When I moved to Ayrshire, one of the things I was most looking forward to was finding new places to buy and eat delicious food.
My first port of call was Ayr, and I’ve put together a walking tour for any foodies who might be visiting the town and want to know where to go.
For this tour I’ve only focused on places around the centre of town, south of the river. There are other places outside this area that I want to look into in the future, as well as many interesting places to eat in, which I hope to get to sometime.
Start Point: Ayr Bus Station
Head through the bus station travel office, and out the other side onto Sandgate. Cross the road to reach the first stop.
Location: Renaldo’s Italian Ices, 98 Sandgate
Category: Takeaway (ice-cream)/Shop
An amazing range of ice-creams including standard flavours and the unexpected such as Irn-Bru, Turkish Delight and Tablet (the sweet buttery Scottish confection I overdosed on in an earlier post). I had a McCallum Crunch (vanilla base, honeycomb toffee pieces and raspberry sauce), which was fine except for the very syrupy-tasting raspberry sauce, which lacked the intense flavour I was hoping for.
They also sell sweets, rock and chocolates, and there are a couple of places to sit and have a shake or sundae.
Head back out onto Sandgate, and continue along to Queens Court, on the right. Head into the arcade.
Location: Cookery Nook, Queens Court, 22 Sandgate
Although this shop sells cookware rather than food, I wanted to mention it as it has a corner stuffed with cake decorating supplies including icing colourings and flavourings.
Exit the arcade back the way you came, and continue down Sandgate.
Location: Robbie’s Drams, 3 Sandgate
I’m not a whisky (or even whiskey) drinker. I find the taste (and this is true of most alcohol) too strong, too harsh and just plain too alcoholic. However if I did drink whisky, this is where I would come to buy it, and it’ll certainly be a great place to buy gifts for other people.
As well as a wonderful selection of whiskies, you can choose from other drinks such as beer, wine and assorted spirits.
Cross Sandgate, and you’ll almost be at the entrance to Academy Street.
Location: Corney & Barrow, 8 Academy Street
My aversion to alcohol extends to wine too (aside from in cooking), but for lovers of the grape, this is the place to come.
Head back up to Sandgate, and continue a little further along until you reach the junction with the High Street. Cross over into the High Street, and stay on the right-hand pavement.
Location: The Daisy Cupcake Café, 15 High Street
Category: Café/Takeaway (cake)
When strolling around Ayr researching this post, I happened across this cute little café and was amazed. How had I never heard of it before?
It turns out it had only opened that very month, so keen to show my support I bought a mint choc chip cupcake to go.
H and I shared it on my return home, and agreed it was very good. The sponge was moist and not too airy, and the icing was just the right amount of buttery. The mint flavour didn’t overpower the chocolate, and as a result of the deliciousness of the cake, I’ve already been for a second visit, where we tried the cookies and cream cupcake and T had the teeny little chocolate vanilla one, pictured. Lovely all round.
Carry on up the High Street.
Location: Pollok Williamson Family Butchers, 23 High Street
A well-stocked shop with a good range of meat. I bought a piece of rump steak which I turned into a tasty toasted sandwich.
Cross over the road, and Old Bridge Street will soon come up on your left.
Location: Neet Wheat, 15 Old Bridge Street
A compact health food shop where you can buy spices by weight, making them much cheaper than from the supermarket.
Exit back onto the High Street, cross over and continue walking up it as it changes into Alloway Street.
Location: McGowans, 34 Alloway Street
A small butcher’s shop with all the basics you’d expect.
Exit the shop, cross over the road, and carry on up Alloway Street, then bear round to the left.
Location: Polska Chata, 47 Burns Statue Square
This is a very new shop specialising in Polish products. It is a real wonderland of unusual treats, and while most of the packaging is in Polish, there is often enough English to at least get an idea of what you are buying.
There is also a fresh foods counter with meats and cheese, and a refrigerated section. I plan on doing some serious food exploration here when I have some spare cash!
Exit the shop and head back the way you came, continuing back down Alloway Street.
Location: A Picken and Sons, 27-29 Alloway Street
Part of the space is taken up with a bakery, but there is a large meat counter. After seeing a sign by the ham hocks (spelled houghs here) saying something like “great for lentil soup”, I decided to make a split pea and ham soup from one, and it turned out really well.
Cross back over the road and head on down until you rejoin the High Street. Continue walking until you reach the Kyle Centre on the left, head in and go left, exiting out into the car park.
Location: Ayrshire Farmers’ Market, Kyle Centre Car Park (first Saturday morning of the month only)
I went here for the first time this month, and although there were only 7 or 8 stalls, we bought some lovely smoked fish, some buffalo meat and some creamy soft cheese. Definitely worth visiting, especially if you are already in town.
Head back into the Kyle Centre, and out the far side which brings you onto Carrick Street.
Location: The Electric Bakery, 8 Carrick Street
A crowded little shop with a large selection of bread, cakes and pies on offer. I tried some bread rolls, but plan on returning for a cheeky cake one day.
Head a bit further down Carrick Street.
Location: Chisholms of Ayr, 17 Carrick Street
This is a lovely place with a small but perfectly-formed cheese selection, including some local creations. An array of jars, meats, fresh and frozen produce make this a great stop on the tour.
Return back up Carrick Street and continue on down the High Street until you reach Newmarket Street on the left.
Location: West Coast Fisheries, 6 Newmarket Street
You’ll have passed this place earlier, but now’s the time to pop in. On my first visit, they had some Scottish soft fruit and Ayrshire potatoes for sale, as well as frozen and fresh fish. The selection is quite small, but I picked up some undyed smoked haddock which I turned into a fragrant kedgeree, and some very succulent Blairgowrie raspberries.
On another trip, we purchased some bacon and Stornoway black pudding. I’m not very keen on black pudding, but this one really helped change my mind, as it was crumbly and moist, with a mild taste.
Continue down Newmarket Street.
Location: The Dorris, 32 Newmarket Street
Category: Café/Takeaway (cake)
I am desperate to return here and have a total cake-out. There are giant sliced cakes, dainty little tarts and 5 or 6 different varieties of scone. I bought a date, walnut and ginger scone, which H and I shared the next day. It was still soft and light, with a good ginger taste although not very many pieces of fruit and nut.
I managed to pop back a few weeks later and H and I shared a tiny banoffee tart and a mini lemon meringue tart. Both were scrumptious, and we nearly ended up buying some of their larger cousins…
Carry on down Newmarket Street to the end, then turn left and walk up a bit until you find yourself back at the bus station.