Scotsman Review
Our criteria 
  • Ambience - It's important that a restaurant is inviting. We rate the decor, comfort and atmosphere.
  • Drink - Is the wine or cocktail list as exciting as the food, or does it fall short? Same goes for soft drinks. 
  • Food - We judge dishes on flavour, but also use of produce, cooking skill and presentation
  • Service - The staff and pace of a meal can make or break a meal out.
  • Value - From the food on the plate to service and surroundings, we check that you get what you're paying for.
March 1, 2019

Bonnie Badger, Gullane, restaurant review

Get lucky in East Lothian with a visit to Tom Kitchin's new 'pub with rooms', the Bonnie Badger, says Gaby Soutar

Reekin Rabbit, Scunnered Stoat, Havering Hedgehog, Sleekit Squirrel, Drookit Deer, Manky Mole.

There were probably a lot of potential names for chef Tom Kitchin’s latest venture.

I bet they’re glad they didn’t invite me to the brainstorming meeting, and that they chose to pay tribute to the underrepresented badger.

After all, the sight of one is supposed to herald the start of spring, and if brock passes over where you’ve just walked, they say it’s good luck. Anyway, I’m sure I heard a snuffle behind me when we passed through the entrance to this eatery, formerly The Golf Inn, though my other half has a deviated septum, so it could’ve been him.

As with Kitchin’s last opening, Edinburgh’s Southside Scran, the interior is drop dead gorgeous.

This kind of design seems a rare and precious thing, when so many places opt for the pale and stripped back look.

They’ve opened up the attic to expose double height ceilings and the original beams. We bagged a table by the open fire, with a Viking-esque chair that was slung with a ginger sheepskin, and an exposed red brick wall behind.

Before starters, I tried a “rhubard fancy” (£10). I’m not sure if that was a spello or if I’d missed some kind of Shakespearean reference.

Anyway, it was a short and very syrupy sweet cocktail that contained their homemade rhubarb and ginger gin, rhubarb liqueur and purée, lemon and vanilla, along with a ribbon of dehydrated rhubarb. Forsooth, it was very nice.

The à la carte menu looks deceptively prosaic. I bet haggis, neeps and tatties (£8.50) is a pimped up version, though I was too scared to order it in case I was wrong.

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Instead, I went for the chicken liver parfait (£8.50). Served in a Kilner jar, it was light as lotion and fruity, rather than feral. It came with some lightly tangy red cabbage on the side, and slices of fluffy white toast.

The bright orange pool of pumpkin soup (£6) was satisfying too, though simple and really just a backdrop for four crowdie-stuffed and salty fleshy tortellini, as well as toasted pumpkin seeds and crispy sage leaves.

I might have swerved the ham, egg and chips (£19.50) if the waiter hadn’t breathlessly and droolingly described the whole shebang to me.

He might get paid in this dish.

On a long wooden board, it featured a glossy and flaky ham hock, a mini pan that held an egg, with the white scrambled, mixed with breadcrumbs and whole grain mustard, a yolk in the middle and a flurry of chives on the top.

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In a separate ramekin, was finely cubed pineapple with a little coriander and spring onion, plus there was a pot of quadruple cooked and pine-dresser-coloured crunchy cornered chips. Hubba hubba.

My dining partner had gone for a special – the cod (£18.50). It was a beautiful piece of fish, on top of a pulped broccoli that was greener than a sea sick leprechaun, some broccoli tempura and charred cruciferous stuff, all topped with dry and salty crumbled toasted peanuts.

Since the sides at Southside Scran are seared in our memories as tattie nirvana, we also tried a side of chorizo potatoes (£4.50), which were waxy burnished skin-on fellows, with nuggets of sausage and peppery rocket.

We’re glad we didn’t leave without trying the treacle tart (£8) – a beautifully rendered classic, with a mouth coating-ly gooey middle and a dollop of clotted cream on the side.

I needed something palette-cleansing after my hammy feast, so went for the blood orange panna cotta (£8), which was striped, like the Cat in the Hat’s millinery choice. It came with a werscht blood orange sorbet, goosies of this fruit and a sour soup. So refreshing, like a cheeky dook into the Firth of Forth.

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Smashing food, in an especially special setting.

I suppose I’m a lucky girl, so unless it was a manky mole, that must have been a badger walking behind us.

Bonnie Badger Gullane

Main Street, Gullane

(01620 621 111,



Gaby Soutar is a lifestyle editor at The Scotsman. She has been reviewing restaurants for The Scotsman Magazine since 2007 and edits the weekly food pages.
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