Having grown up near the sea (well, Firth of Forth), it’s something I often find I miss when I am confronted with a beach or sea view.
Having lived in cities for almost as long as the town I grew up in, it’s nice to escape to the country every now and then.
Therefore it’s the sea view from the tranquil dining room at Greywalls by Chef Roux that catches my attention first, rather than the fact it’s particularly on the course at Muirfield. My dad - a keen golfer - I suspect, would have noticed the golf course first.
Greywalls was designed in 1901 by Sir Edwin Lutyens, and has a wrap-around formal walled garden, something that guests are encouraged to explore.
It was built as a holiday home for its original owner, the Hon. Alfred Lyttelton. Lyttleton, another keen golfer, who insisted that the house be built ‘within a mashie niblick shot of the eighteenth green at Muirfield’.
The hotel has warm honey coloured stone from the local Rattlebags Quarry, and is built in a crescent shape, meaning it looks like something out of a E. M. Forster novel. In 1924 Lt. Col. Sir James Horlick, bought the house and the Weaver family used it as their summer holiday house until the beginning of World War Two. Greywalls is now a small luxury hotel, with a Roux restaurant.
We decided to visit for their newly launched weekend roast winter lunch - something that sounded appropriate on a freezing Saturday in January.
After a brisk walk with the dog on busy Gullane beach, we made the short journey to the picturesque house. Greywalls is dog-friendly if you’re staying over (dogs are allowed in the rooms), but not in the public spaces. On arrival, we were warmly greeted by staff and the roaring fires in the entrance to the dining room.
Drinks can be enjoyed here ahead of a meal, or in the dining room. We looked over the menu while sipping on a well-made and balanced negroni and a glass of Albert Roux’s "Sélection Albert Roux" Grand Cru champagne - dry and biscuity, this was the perfect antidote to seaside chills.
The four-course roast lunch menu features a locally sourced and specially prepared roast with all the trimmings. On a Friday it’s rare breed pork porcetta, Saturday is roast chicken with thyme and lemon and Sunday is roast sirloin of Scotch beef.
To accompany lunch, Greywalls offers a selection of wines, fine malt whiskies and cognacs to complete your meal. There’s also soft drinks for those driving or partaking in dry January.
To start, we chose the cream of cauliflower soup with soft poached egg and trompettes (£10) and soft goat’s curd, onion squash, pumpkin seed brittle and fresh figs (£12).
The soft squash, cut into horn like crescents, was placed in among pipped spots of soft goat’s cheese.
The sweetness of the squash and the saltiness of the cheese were ideal companions, with texture coming from the brittle and an earthiness and velvet texture from the figs.
The soup managed to be light with some creaminess from the cauliflower and softly poached egg floating in the centre.
For mains, the roast chicken with all the trimmings (£18.95) was swiftly ordered along with the veggie option of fresh tagliatelle with woodland mushrooms and black truffle (18.50).
The pasta was served in a large, tureen style bowl and the portion size was slightly overwhelming but any thoughts of not being able to finish it (and wondering what the doggy bag policy may be for such a classy establishment) were forgotten on first taste.
The perfectly al dente pasta was undoubtedly fresh, sitting among a pool of creamy, mushroom sauce, with a range of sliced fungi interspersed, and topped with a delicate shaving of fresh truffle.
Truffles and mushrooms go hand in hand, each giving an earthy depth to a dish, and this pasta was no exception but the creaminess wasn’t too much, with none of the main flavours overpowering the others. A delight, and finished off no problem.
Across the table the roast, which was well presented, consisted of succulent pieces of chicken, topped with gravy, one large Yorkshire pudding, creamy fondant potato, carrots and a pile of tender stem broccoli.
The gravy added a sweetness to the meat, while the buttery veg was decadent, and the Yorkshire light as a feather, but substantial enough to soak up gravy and meat. Another hit, and just what you need on a cold day.
The pasta portion size, and my eagerness to finish as it was so good, meant we shared a dessert of dark chocolate cremeux (£10).
Another insta-friendly plate of food, the cremeux was dotted on the plate and topped with a caramel tulle. Hidden underneath were sticky perfectly poached dates, which turned this dish from chocolate overload to something a bit more interesting. Served on the side was a sweet and creamy Balvenie whisky ice cream.
After a pot of tea and cappuccino it was time to think about another walk, this time in the walled garden.
Greywalls is undoubtedly an indulgence, but with classic dishes like these, cooked to the standard you’d expect from a Roux restaurant, it’s one that’s worth treating yourself to.
Greywalls, Muirfield, Gullane EH31 2EG