The last time I was in the Claremont Inn in Polmont, the pub was dingy, had pool tables and I was several years too young to be in there.
So I was taken aback to see how the bar and restaurant in the village Main Street has changed when I visited with a friend and my son last week.
Now, the Claremont Inn is a modern, gastro-pub serving home-cooked style meals all day long.
The decor is modern-Scottish with tartan, wood and tasteful art.
It’s a world away from the sticky carpets and under-age clientele I remember from my youth.
The Claremont is run by couple Gregor and Audra McIntosh, who also have The Dutch Inn in Skinflats and The Hollybank in Stirling.
They took over the pub two years ago and have constantly renovated it.
The restaurant recently switched to serving food seven days a week, all day long from noon to 8.30 p.m.
So I met my friend for lunch after taking my son to Mini Gyms round the corner at Polmont Sports Centre.
The lunch menu is extensive, so much so that we spent a good 10 minutes trying to decide what to get. And then a further five minutes when we both chose the same dish – not ideal for a review.
During the day, The Claremont serves lighter meals such baked potatoes and paninis and salads as well as pub meals like steak pie and macaroni.
The children’s menu had all the usual suspects and the all kids choices included a juice and ice cream.
The restaurant is very family friendly and made my two-year-old son feel very welcome. He got his own plastic cutlery and they served him his meal as soon as it was ready – a huge plus when your child takes 50 minutes to eat a hot dog.
My tuna panini ticked all the right boxes, served with a side salad and fresh chunky chips while my friend’s fish and chips was enormous. The plate it was served on was more like a platter than a dish and the fish, mushy peas and salad took up so much room, the chips were served on a separate plate.
The Claremont does comforting pub food, and does it well with huge portions and friendly service.
The good sized beer garden, although in the centre of the village, makes clever use of space and fencing to make it a tranquil place to spend a few hours enjoying an ale or wine.
There is plenty of parking in the car park opposite and the venue regularly hosts music nights and has special menus for occasions such as Valentines’ Day and Christmas.
There are also daily specials and the kitchen use fresh local produce whenever possible.
While village pubs are closing in their droves, The Claremont is going strong. It’s a good local pub, serving good food and dishing up great service. Just what every village needs.