to the masses of salad and mayo.
The fries were piping hot, the skins on gave an extra level of bite and the insides were light and fluffy and you could tell that these has until recently been a potato, rather then the cheap frozen potato starch sticks some places serve as fries. The sprinkling of parsley and sea salt tossed through just demonstrated that extra bit of effort that the kitchen was making and worked well.
During my sandwich eating I was asked if I wanted another drink (I didn't) and if everything was OK (which it very much was). I also got to listen to the Danes discuss the provenance of Haggis, I think they genuinely believed it was a small mammal and then one begin to complain to the group that his cheese was mouldy, before it was pointed out that's why it was blue... bless.
I was impressed with the speed and friendliness of the service, which even as the place filled up seemed to remain the same for everyone else. The food was very good and little niggles aside very enjoyable. The whole lot, including the tip set me back less than £10 which I think is about right for a venue such as this. I look forward to returning and trying more of the menu.