There are few finer institutions than a community pub. They cater for all the major moments in life, be it a celebration, anniversary or remembering an absent friend.
The best examples will have friendly bar staff who remember your name and your tipple of choice - but also have a wit sharp enough to laugh if you ever start using ridiculous words like ‘tipple’ in their presence.
In places where the nearest restaurant or high street might be a fair distance away, it helps if a community pub also serves food.
These days, most of them do. I’ll avoid the old argument about whether pubs are for drinking or eating in for reasons of space.
At a time when many pubs are closing down, it’s good to see one doing well. The Auld Toll Tavern will need no introduction to the many people from in and around Grangemouth who have been visiting it for years.
The premises in Dalgrain Road remains a popular nightspot for locals and has long served food. As it was recently taken over by a new management team, I thought it was the right time for my first visit.
I was accompanied by my colleague Scott, who is no stranger to this restaurant page.
Such is his local fame, he’s even listed on the website of one well-known Falkirk institution - which shall remain nameless - as ‘The Falkirk Herald’s restaurant critic’.
Falkirk’s answer to A.A. Gill declared himself more than satisfied with his starter of garlic mushrooms. To say it was a generous serving is akin to declaring Lionel Messi looks good on the ball.
I must have been in a particularly unadventurous mood as I opted for garlic bread. That could also explain my choice of dining companion.
I hit it lucky when it came to the next course. Scott’s macaroni cheese looked inviting, but it couldn’t compete with my serving of scampi. I wouldn’t be surprised if the European Union was investigating a sudden depletion in fish stocks as a result.
The fish and chips looked excellent as well.
There are few certainties in life, but one is that you’ll never go hungry when eating at The Auld Toll.
As Scott and I both had to return to the office, we decided against dessert. Sleeping at one’s desk is not encouraged - but it’s never stopped the sports editor, mind you.
The Auld Toll serves a range of traditional favourites at great prices.
I struggle to think of another local with better value.
The Auld Toll Tavern
85 Dalgrain Road, Grangemouth, FK3 8HL