Making a dash for the Scottish border proves to be hungry work, however a pub lunch at The Cross Inn in Paxton makes the effort worth it, says Catriona Thomson.

What did you do on 31 January, the day to end all days? Did you wave your flag of choice, symbolising your viewpoint and marking your territory?

I pretended it wasn’t happening and headed down the A1, to stock up on one of my favourite comestibles (Doddington cheese). Just in case it becomes hard to acquire, once the barriers and walls go up.

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It turns out that stockpiling is damn peckish work, as we only just manage to make it back over the Scottish border, to Paxton, before nearly passing out from hunger.

En route, we spot a roadside way marker proclaiming the end or beginning of England’s reach depending on your particular angle.

Paxton is a small hamlet near Berwick; it is a not much to see, typical estate village. It is situated just down the drive, out of sight of the big house.

A place that time seems to have forgotten, old-fashioned and quaint. We notice only one house with a concrete bulldog sculpture outside, fearlessly guarding its gate.

The Cross Inn Paxton

The interior of the pub

 

We also discover that this village was the birthplace of Mary Jane Reddin, born in 1870. She travelled to China in 1899, full of missionary zeal and got married to fellow Scot, James Dunlop Liddell.

You might have heard of her son, Eric Liddell, who was the hero of the 1924 Paris Olympiad. A chariot of fire who refused to break the sabbath to run in the heats for his best event, the 100-yard dash. He chose instead to compete in the weekday 400-yard race, which he of course won.

Back to the present day, we find ourselves in Paxton to sample the fare at the Cross Inn. In times gone by, this place, along with the kirk, would have been at the heart of the social scene.

First impressions are favourable, well presented, cosy, tastefully decorated with muted paint tones. A colourful striped carpet, fairy lights, hunting horns and other outdoor paraphernalia complete the country living look.

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A friendly member of staff shows us to our table, but as if by magic several diners all appear at the same time. The fella quickly orders a pint of Landlord because we know there will be a bit of a wait, but hey, we aren’t in a rush.

Lunch and evening meals are catered for here with a real mix of local, traditional and international dishes, really something for everyone.

We settle for starters of haggis bon-bon – well we are in Scotland – with wholegrain mayonnaise and the soup of the day, spiced cauliflower.

When the dishes eventually arrive my broth is served in an earthenware pottery dish with a handle like the snout of a soup dragon.

The floret-packed soup has rich cumin notes and is hot enough to melt the cockles of my heart. A whorl of green pesto oil provides contrast, with the crispbread croutons adding texture.

Spiced cauliflower soup of the day.

There are two slices of oat-topped bread and butter to dunk on the side. The verdict? Smooth and moreish.

The fella’s haggis dish is a success, with flavoursome mouthfuls drizzled with mayonnaise mustard served accompanied by a tumble of fresh leaves beside the bon-bon tower. Rocket gives heat and beetroot leaves add colour, but there isn’t much of a dressing.

Kitchens can take a while to catch up with orders so I feel for the couple who arrive after us. However, they are delighted with their chicken tikka skewers with homemade curry sauce and rice when it eventually arrives.

There is no standing on ceremony when our main courses land. I dive right into my homemade spinach feta and sweet potato lasagne and house chips.

My excuse is that I’m peckish and garlic bread and salad wouldn’t be enough. Salty cheese is crumbled on top of diced pesto-infused vegetables, laced with spinach layers, but despite my best efforts, I can’t clear my plate.

Steak and black pudding burger

The fella is a burger connoisseur so he is keen to sample the Stornoway black pudding and steak burger.

It’s made in house and accompanied by a beef tomato slice, lettuce and pickle stuffed in a bun and in case it gets ideas of walking off it is skewered inside a brioche roll.

Coleslaw, leaves and a tiny tin bucket of chips complete the platter.

Feeling very rotund we can’t face the call of desserts, which include sticky toffee pudding, fresh fruit and meringue or even two scoops of our beloved Doddington ice-cream, either lemon meringue or Oreo.

If you ever find yourself hungry in the borderlands this place might just be worth seeking out, whatever flag you are waving. Although Eric and his mum would be appalled to learn that the Cross Inn is open on a Sunday.

 

The Cross Inn Paxton

Berwickshire TD15 1TE

(01289 384877)

 

The Cross Inn Pub and Kitchen, Paxton, restaurant review
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About The Author

Catriona Thomson

Catriona picture edits The Scotsman magazine and Scotland On Sunday, aswell as reviewing restaurants for Scotland on Sunday and writing for Scotsman Food and Drink.

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