KILMARNOCK then. Very pretty when the sun shines and we’re ambling idly up Portland Road of a Tuesday lunchtime. We miss a turn, oops, retrace those steps, take a left into Grange Street, approach a darkened door, cold, unwelcoming, smoked glass.

Kevin points way high up on a wall where a sign of sorts hangs. “Looks like the right place anyway”. Yeah, “except it’s shut”, I reply, leaning on heavy chrome.

But, no, the door suddenly cracks open, and we wander in, curiously, into what looks like a pub with no drinkers...spooky.

There’s a pool table out there, empty too, and on again through more doors and now we’re in a full scale bowling alley. Crash, clack, slide, crash all over again. Life. Even on this November lunchtime there are people taking down pins.

OK, not many. But, hey, this is not what we’re looking for. Or at. What we’re looking for is still inside but over in the corner. Right there. And to my slack-jawed amazement it’s not only open; but the lights are fully on. And somebody is in.

This is like, wow, man, the culinary equivalent of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. It’s a Wimpy.

Now, if you like me thought the Wimpys with their plastic breakfasts and low rent burgers had been swept from the very face of this country 30 years ago by the unstoppable imperial tide of the voracious McDonald’s Empire you would be right. But not every single one. Oh no.

Out here, hidden in the back of a kind of cool leisure centre called The Garage, maybe like that Japanese soldier on the island, at least one Wimpy has survived. In fact not just one. There are others we’re told. On perhaps the outer margins of the Fast Food Galaxy. Dingwall. Fraserburgh and, er, that’s it. For Scotland anyway.

But here’s the somewhat amazing thing. We walk in expecting severe restaurant fatigue, tired dated decor, dog-eared menus but no. It’s like it’s the 1950s all over again (no, I wasn’t there) and Wimpy has just opened for the very first time.

There’s a chirpy, cheery lady behind the counter; the fittings and fixtures are fresh, the ambience is shiny, bright and smacks of well, crikey, brand new. Actually, there are TV screens behind the counter beaming up photos of what is on the menu, which I know they wouldn’t have had back in the day, but the point is that there is nothing tired, weary or forgotten feeling about this place.

In fact, we have just been given a brand new menu and the lady behind the counter says – when I ask if they do breakfasts all day – that they do. She thinks. Get that McDonald’s.

We slide into a slidey booth. “A man walks down the street, says why am I soft in the middle now, why am I soft in the middle?”. Yes, it’s Paul Simon on the sound system.

Remember him? Remember Al? A pause right here, folks, for a moment of truth. That nice, friendly, serving lady looks like she is on her own, with that new menu, and maybe some fryers, a microwave. Truth time: therefore our expectations are still low.

One Bendy and Cheese arrives, £4.95, an all day Sausage and Egg Mc oops not Mc just plain Muffin £4.70; A Wimpy Cheeseburger Meal £6.75, fries all round; A chicken Stack Meal, er, £8.95. Something called a two bottle upgrade will appear on the bill for £2. That’s presumably for the bottle of water and the Diet Pepsi.

And the food? Listen. It looks like the lady served us, then went through and cooked or assembled it all, then brought it out. It’s actually pretty good.

The burgers are clean, fresh-looking and tasty, the fries good, even the wacky Bendy (a sausage slashed to fit in a bun) is tightly assembled.

This is maybe what the very first fast-food burgers were like. Put together with care. Met with surprise.


36-40 Grange Street



01563 573355

Menu: The British burger chain that didn’t actually die, now modernised, but still with that wacky Bendy Burger, plus the usual suspects. 3/5

Service: Nice friendly lady behind the counter seemed to be doing everything herself – and doing it well. 5/5

Price: Certainly not 1950s at £8.95 for a Chicken Stack Meal, a fiver almost for the Bendy, maybe this is why Mickey D won? 2/5

Atmosphere: There’s a great bowling alley vibe, it’s a fresh-looking little burger place in the corner. We liked it. 4/5

Food: Take the kids and say once upon a time this was Britain’s answer to McDonald's, we had freshly put together fast food that was surprisingly okay. 6/10