Probably the closest I’ve ever got to being on an actual cruise is the Calmac ferry from Ardrossan to Brodick. Half close your eyes, switch off the temporal lobe, listen to the breeze, and you can almost hear Jane McDonald humming the theme from Titanic.
Anyway, Cruize Bar Brasserie is one of the Auchrannie resort’s three eateries. It opened in the early noughties.
A month or so since a makeover, you can still smell the fresh paint, and note the un-scuffed floorboards and clean soft furnishings. It’s like they’ve just stripped back the cellophane, despite it being a family-friendly space, with a soft play room for the sprats.
Although there seemed to be a Lord of the Flies-esque scenario panning out in that padded cell, it was sweet relief to decant the nieces (aged three and six) here. We only had to see them when they came back to spill a drink, Hoover up some macaroni or rat on one of the bigger kids.
The grown-ups could zone out and eat. Good, because we needed to concentrate on the starter.
The Sharing platter (£15.95 for two people) was maybe a prosaic choice, but Arran law dictates that, while on the island, one must eat one’s bodyweight in cheese.
Although we had recently overheard someone on the island protesting that Torrylinn Creamery is the “real” cheese-maker on the island, you can’t go wrong with a bit of Arran Cheddar, and this featured four fat wedges.
There was also loads of Argyll Smokery smoked salmon and a hot smoked version, a clutch of variously coloured olives, a dozen oatcakes, practically a whole loaf of sliced ciabatta, a couple of syrupy balsamic dips and some great chutney, lumpen with raisins.
More than enough for the three of us. Happy.
We didn’t really need the super salad (£5.65 for our small version, £9.80 for medium, £10.85 for large) as well, but I wanted to try something from their new selection of healthy eating bits and bobs. It was a goodie, with commas of quinoa, enough hummus for a week of sandwiches, and shrubbery including edamame beans, cucumber, tomato, beetroot, endives and a zingy dressing.
We chose a trio of hearty mains to cancel out that goodness. The chargrilled Ayrshire pork tomahawk (£16.50) was the size of a ping-pong bat, with a large dollop of mash that was riddled with bits of black pudding.
There was also a sprinkling of crispy bacon dust and some bright green broccoli. This could power you up Goatfell no bother.
As could the black pudding and chorizo risotto (£13.50), which had the sweetness of leek to lift the burlyness of the meaty ingredients and a perfectly spherical poached egg on top.
This option came with a couple of slices of garlic bread too, should you also want to drag an anvil up the aforementioned Corbett.
My Scottish salmon fillet (£15) was simple but well rendered, with nibbly bits of chorizo, a fizzily crispy skinned piece of fish, potato wedges that were saturated in the meaty paprika and tomatoey oil, and more broccoli.
Their pudding choices aren’t going to send you into raptures of excitement. Still, a good cube of sticky toffee pudding (£6.15) in a sugary pool of sauce as deep as Arran’s average annual rainfall isn’t to be sniffed at, especially when accessorised with a scoop of Arran Dairies vanilla ice-cream.
The discus of vanilla cheesecake (£6.50) was good too, with satisfyingly whipped, sticky and crunchy levels, plus a side scoop of pumpkin seed punctuated “granola” and the contrast of an acidic berry compote.
Although the food here may seem a little expensive for a casual bistro, that’s Arran overheads for you. They have to import some ingredients from the mainland and fuel costs are higher, so we’ll let them off with the slightly steep bill.
You know, I think Cruize is pretty fantaztic.
Lunch for three, excluding drinks, £79.25
Auchrannie Resort, Isle of Arran
(01770 302234, www.auchrannie.co.uk)