The Mill House, Ayrshire-based group Buzzworks latest venue, is situated on a corner, and its blonde sandstone exterior with its twinkling lights is very welcoming. It has been a great addition to the neighbourhood, with locals giving it a well-deserved thumbs up.
Says Kenny Blair of Buzzworks, “The reason we invested in the Mill House was really because Stewarton kept popping up in conversation with existing customers saying how great it would be if we brought our kind of business to the area. The conversations became frequent enough to warrant an investigation and when the Mill House became available we did some further research, plugged a few figures into a spreadsheet, completely ignored them and then went totally with our gut feel!”
As you come through the glass doors you can guess that you are in for a warm welcome, not least because the Buzzworks crew has learned that heating above the door is essential. The entrance itself, a square glass porch with large statement candles in foliage-covered cages, sets the scene.
Once into the venue, the bar is the immediate focal point. Unusually it has a very deep stained wood bar top, sitting upon a slightly angled bar, clad with tiny wee white hexagon tiles which turn into black 12 rows from the foot of the bar. The bar also boasts a built in cake display area, immediately below the bar top which boasts an array of fabulous looking cakes.
The roof is quite low in this area and is clad in wood as are the walls. It gives a whole new meaning to wood panelling – this venue boasts, at least, five different wood panelling effects but it has all been stained an off white colour. In fact off-white stained wood has not only been used on the walls, but for all the table tops too. It’s very American-New Hampshire in style.
The back bar features substantial wooden shelving – with a glass-back. The solid part of the back bar features a tiled wall (tiled with the same small hexagon tiles) and a round mesh steel artistic looking display. Above the bar runs a stainless steel glass rack. The lighting in this area comes from subtle inset spot lights, expertly angled, providing the right level of light to create the correct ambience.
Immediately opposite the bar are four small booths ideal for two people although, at a squeeze, they can take four. The grey leather fitted seating complements the grey patterned tiles on the floor immediately adjacent to the bar, although, in the main, the rest of the flooring throughout is stained pale grey wood. The craftsmen at Transition Interiors were obviously very busy here.
If you turned right as you came in you would have turned into a small dining area with two large rectangular booths with beige leather upholstery. The walls here are exposed stone, and the booths are ideal for family groups. There are also some small tables along the opposite wall.
Beside the bar, a couple of stairs takes you down into a cosy and intimate area, with a low ceiling. It boasts four semi -circular booths, upholstered in deep red. The area looks bigger because designer, Jim Hamilton, has used mirrored glass very effectively. It not only makes this area look bigger, but the back bar display is reflected in the mirrors too. It is certainly the place to dine if you want a bit more privacy, and a further romantic touch is provided by a row of coat hooks decorated with small wooden love hearts.
The main dining area in The Mill House is at the far end of the bar. The ceiling here is certainly not low, in fact, you see right up to the rafters which have been stained white and adorned with round bauble-like reflective lights – about 28 in total. Although they hang above the tables they are so high that there is no fear of bumping your head.
These walls too are mainly clad with wood. Behind the fitted seating which stretches the length of the room, the walls have a shutter-like appearance, and the wall behind the banquette has a couple of small windows with deep ledges and bespoke round candle cages. The fixed seating is a light grey/beige colour, in a smooth fabric which contrasts with the cable knit cushions that adorn it. The individual chairs are square-like and studded with a shimmery beige linen look.
The tables tops as I have already mentioned are all off-white stained wood but they sit on sturdy wrought iron pedestals. The focal point in this area is the fireplace which boasts a grate filled with wood logs and lots of burning candles. It’s a modern looking blonde fireplace with a light wooden plinth across the top on which rests a large square antique – effect glass mirror – the entire room is reflected in it.
The warmth is added by three substantial semi-circular booths which are the same rich red colour as the dining area behind the bar. Above each booth, which boasts a round table, there is a flat round brass light and immediately behind these booths, there is a private dining area which is split from the rest of the restaurant area by an almost transparent light grey curtain and a chain room divider.
The private dining area boasts a mammoth rectangle table and the lighting arrangement which hangs above it really is a piece art – it certainly draws the eye. This area also benefits from natural light in the shape of four small windows, which have diagonal patterned glass offering a bit of privacy from the outside pavement. This area also looks a lot larger due to the clever use of distressed mirrored tiles.
To the right of the restaurant is the open kitchen, and if you were in any doubt that it was a kitchen the display of wee pots and pans (without the handles) on the wall above it will leave you in no doubt. Immediately in front of the kitchen is a bespoke shelving unit which boasts an array of wine, and hanging champagne glasses. It has a mirror front and is slightly angled – it”s almost like a modern version of a French dresser, and the angle complements the angle of the bar. I’m not sure whether this is a practical addition or an aesthetic one!
You can enter the public bar from the main Mill House through a door in the area behind the bar, a few steps take you down into an area which has a completely different feel. Colin Blair comments, “This is my take on how a modern pub should look like.” The sympathetic refurbishment is designed to encourage its traditional regulars back. The bar top has remained the same, and sweeps round in an almost semi circular fashion. Exposed stone walls have been refreshed and complemented with dark green leather fixed seating and chairs. The bar stools have also been upholstered in the same dark green leather. The seating compliments the dark grey/green wood panelling which has been used throughout. It offers customers craft beer specials and has TV’s for sport with the added touches of candles and decorative window dressings. The bar also offers food although there is no table service, the menu is the same throughout the whole venue.
The Mill House certainly gives you a whole new take of the idea of a neighbourhood bar. It’s modern, yet cosy, contemporary and stylish. Buzzworks has definitely lifted (excuse the pun) the bar… It certainly was a risk investing this sort of cash in what really is a large village, but they have proved style and substance can pay off in a local market too!
Says Kenny, “We also have plans to expand out of Ayrshire and although Stewarton is still within the county boundary – it is near the edge of it!”
He concludes, “Business has been very encouraging in the first two months although we are experienced enough not to get carried away with the excitement of a launch. Ask us next November and we will give you a proper report on whether it has been a good move.”