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.
Ambiance
8/10
Food
8/10
Total
0%
February 4, 2024

Gordon Arms restaurant with rooms, review - budget-friendly winter tasting menu in historic coaching inn

This historic inn with rooms has had a revamp under new owners. Rosalind Erskine went along for their seasonal tasting menu dinner.

There’s a certain charm, especially in the winter months in Scotland, of a restaurant with rooms. Knowing you can enjoy a leisurely meal and drink without worrying about getting home (probably in terrible weather) is the ultimate in food focused relaxation.

Usually (but not always) these former coaching inns or lodges have been housing and feeding guests for centuries. Notable Scottish restaurants with rooms include the Peat Inn in Fife, Boath House in Nairn, Skye’s Three Chimneys and a newcomer, Lyla which is on the site of 21212 in Edinburgh.

It’s on a cold but calm weekend that we visit the Gordon Arms in Yarrow in the Scottish Borders for a meal and stay. This former coaching inn isn’t a new kid on the block - its past guests include Walter Scott, James Hogg and Ayrshire’s famous son Robert Burns - but owners Bryn and Oxana Jones have only been here for almost two years.

Having given up their business - The Oxford Arms, a multi-award-winning dining pub in Kirtlington village, Oxfordshire - they made the move up north having fallen in love with the property when they viewed it.

Gordon Arms review

The white washed inn, which is located on the A708 road near Moffat and Selkirk (and about half an hour from Peebles), dates back more than 200 years, and the couple have worked on making this historic abode their own, including renovating rooms, offering lunch, dinner and a tasting menu, as well as drawing up plans for a kitchen garden and suite room.

Their efforts are already paying off as, in a short space of time, they have been mentioned in the Good Food Guide and retained an AA Rosette for 2024. They also have a green tourism silver award.

We check into the comfortable deluxe double room which is spacious and has lovely views across the rolling hills, dotted with sheep, before heading down for dinner.

After deciding on drinks - a light and shandy-like non-alcoholic sour pale ale from Tempest Brewing and a glass of fruity and surprisingly light but complex glass of Chateau Mahon-Laville Bordeaux Supérieur red wine, we checked out the menus.

There was a Burns themed a la carte menu running, given the timing of our visit, alongside the very reasonably priced five course tasting menu, which we both opted for (£53 per person).

This kicked off with deeply flavoured, umami French onion soup, served with a large, crisp, melted Gruyere cheese crouton, which we’d kindly been served for lunch when we arrived.

Lyla, Edinburgh, review - a beautiful seafood focused experience that's worth dressing up for

Normally you can’t swap out courses in a tasting menu but because we’d already had the soup, we were able to choose different starters, which were a plate of Scottish smoked salmon with granary bread, home-pickled cucumbers and lemon and Belgian endive and walnut salad with Roquefort.

The crisp slightly bitter leaves in the salad were coated in a silky, fragrant blue cheese sauce and topped with crunchy walnuts while the pale pink slivers of smoked salmon, served with generously buttered slices of brown bread - a classic combo - were enlivened by the sharp yet sweet pickled cucumbers.

The next course was seared Shetland scallops - two plump slightly caramelised discs, which were served on a warming bed of yellow lentil curry, which was punctuated with little florets of cauliflower. The main course was a seasonal dish of Yarrow Valley venison wellington served with two very crispy but fluffy roasted potatoes, sounded by a full bodied red wine jus.

The ombre pink venison was succulent with just enough mushroom duxelles to add depth of flavour, all encased in thin puff pastry. A side of perfectly cooked savoy cabbage with butter was simple but tasty. Next up was a fresh and zesty palate cleanser of Seville orange and Cointreau granite quirkily served in a frozen clementine shell before we moved on to the ‘Drunken Cherry’ torte, made by Oxana.

What looked like a heavy chocolate cake was in fact as light as a feather sponge studded with cherries and topped with a chocolate sauce. It came with a sweet, sticky Morello Cherries liqueur from Somerset.

The Taybank, Dunkeld, review - this hotel restaurant's menu is good in parts

After dinner we headed to the bar for tea and coffee, served with homemade chocolate truffles, which were all enjoyed by the fire. It had been an evening of good food, excellent service with all that’s left to do is to retire to bed.

Bryn and Oxana clearly are putting their heart and soul into this venture, and it shows from the warm welcome to the delicious food and personal touches.

It may be quiet season in Scottish tourism (although a couple who dined at the same time as us, are on their third visit in as many weeks), but I’m confident that the Gordon Arms restaurant with rooms will be a go-to for many as the year marches on.

Gordon Arms Hotel, Selkirk, UK
Gordon Arms Hotel, Selkirk, UK, TD7 5LE
01750 82261
Known for cake making, experimental jam recipes, Champagne, whisky and gin drinking (and the inability to cook Gnocchi), Rosalind is the Food and Drink Editor and whisky writer for The Scotsman, as well as hosting Scran, The Scotsman's food and drink podcast.
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.
Ambiance
8/10
Drinks
8/10
Food
8/10
Service
9/10
Value
9/10
Total
0%
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