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The Mainstreet Trading Company, St Boswells, Restaurant Review

Cat Thomson heads to St Boswells for lunch and a mooch about a bookshop at Mainstreet Trading Company.

Published: June 14, 2021
Categories:
Food: 
7/10
Ambience: 
7/10

There is something enchanting about an independent book shops, magical even. All those pristine unread books jumping up and down screaming, 'Pick me.' 'No, Pick me.'

There are so many different ones to desire and covet, all of them vying for attention to be bought home and cherished.

There are literary temptations stacked high at every turn, a myriad of paperbacks, cookery tomes or of the moment hardbacks, not to mention the tastefully curated objects, mugs or tote bags and gift wrapping.

As two good friends have enthused multiple times about a certain place, I knew that I needed to sojourn to Saint Boswells at the earliest opportunity to visit The Mainstreet Trading Store.

The Mainstreet Trading Company St Boswells. Picture: Catriona Thomson
The Mainstreet Trading Company St Boswells. Picture: Catriona Thomson

So I’ve struck two birds with one stone, a pressing restaurant review deadline ticked off by a visit to their cafe followed by a mooch around the book shop. Result.

Feeling Bookish?

The award winning bookshop/cafe/deli and home store is owned by Rosamund de la Hey, the former marketing director of children's literature at Bloomsbury and her husband Bill.

She was one of the first people to read the manuscript for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, so you already know that this place will be pretty special.

So I wisely pre-booked 2 pm Sunday lunch slot by phone for myself and eldest daughter, also a fellow bibliophile. We arrive at the appointed hour, feeling slightly smug at our organisational skills and forward planning.

I have instantly fallen in love with this picture postcard place, St Boswells, is tidy and well presented just like the inhabitants.

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"The lady doth protest too much, methinks" 

Saint Boswells in The Scottish Borders. Picture: Catriona Thomson

I particularly struck by an understated political protest. One resident has hung tasteful European bunting in their driveway which fluttered in the breeze and in the face of the blue door of the Conservative Party HQ which is situated directly opposite. 

Take a seat

We headed inside the multi-award winning store, around the back in an elegant courtyard, the epitome of style and good taste, you will find a deli and home shop which are also part of the complex.

When we arrive the place looks busy and owner Bill asks flustered, "Are you here for lunch or just cake coffee, as we've been cleaned out of a lot of things, I'll let you know what we have got left.' 

I instantly think, so much for our carefully lunch planning.

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The Mainstreet Trading Company St Boswells.
The Mainstreet Trading Company St Boswells. Picture: Catriona Thomson

No matter, we take our seat and then we wait a goodly while before being asked for our order. Luckily, during our wait we can feast our eyes on the beauty of the surroundings, and drink up the intellectual bohemian atmosphere.

Waiting Game

Sadly we are too far away, to properly have a gander at the who's who of writers on the photo wall of authors. 

All have stopped by here to sign books and give talks and wax lyrical about their latest novels.

There is also an arrangement of colour coordinated books, of yellow ochre on display if alphabetical order is just too taxing for you.

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The Mainstreet Trading Company St Boswells.
The Mainstreet Trading Company St Boswells. Picture: Catriona Thomson

A waitress eventually arrives and asks what our order is. 'Nope it is more, What have you got left?", I think testily to myself.

On the menu

It transpires a choice of two soups are available, roast tomato and red pepper, or spinach and fennel, as no-one willingly wants spinach soup unless you are on a detox diet we both plump for two bowls of the first option.

Two ample steaming bowls of homemade soup arrive, with a stylish swirl with lemon infused oil and dill fronds on top.

It almost looks to good to eat but we are by now famished so we dig in. I don't give the people with the next reservation at 3pm much hope of having anything at all left by the time they arrive.

As the other food options are severely limited and we have sadly missed out on tik tok worthy, roast cherry tomato feta dip, apparently it is a thing.

The Mainstreet Trading Company St Boswells. Picture: Catriona Thomson
The Mainstreet Trading Company St Boswells. Picture: Catriona Thomson

I'm absolutely fine with the lone vegetarian option of an open sandwich version of wilted broccoli, sundried tomato pesto and honeyed almonds and fresh rocket and leaves salad.

Whilst my lunch companion is stuck with the hastily invented combination of chorizo and Bramley apple chutney sandwich.

I'm usually one hundred percent behind unusual flavour pairings but this even for the bold young one was a step too far.

The Mainstreet Trading Company St Boswells. Picture: Catriona Thomson
The Mainstreet Trading Company St Boswells. Picture: Catriona Thomson

Luckily, my daughters eyes had also spotted a pomegranate and houmous side dish on the chalkboard menu which hadn't been scored out.

Thankfully we were able to nab the last one, with a triumphant air punch in celebration.

Three choices of seeded, charcoal and chunky oatcakes to scoop up delicious houmous sprinkled with tart pomegranate seeds, rectified our mood entirely.

Just desserts

The fullsome cabinet of cakes, vanished before our eyes as we slurped our way as quickly as we could through molten spoonfuls of soup and our main courses.

We were so concerned that the cupboard of desserts would be bare by the time our turn came, fortunately we were left with a choice between rainbow cake and pecan and date slice.

The Mainstreet Trading Company St Boswells. Picture: Catriona Thomson
The Mainstreet Trading Company St Boswells. Picture: Catriona Thomson

Multicoloured be-sprinkled sponge covered in sweetest of butter icing and generously filled with strawberry jam, would do very nicely.

Whilst my date and pecan slice was moreish, we washed everything down with old fashioned cola and an americano.

Now it was time to get down to the real reason to visit, away from the the madding crowds in the cafe.

The Mainstreet Trading Company St Boswells.
The Mainstreet Trading Company St Boswells. Picture: Catriona Thomson

Mainstreet Trading Company
Main St,
St Boswells
TD6 0AT

Tel: 01835 824087

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Catriona is based in the Scottish Borders and works as part of the audiovisual team at the Scotsman but she reviews restaurants for Scotland on Sunday and writes for Scotsman Food and Drink in her spare time.

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