MacLaomainn’s Scottish Pub (Chester, VT)

A few weeks ago I was driving to upstate New York, which involves the rather difficult process of negotiating Vermont, which lacks major East-West highways (while I love the scenery of Vermont, if they ever wanted to create an interstate heading across the state from either Bennington or Rutland, I wouldn’t complain). This time I went on Highway 7, passing through Chester, and used it as an excuse to visit MacLaomainn’s Scottish Pub, which I had noticed on several recent trips, but never had reason to stop in. Being 1pm and my not having lunch, stopping in for a late lunch seemed to be the order of the day.

Walking in, MacLaomainn’s has the “Scottish Pub” ambiance down pat, with a small, cozy seating area (maybe 30 seats?), wood fixtures, maps of Scotland, swords and daggers, and the obligatory tartan patterns adorning the walls (nothing goes with a good Scottish beer than some Black Watch tartan). They’ve also got a good selections of beers, ranging from local offerings to several Scottish beers. When I stopped in, this selection ranged from McNeil’s and Trapp representing Vermont, to Orkney and Belhaven representing Scotland. I opted for a Belhaven Twisted Thistle IPA, which I rather enjoyed. Your typical British-style IPA isn’t terribly hop-forward, and that’s the first thing I really noticed about Twisted Thistle: it was one of the highly-hopped in-your-face IPAs like we’ve gotten used to over here in the states. But the rest of the beer was indeed Scottish, using hops and malt profiles much more British-isles in nature (I can’t always places my hops correctly, but this tasted more of Challenger than the Cascade hops used in American IPAs). The result was a fairly pleasant blend of styles, one I’m going to keep my eye out for on other taps around here.

Menu-wise, the menu is primarily Scottish pub food, with the obligatory haggis (actually, several varieties of haggis), various meat and potatoes dishes, scotch eggs, and the like. I ended up settling on the Mince and Tatties. A decent Scottish “comfort food” dish, Mince and Tatties is a pretty simple dish (minced beef and root veggies in a light gravy, served with potatoes), but as a relatively simple dish as a late lunch, it hit the spot. The mince was nicely seared and not greasy, the carrots soft but not mushy, and the gravely flavorful without being heavy or salty. Not the sort of dish that really challenges a chef, but they did a decent enough job of this that I’m looking forward to coming back and trying some more substantial dishes off the menu when I’m not in a hurry to get where I’m going. I’m certainly interested in stopping by again for another pint…

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